How To Travel The World By Sea | Sail Around The World |
Travel the world by sea & sail around the world is an amazing experience. Rather than zipping over dimpled oceans at 30,000 feet, you could head for the high seas, especially if you’ve got a strong stomach. As the saying goes, “If a man has anything in him, travel will bring it out – especially ocean travel.” On the plus side though, no other form of transport quite conjures up that special feeling you get arriving by sea: a grand entrance in the style of the great explorers and nineteenth-century travellers. You can circle the world on one ship, skip from boat to boat, or simply make it a segment of your journey. Catching a lift on a yacht is the cheapest option. After that, it’s a toss-up between cruise ships and cargo vessels. To find out which will work out best for your
journey, read on.
Hitchhike On Yachts
Private yachts of all types often need an extra pair of hands during a sea passage. Some are crewed by professional captains delivering a boat to a new owner and some by “old salt” couples who live aboard their vessels full time. They usually follow common routes across seas where anchorages are safe, the scenery is agreeable and (since many are retired) the prices are low – and simply want a little help or a little company on board. In other words, it doesn’t necessarily mean seeing the world with a bunch of nouveau riche assholes.
It’s possible to get a working passage or catch a free lift (though some may request $5–25/£3–16 per day to cover your food and drinks) while heading almost anywhere if you know the sailing seasons, yachting centres and routes (the big three regions are the Mediterranean, The Caribbean and the South Pacific), and how to present yourself professionally. Most agreements to crew aboard a boat are made casually at the individual harbours, though you may have a written contract. Passages can be anything from a couple of days to a couple of months, depending on the destination.
You don’t need to be a sailor to crew on a yacht, but if you’re reasonably fit it certainly helps. Space is limited, so a compact kit will be appreciated. Show up pulling a Samsonite trolley and you’ve got a few strikes against you already. There’s not much special gear involved, but in your collapsible bag you’ll want some non-marking shoes, a good hat that won’t land in the drink when the wind picks up, sunblock, UV sunglasses with safety straps, motion sickness pills and some smart clothes that won’t get you thrown out of the occasional yacht club.
You may be able to catch a ride right back to your departure point, but don’t count on it. Even if you’ve prearranged a long round-trip berth, one thing or another may cause you to hop off earlier. Expect to cough up for a cheap one-way plane ticket, ferry ride or bus trip, depending on where you end up.
Where and When to Find a Yacht
The sailing season in the Caribbean begins in October, following the summer hurricanes, and lasts until May. If you want to head “down island” (south), show up in Miami or Fort Lauderdale between November and March. Antigua Sailing Week (end of April) is the big event and the Antigua Yacht Club Marina is an ideal place to pick up a berth to just about anywhere, especially South America, the USA or Europe.
The season in the Mediterranean kicks off in June when yachts need crew for their summer charters to cruise the Med. Nearly all major marinas are active, but especially Antibes, Las Palmas, Rhodes, Malta, Majorca, Alicante and Gibraltar. Then, from around November 20, there’s a 2700-mile fun run (of sorts) from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Canary Islands) to Rodney Bay in St Lucia: the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). Over two hundred boats participate in the rally and even more make the crossing unofficially. If you show up in Las Palmas at the beginning of November or before, and chip in some food money for the crossing (about $250/£157), you’ve got a good chance of catching a lift. To get a step ahead of the competition, you could start your search a few weeks earlier in Mediterranean marinas around Spain or France to catch the yachts before they pass through the Strait of Gibraltar on their way to Las Palmas. But, unlike the typically smooth passage across the Atlantic, the leg from Gibraltar to Las Palmas can get rough.
The major springboard for the stunning islands of the South Pacific is a few marinas in northern New Zealand – Opua, Whangarei and Auckland (probably in that order). Most boats leave in the autumn (end February to end April). If you’re looking for a passage in the other direction (to New Zealand) or on to the USA, your best chances are between July and October. Some prefer to start in Australia – if so, try the marinas in the Whitsunday Islands, Airlie Beach and Townsville. May to July is a promising time to head north towards Indonesia.
Read also: HOW TO GET PAID TO TRAVEL THE WORLD
How to Look For Passage
Head down to any major harbour and start by scanning the noticeboards. Then find the harbour master and ask if he knows any captains looking for crew. That way, you can slip in a personal reference (“The harbour master said I should speak to you about a crew position you’re trying to fill”). If that doesn’t yield any leads, ask if you can use his radio to announce on the local sailors’ channel that you’re looking for work. Before walking the docks in search of a captain, try a more informal place like the local sailing-supply shop or, better yet, the harbour bar. If you like to plan ahead, check the ads in yachting magazines and newsletters. There are also crewing placement agencies that specialize in this very service. Or, if you prefer to see the boat and meet the skipper first (which is probably a good idea), you may be better off on your own.
If captains don’t like how you look or conduct yourself, they may not reveal they have a position available. You need to dress smartly and demonstrate that you’re easygoing and level-headed. Moreover, you’ll need to learn some yachting manners – always ask for “permission to board” before letting your foot cross the rail, for example. If you’re a good cook, mention it. If you’ve got technical experience, let the captain know. If you’ve got some solid job references, keep a few copies on hand. Tell the captain he’s welcome to search your luggage (he may request this anyway) and that your travel documents are in order (make sure they are). The interview works both ways: you want to size up the captain and crew as well. Are these people you want to be stuck at sea with? Women travellers must especially be aware. Will you be the only woman on board? Can you speak to other women on board who have sailed
with these men before? Find out. Once you set sail, it’s too late.
Travel by Cruise Ship Vs Freighter
Here’s the surprise: it’s not much cheaper to take a freighter. There are some reasonably priced cruise ships – if your definition of reasonable is $150–300/£95–189 a day – that can take you across various stretches of the ocean (a cruise-booking specialist can help find what’s available). On a freighter, the average per day may be lower ($100–150/£63–95) as human freight, but it’ll take a bit longer (nearly double the time on some routes), and you may end up staying in a hostel for a few weeks waiting for the ship to leave for its “scheduled” departure, so the total price can easily end up about the same.
There’s more to do on a cruise ship, but, as far as hardcore budget travellers are concerned, the image can be an issue. That is, the leg of your journey you made by cruise ship isn’t going to be a big hit at the next hostel story-swap.
Another little surprise: freighters tend to put you in fairly luxurious officer staterooms (bigger than what you get on the cruise ship with a tight budget), many of which have been made available as the ships have replaced crew members with computers. Groups are usually small (about twelve – more than that and the ship is required to carry a doctor), but some freighters have become quasi-cruisers and take up to a hundred passengers.
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Besides lengthy departure delays, one of the trickiest problems to overcome on many routes is the one-way issue. Ships give priority to round-trip travellers, so one-wayers generally end up on the waiting list. Also, single travellers may face a supplement of ten to twenty percent. If you’re over 65, you’ll want to bring a doctor’s certificate of good health. And, finally, keep an eye out for pirates. The waters off the Horn of Africa (Somalia and the Gulf of Aden) have the highest risk of armed attacks; Nigeria comes in second and Indonesia third. Working aboard freighters
for passage isn’t likely to be a viable option, but they just might need some cleaning, an extra mechanic aboard or the services of a massage therapist. It never hurts to ask.
Container Ship Vs Bulk Freighter
The difference, as far as passengers are concerned, is the likelihood of delays and the number of days spent in each port. Container ships carry the giant metal-box eyesores that can be dropped onto the back of a truck, which expedites the loading and unloading process. This means you may only get six to twelve hours in port to look around, but it does help the ship keep on schedule. Bulk freighters may take two to three days in port, which gives you more time to explore but increases the chances of falling behind schedule.
Let’s wrap up How To Travel The World By Sea article. Read also: Best Tips & Trick To Timing Your Trip Right
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— Sunil Nain