Crewing a boat in Italy
If you love sailing, or just have an unquenchable taste for adventure and new experiences, you can sign on to help crew a boat just about anywhere in the world
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In the interests of full disclosure: those swabbies in the photograph aren't actually bumming a free ride; they're guys from my scout troop, and we're sailing the Florida Keys, not the Med.
Yes, you can sign up for a small sailboat cruise of the Amalfi Coast or Siclian islands and pay for the privlege (though it's cheaper than you might think).
But there's another way, a free way, to sail the coasts of Italy. You just have to be willing to be a deckhand, swabbie, an/or cook.
Of course, Shanghaiing yourself onto a sailboat means work, so it's not totally "free" in that sense, but what an opportunity. Resources like the Float Plan (a.k.a. The Cruisers' Companion; see below) helps you find skippers seeking crews and mates to serve on board or just join in a trip for companionship.
(The site is also used by folks looking for others to sail with them as equals, not employees, and therefore share the expense.)
Usually we're talking small sailing vessels, sometimes motorboats or even yachts. You may sign on as a cook, mate, swabbie, or all-around helper doing all the odd jobs. Sailing or boating experience is sometimes required, often not.
But don't worry; if it only took us a day to teach a group of 14 year old Boy Scouts how to sail in a bay off Miami (see the photo above), you can learn it, too. Sometimes you even get a small stipend; usually you just get free room (er, berth) and board. Occasionally, there is a small fee to cover your meals—but, hey: it's a chance to sail the Mediterranean on the cheap.
'Course, since you're not the captain, you go where the boat owner wants to go. But if the actual itinerary isn't all that important to you and you just to travel and see the world, this can be quite an adventure.
Recent postings on the site included 90-foot luxury motor yacht looking for deckhands and caterers to help crew its leisurely trip out from Genova around the islands of Italy (room and board provided), a 35-foot sailing sloop that's currently hanging around the Maddalena Islands off the north coast of Sardegna and is happy to train newbie sailors (expect to contribute €30 toward common kitty for expenses), and another boat looking for crew to help spend two months sailing all around the Med from Turkey to France (you'd pay $30 per day food).
Resources for Crewing as Boat
The Float Plan (www.floatplan.com) - The Cruisers' Companion will hook up crew-needy skippers with swabbies to help them sail the seven seas (or at least the Mediterranean).
- Sailing tours of Italy
- Hospitality networks
- Other ways to sleep for free
- Eat for free in Italy
- Free sights in: Rome, Florence, Venice
- Italian cruises
- Italian ferries
- Money-saving tips
This material was last updated February 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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