Yacht Hitchhiking

Yacht hitching is easier than you think, it’s merely a matter of getting the seasons right (cyclone season is not the right time, I discovered that the hard way) and networking with people who sail. This is code language for hanging out at yacht clubs getting drunk and making friends. I spent a month in Tonga doing just that until I landed a ride to New Zealand.

Yacht Hitching
The yacht I hitched on from Tonga to New Zealand

Make yourself known with the people who own businesses and interact with sailors on a daily basis. If they like you they will keep an ear to the ground and have you a ride in no time. Printing out posters with your photo and contact information is a good idea, stick these up in areas that the yachties frequent, the marina laundry, yacht club or marina notice board are good spots to start. Get talking, spread the word, make friends and be open to suggestions.

Freight ships rarely if ever take on passengers anymore due to insurance reasons. Every time I’ve tried to get on a freight ship it has been one hell of a battle, which I’m yet to win.

Don’t worry about experience, although experience at sea will definitely help you get a ride it is not the main thing. Captains want enthusiastic people willing to learn and work hard, so if you show yourself to be resourceful and capable then that helps. Although if you tend to get seasick, I suggest you don’t go to sea. Seasick crew are useless burdens to the captain and boat. I personally had never been to sea and gambled whether or not I would get sick. I came close but thank Christ I never vomited over the weeks at sea. Ginger and lots of it, it increases your circulation and helps with motion sickness, there are tablets of varying strength and all sorts of gadgets and gizmos (pressure point bands) to help you resist seasickness. But in my opinion it is mainly psychological, if you are strong there, you can do anything.

You have to be a malleable person who is able to adapt to any situation, no one will give you a ride across the ocean if they don’t like you and think you won’t fit with the rest of the crew.

Be patient, open and enjoy yourself, before you know it you’ll be bobbing on the open ocean twirling in circles amazed at the alien world you’ve merged with. Once in this world it is very easy to continue on, sailing the world by hopping from one yacht to another. The more experience you get the easier it will be to find a ride and you will find that the rides tend to stack up before you with minimal effort. There are websites such as Find a Crew which are a great way to work out when is the right season and what is the right route for you to target.

The ocean is a place all mankind should experience at least once in their lives. There is nothing more awesome, terrifying, beautiful or humbling than drifting across the seas.

Yacht Hitching Summary:

  • Get the right seasons
  • Be outgoing, befriend the people and businesses that deal with yachties
  • Have fun, no one wants a boring crew mate, besides, most of the yachties I’ve met so far have been raging alcoholics and party animals
  • Don’t get seasick
  • Be enthusiastic and eager to learn, everything!
  • Live with patience, determination and persistence and you will get your ride
  • Bring a camera for those stunning sunsets and sunrises at sea, but be prepared to be disappointed with how they turn out, never a true reflection of the blinding divinity of the sun after a horrific night at sea.