Travel on will take longer

All hands on deck … crew members put away the sails.All hands on deck … crew members put away the sails. Photograph: Alamy

How does it work?

You can't sail a ship without a crew, and these days finding a crew takes a little more time than simply walking into a coastal pub, slamming your pint of mead on a barrel and requesting all able seamen to step forward. Nowadays, adverts for crew are posted online, giving an opportunity for landlubbers to sail the seven seas on the cheap, provided they are willing to scrub the decks every so often.

Do you need experience?

It depends on what the skipper is looking for. Some trips, especially longer trans-ocean ones, will require the crew to have previous sailing experience. However, there are many opportunities for complete beginners to get on board, muck in with the chores and pick up sailing skills along the way.

What will I do?

If you have no previous experience, you are likely to be helping with the basic tasks, such as keeping watch on deck, trimming the sails, cooking and cleaning. More experienced crew may be left to watch the deck on their own, or help with navigation and the overall sailing of the boat.

How much does it cost?

Again, this can vary depending on the voyage. Sometimes travel expenses are covered by the boat owner, sometimes the crew will be expected to pay their own, but this should not be more than between £15-25 a day. If you are paying more than what is necessary to maintain basic food and supplies on the boat, then you are no longer a crew member and should be classed as a passenger, which would mean different laws and regulations apply to your trip.

Some crew members receive recompense for their work on board; this could be in the form of a free trip, a return ticket home, or a bonus on completion of the voyage. More experienced crew could be paid for their work, which can be between £200-500 per week. (Superyacht crewing has its own requirements.) Some sites also charge a registration fee before you can contact the skippers.

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