If you want to hitchhike or crew on a boat, this is a list and break down of the best boat and crew finding websites on the internet to find yourself a lift. If you are new to this then maybe you should first read this post about hitchhiking/crewing on boats to get you started.
There are many different sites on the internet you can use for finding yourself a lift. Some are free while others require a subscription fee. Depending on where you are in the world or more importantly where you want to sail, different websites are going to be more helpful then others.
Here are some quick links to the two best sites:
- Find A Crew – $$$ but Free to sign up and ‘Wave’ to potential matches, large amount of users
- Crewbay 100% Free – Good world coverage of opportunities
Some websites are set up for more professional sailing (paid crew) while others are directed more for the cruising community (generally unpaid, often contribution required). Some are a mix of both. If you are new to this and trying to hitchhike best to steer clear of the more professional sites, at least until you get some experience.
Below is a list of all the websites I have searched through in the past when looking for a ride. Scanning all of these sites will give you the best chance when first starting out. Getting your foot in the door in the beginning is always the hardest.
I have also included some Facebook groups at the bottom that sometimes can connect you with a ride or at the very least the boating community to help you with any questions.
FREE BOAT AND CREW FINDING WEBSITES
Here are the best free websites on the internet for finding a boat to hitchhike on or crew on. Keep in mind that the free websites generally attract different kinds of boats then the paid websites. Think about it, if a skipper doesn’t want to pay to find crew then they probably are not going to pay you either. From my experience you tend to find more solo sailors looking for girls on these websites or the slightly dodgey budget gypsy boats that ask for way too much money. Still some great options though, they just usually go quick so be proactive and visit regularly so you give yourself the best chance.
In my opinion this is probably the best free website to find a boat. It is 100% free with no lame gimmicks like some of the other sites have to try and con you out of some money (paid for initiatives like pokes, waves and nudges). You can contact the skippers or other crew directly without any catch. First you have to obviously create an account and profile, but other then that you are good to go right from the start.
Pretty simple designed website but efficient. You can define your search for any type of boat, from sail boat to cargo ship to fishing boat. Also search for certain positions (paid, unpaid, professional etc) and specific locations where you want to sail. I’ve found some interesting positions on this site, there is however, also a lot of the ‘solo sailors looking for love’ types though.
By default it lists search results by last logged in, so if you are in search of a boat make sure you come back often to the website so you are listed at the top of the pile. I have had several skippers contact me first through this website because of that reason.
Cruisers Forum ***
Like the name suggestions, this is more a forum then website dedicated for crew and skippers to connect. Still there is quite often a lot random positions shared on here. Also has plenty of information in the forums about sailing stuff, good if you want to learn a bit of what is happening in the sailing community or even just about sailing in general.
It has a really good up to date thread on buying cheap(ish) boats in good condition (less the US$30K), I’ve included this on here as a bit of pipe dream that I might one day have enough money to buy my own and sail it home to Australia.
7 Knots **
Pretty out of date website but still worth a glance every now and then. I’ve never found any actual rides off this site but a few skippers still do use it. As it is one of the less popular sites you may find less competition and hence increase your chances of getting your first position as crew if you are just starting out. It is completely free and pretty straight forward to use. Boats from all around the world.
Big mix between paid gigs and random cruisers looking for help. Not a lot of posts and never heard of anyone getting a gig from this site. But as always, worth the occasional look. Don’t hold your breath on this site finding you something though.
Completely free to sign up, simple procedure and no hidden costs down the line.
This website is in the process of moving over from sailingnetworks.com to sailingnetworks.net. The .com will close and everything will be found on .net by the end of 2017 supposedly. This is a lot of options on this website (.com version) but mostly are small day sails and weekend trips around the UK and a bit of europe. The occasional boat pops up from further a field. If you are trying to get some experience up and live around these areas it could be a good site for you. Less likely to find any big passages on here though. At this stage it is completely free.
As of writing this post [10/08/17] this website was receiving a new overhaul and had a lot of bugs to it. They have a nice slick looking interface, with world map showing boats around you but at the moment it really struggles and as a result there is bugger all profiles and boat options. At this point in time it doesn’t even really deserve to be on here but hopefully in time they will fix everything and prove it’s worth. Out of all the free websites it has some of the best potential with design, a bit similar to Findacrew but free.
SUBSCRIPTION BASED BOAT AND CREW FINDING SITES
All of these sites require money at some point. Some of them allow you to sign up for free and let you interact with skippers without paying via some sort of poke, wave or nudge system. To contact them directly you usually have to pay money first. Others require money just to see search results. As I have only ever signed up to one of them and paid money I can’t really comment to much on their effectiveness. However as they require money from both crew and skippers they generally weed out the dodgey boats, you will find more serious gigs on their websites. People who are less likely to screw you around. Keep that in mind when you make your profile.
Find A Crew *****
$$$ – Free to ‘wave’
This is probably the most well known site to connect crew and skippers. You can sign up for free but a free account limits you a bit in what it offers. You can’t directly email skippers you would like to talk to, instead you can only ‘wave’ to them. This sends a notification to them that you are interested in starting a conversation with them and if they respond with a yes then you can start talking. There is plenty of crew and skippers on this website who only use the site this way, so make sure you have put some effort into your profile to stand out from the crowd.
It has a large amount of users, probably one of the largest out of all the websites. You can search by boat location, boat destination and home port (and similarly when looking for crew). It also has many handy filters which can weed out the old guys looking for ‘romance’.
Subscription fees are seriously not cheap, in fact they are bullshit expensive. Sometimes they have random specials, I was able to get onto one of these when I first started out, I think it was something like 60 days for 60 dollars back in 2014. As I had no experience at sailing that allowed me to contact the skippers directly straight up and plead my case a bit more to impress them rather then just being another inexperienced ‘wave’ they must get all the time. It was worth the investment because it got me my first ride, so keep an eye out, they usually send emails with the specials. Worth considering if you are just starting out and a good one comes up.
Ocean Crew Link ***
This probably the best website for finding a boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean, they get a lot of boats looking for crew on here who are apart of the original Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). It departs Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for Rodney Bay Saint Lucia every November. If you want to sail across the Atlantic Ocean, read this article.
They have a lot of other opportunities listed on this site, usually offering positions sailing around the UK and in the Mediterranean.
You can sign up for free. But there is $10 activation fee that the sneakily ask for you at the end. Without it you can never contact the skippers, you can search without activation though.
Crew Seekers ***
Crew seekers is one of the original sailing websites designed for matching crew and boats. It boasts to connect all types of sailing opportunities from professionals, deliveries, cruising to day sails around the world. It has a nice upto date website with reasonable layout. A lot cheaper then its main competitor Findacrew.com. I have never personally found any potential boats on this website though, I don’t think it has anywhere near the opportunities that findacrew or crewbay offer.
$ – Free ‘Introduce yourself’ messages
Outdated website but has a few opportunities and active users. I have never found a boat on here but worth keeping an eye on. If you find something you will have to pay to contact the skipper however it is the cheapest out of all the paid websites. I think skippers can contact you if you are lucky enough and have only signed up for free. Can’t confirm that though.