Hitchhiking a sailboat

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Hitching on sailboats is somewhat easier than it sounds for two reasons:

  1. Most sailboats are owned by persons of affluent background and they want to sail with their friends. Often their friends think it is a good idea and agree to come along and then find out that sailing is not their cup of tea (too dirty, bumpy, boring, cramped - any number of reasons). Thus crews are constantly unexpectedly reforming. This is your opportunity for a ride.
  2. In all the ports in Central America and the South Pacific including Australia at 8am local time all boats in the harbor talk with each other over radio on channel 19. Thus you can listen and participate of you can either get on a boat with a radio or from a radio on land. They talk about all kinds of things they need, like where to get the bottoms of boats scraped and where is a good place to buy diesel fuel that is not watered down. And at the end of this broadcast you can generally say "My name is Wombat and I am looking for a ride to the Marquesas and I can cook." (Last checked 1989-1990 )

Skills you may need

The four capabilities that boat captains are most often looking for are

  1. cooks;
  2. people with the capacity to repair diesel engines;
  3. navigators;
  4. people with medical skills, especially emergency medical skills.

Learning navigation is relatively accessible, by going to a course or getting a book. add links. The navigator also turns out to be one of the easiest jobs, because almost all sailboats going long distance have satellite navigation systems which make directing the boat relatively easy. Navigators, like medical folks, are to be able to deal with emergencies, specifically lightning hitting the boat.

Books Ocean Nomad - Catch A Sailboat Ride & Contribute to a Healthier Ocean


Paxus hitched from LA to Sydney over 10 months in 1989/90. He sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles to Sydney with 10 different boats, mostly on the west coast of the Americas. Ten different captains and ten slightly different agreements for passage. Mostly, it was berth space, food and passage in exchange for some work around the boat and especially steering and adjusting sails. In one case a skipper asked me to pay 1/4 of the diesel fuel bill for the passage, so I would sail as much as possible. We sailed a lot, even with very little wind and when we arrived in Panama he declined my offer to pay my agreed share, saying he just wanted to cut fuel expenses which we did.

Suzanne Oceanpreneur] has been hitchhiking on sailboats for the last years on +25 different boats. She hitchhiked across the Atlantic 4 times (twice from Europe to the Caribbean and twice from the Caribbean to Europe). She has explored almost every ocean on the planet with this alternative way of travel. She has figured out how (and how not) to catch rides on other people’s boats. Her ocean adventures have amazed her to the beauty of nature, but also the challenges the oceans are facing. She wrote The Hitchhikers Guide to the Atlantic. And with the Ocean Nomads Community] Suzanne aims to connect more (aspiring) sailors and ocean change-makers with each other with the bigger goal to protect our playground and save the ocean.