Hitchhiking a boat
Hitching a see boat
Hitchhiking a boat is a bit like hitchhiking a plane. There are not so many boats...
Your best chances are to become part of the crew.
In the Caribean it's not too hard to find sail boats that need an extra hand on deck.
If you want to hitch on a boat, you will find a way if you try hard enough, but it will take you a lot of time. You can try hanging out at the harbor for a week, talking to almost anyone, possibly finding a pub where sailors tend to drink their beer.
Hitchhiking a ferry is easy. Simply ask truck drivers if you can enter the ferry in their truck, they usually only have to pay for the vehicle.
Hitching a Barge
Some inland routes are navigable. Big rivers, canals... Barges and private boat cruise them. Barges are very long and flat boats that can carry thousands of tons of goods, slowly along the river. If you're not in a hurry they are easy to hitch.
Barges won't stop if you wave at them from the bank. The best place to get to them is a "lock", where they have to stop to be adjusted to the level of the river-canal. But they usually have a restricted access.
Apparently they do not operate at night (10pm-6am). If you go to the main gate, there should be a button to call the operator (only one person is usually operating). From my experience in Germany, they are very hitch-hiker friendly. If you explain to them what you're up to over the intercom, they let you in or even ask the boats for you over the radio.
Traffic is low but the boat drivers are usually open to travellers. And during the time needed for the lock to operate, it is easy to talk to them from the bank.
The cruising speed of a riverboat is circa 13 km/h. But counting the time spend in the locks, it can go down to 6 km/h. But as they stop only at night, it is still faster than walking.
Plus, given the size of the vehicle, it is very comfortable. And depending on what river you're cruising, it can also be very beautiful.
- Cruiser Log, has some very useful info, some specific for hitchhikers, including a rough guide of movements of cruising yachts
- 7knots has a practical way of finding boats
- Boating OZ, mostly in Australia, some Pacific
These sites might prove useful:
- Cruising Sailor - Crew Positions
- World Cruising Club