Crewing

Currently I live in Duluth, Minnesota on the beach of Park Point.  After years operating a kayak retail  business in Grand Marais, not really making very much money and having little free time I decided to focus on free time and getting by on less money, which I had become accustomed to.  Since February 2012 I have rented the main level of my house and squeak by financially but with freedom of time.  

For several winters I've connected with a sailboat owner seeking an extra hand.  Volunteer crewing, they call it and there are multiple websites to help with these connections.  I found all 4 connections on the 'seeking crew' thread at www.cruisersforum.com   You never know how these arrangements will go but how else could I spend 2, 3 or 4 months sailing around the Caribbean for less than it would cost me to stay in Duluth?  My food costs tend to be less and Airfare costs are covered by what I save not heating or using other utilities in my poorly insulated upper level apartment.  Having awesome tenants is a big part of making this doable.  This isn't just about an enjoyable way to spend the winter.  It's about my plan to move to a live-aboard lifestyle and seeing what I think of it before selling my house.  It's something I've contemplated since 1983.

<> My first volunteer crewing was helping an older couple sail from Jamaica to the Virginia islands and beyond.  It offered a good lesson in having a well prepared and maintained boat as that boat was neither prepared or maintained.  We made it to about 38 nm east of Barahona D.R.  We then retreated back to Jamaica.  An interesting experience none the less.
<> The second winter was to help a single handed captain sail from Marathon, Florida to Rio Dulce, Guatemala.  The boat was well maintained although cramped as it was an old racing design rather than a cruising design.  It had a very cramped head and no sink in the galley.  The highlight was that we decided to cross to Cuba rather than the much longer passage directly to Mexico.  The downside was an over cautious captain (5 weeks on a mooring ball in Marathon) waiting for a weather window.  The biggest drawback was the captain ended up being a real hard to be around narcissist.  I made it as far as Punta Allen Mexico just shy of Belize before I jumped ship.  I found out the following year when I ended up in that previous years destination of Rio Dulce that the captain ran into the reef on the way into Xcalak, Mexico and his boat sank.  This was about 70 NM south of where I left the boat.
<> The 3rd winter I crewed with the captain/owner and another volunteer crew.  3 of us on a classic 52' ketch.  It was by far the best prepared and comfortable boat.  This turned out to be my longest crewing gig.  We started in Beaufort SC and crossed to the Bahamas from the Fort Lauderdale area.  The plan was to head to the eastern Caribbean but despite the captains better than average mechanical repair skills, tools and supplies, engine issues still forced a change of plans and a second time visiting Cuba than west to Rio Dulce via the Cayman Islands.
<> This forth time, 2015 - 2016, I'm joining a captain/owner on his 40' Choey Lee sail down the west coast to Panama from California.  How far down I get by the end of March is as yet unknown.  I'm actually still waiting for the boat (which is underway) to reach San Francisco.  I'm currently visiting my cousin Craig who was a best childhood friend and I've not seen very much at all since he moved west around 1980 or so.  It's Awesome! 

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