37 Foot Lavida Nueva is being made ready for extended cruising. She is a Tayana 37 sailboat built using the Robert Perry Design. She is perfect for a couple and can handle 4 or 5 with comfort. She is a steady boat, with plenty of weight and not much tipping power for stability in heavy weather!
I am getting ready to put La Vida Nueva, my Tayana 37, to the test again. I am actively looking for crew to sail her to Isla de Mujeres or Veracruz or even sailing to Belize! I learned crew selection was a critical piece of a sailing yacht's success and best opportunities at sea. Last time, failure to control the boat almost cost both of our lives. I will not make the question about who is in charge again. It is me! That is, until someone lays down $ 150,000 to buy my beautiful cutter!
1. Know your crew. This was the second piece of advice my friends wave me. The first was, do not go at all. It was the wrong time of year and the trip was beyond my capabilities. But if I had to go, my fiends insisted, I needed to know who I was going with.
Could I trust them? Could I depend upon them in an emergency? Were they boat wise? Did they have any special skills like mechanical skills?
2. "Take a couple of test sails before the big adventure." they told me. Learning to work together is key on a sailboat means everything. I like the idea of requiring pre-paid tickets back home to be on hand. If the crew member turns out to be a problem he gets the boot onto the crowd killer in a shuttle flight home. Best of all, since he put the bucks up to start, it was on his dime!
There are two benefits to this arrangement. First, and obvious, you can get rid of problem crew members easily and cheaply. Just stick 'em on the plane with the crew member's own paid paid ticket and it is "by, by". Just having the tickets puts a psychological effect on the crew member. He knows he has to go back if he is asked to do so and he has already forked out a ticket for the trip which he does not want to use. Maybe he had better be on his best behavior!
I wish I knew these tricks before my vent into the teeth of Hurricane Gale. But then, the idea is go learn and fail, and get back on the horse and do it right this time! I have a good start!
3. The most important rule is who will be the captain? Ships do not run well under anarchy with everyone throwing their own solution at a dangerous moment. When it comes to my boat, the question is made up before the crew member gets on. I am captain, it took me most of my life to afford the boat. It does not matter if Clarence Crestowe has 10,000 miles logged at sea, I am the guy who will make the decisions.
When I find a crew that is not willing to rally behind the concept then they have a problem. I will not hesitate to use the Prue-paid ticket at any time. In fact, if the person is enough of a problem, I will radio the Coast Guard and have him escorted off of the boat. I am sure he will come up with some excuse why a private yacht wanted to put him off 100 miles off shore.
4. Is the crew willing to chip in? I figure my boat would rent for $ 7,000 a week as a bare boat charter. I will not rent my pristine Tayana 36. However, it is important the sailing crew who come with me understand that they are getting a heck of a deal. Sail on this fully equipped sloop for the cost of the expenses to run the boat! That is a lot better than splitting $ 7K between 4 people! In exchange for the opportunity to sail a dingy charter boat.
I believe inputting my crew to work. There are always last minute details to be finished. If I have a crew member who will not pitch in now, what will happen when it is his watch and we are in heavy weather sailing? We are all cold, wet and exhausted from rough seas and towering waves? Will this guy buck up? If he will not put in his share before we leave then I leave a huge problem on the dock for his wife to handle.
"Geez, Susy, they dumped me off of the crew just because I had other things to do than help them get ready to go 200 miles off shore! I had it figured out, instead of taking a shift I would float and watch to see Everything is done just right. Now, I never crewed on a boat like that but I have a model of her! ! I am hungry! "
5. Finally, I search every crew member's bags before we leave. This comes from my last voyage in which a crew member asked if he could bring along his pistol. He was afraid of pirates in the gulf of Mexico! I was clear with him, no firearms. They have to be checked with Mexican customs so what is the point of having a gun if you can not keep it? Failure to declare a fire arm in Mexico, especially under the current near civil war with drug lords, will put the entire sailboat crew at risk. A Mexican prison is not a fun place to be!
We never made Mexico on that trip. We hit a gale and had to turn back, that was heavy weather sailing at it's best. Our sailing voyage to Belize ended in South Padre Island. When we put into port I put the sailor on a plane home. That is when he confessed. He had smuggled a gun and two large boxes of shells onto the boat! I guess we were lucky our sailing adventure through Mexican waters was foiled by a near hurricane! I called it Hurricane Gale in an article I wrote. The Mexicans do not take kindly to bringing in guns and ammunition into their country!
Sailing is an absolute blast! This Tayana 37 can tackle anything mother nature has to throw at her! A sailing adventure to Belize, or sailing to Isla de Mujeres or Cozumel or Veracruz would be a trip of a life time! My dream trip is sailing my sloop, La Vida Nueva, to the Rio Dulce! Imagine, living with nature, new cultures, friends to make. I can barely wait! Crew selection is key to sail away fun and safety at sea. A good crew in heavy weather sailing means everything. A bad attitude destroys the whole experience and puts all hands in peril! My suggestion, qualify your sailing crew with care!