Go boat yourself, Cruises and Travel By Boat
By: LESLIE BAEHR (justin) 2012.09.23
Just because you drink Captain Morgan's and curse like a sailor, that doesn't make you one." My dad, a veteran sailor who cruises, may be right. But as I sat up at 3 a.m. swapping stories with a South African sailor named Gerhard, I certainly felt like a sailor, even though this was my first nighttime voyage.
We were put on night watch with one mission -to make sure the 50-foot sailboat headed smoothly on its course from Aruba to Curacao throughout the night.
We were surrounded by nothing but the glassy, jet black water, which seemed to slowly fade into the smooth black sky, star-studded though it was. Never before had the world seemed so vast. As I looked at the stars, I remembered thinking that if we didn't stop, if we just kept going, we could chase nighttime around the world forever.
Well, that was to be my first sailing lesson. Unfortunately, calm seas, like calm thoughts, don't last forever.
Sometime around 3 a.m. we hit our first squall - a short, intense windstorm. The waves, once rolling hills, morphed into jagged peaks and plunging valleys. I began to feel woozy. There I stood in my oversized yellow hooded jumpsuit, and felt as though monsters had jumped into my belly and were making a devil of a stew out of my guts.
"Flood" Screamed Gerhard, shoving a water bottle in my face and securing me to the railing with rope. I looked at him, confused, nauseated and a little frightened. Was the boat going down? No, Gerhard was simply preparing me for my next sailing lesson. He said, "Drink this water bottle and then throw it up so you feel better." And so I sat in my oversized jumpsuit on the bumpy seas in the pouring rain, throwing up off the back of the boat.
Sound like fun? Though it may not always be smooth-sailing, you can count on the sea for a good adventure. Boats are a great place for people who are not only interested in the destination, but the journey. Boating isn't just a means of travel, it's a lifestyle.
So, grab your rope, water bottle and foul-weather gear. If you are lucky enough to wind up on a boat, you'll need these essentials. We'd all love to be pirates, but it's difficult to know where to begin, especially for landlubberly college students. The truth is, all you need is a sense of adventure and a willingness to learn.
There are many ways to go about getting yourself a pair of sea legs. Some of your options are to work on cruise ships and yachts, or to take a barge cruise or even charter a boat of your own. For aspiring sailors who are strapped for cash, cruise ship jobs are your best bet. They are offered worldwide and will give you a chance to see the ports of many countries.
on many cruises liners, sailing experience is not required - having a specialty is. Are you a personal trainer, good with flower arrangements, or have experience in the food service industry? From bakers to housekeepers to lifeguards, cruise ships have tons of positions to fill since they operate like floating hotels. Also, being nice to the customers (or pretending to be nice) is important. A winning smile can sometimes be your ticket to the world in the cruise industry.
Finding a job on a cruise can often be a harrowing task. Sneaky websites promising your dream career on the seas may steal your last dollar. The Real Truth About Cruise Ship Jobs (www.shipjobs.com) is a good starting point for finding a decent job. Also check out "Delaying the Real World," by Colleen Kinder, which has a chapter on working abroad entitled "Oh, So Many Places To Go," with a small section on cruise ship jobs.
NOT A YACHT TO DO
If you're more of the hands-on type, and would really love to learn how to sail, a job on a yacht may be more your thing. So here is the good news: contrary to popular belief, no experience is necessary to obtain a crew job on a boat. The bad news: with no experience comes no pay and you might even have to pay for your own airfare. Though it is a lot of work, (some of it hard labor) if you really want to become a sailor, this is the way to do it. You will learn how to sail, navigate, repair and care for the boat, coming out with more experience than regular sailing lessons can offer. once you rack up some sea miles, paying jobs will also become an option and the contacts you will have made will be great resources for jobs.
When checking out job postings, know that "yacht" is a fairly vague term denoting anything from a hundred-foot motor-driven vessel to a 30-foot sail boat. You can find job listings and post your resume at CrewFile (www.crewfile.com), Crew Searcher (crewsearcher.com) and Crewseekers (www.crewseekers.co.uk). If you want to learn more about how to become crew, try checking out "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Oceans" by Alison Muir Bennett.
CHARTER YOUR OWN BOAT
For shorter voyages and no boss, charter boating is the way to go. For as little as $150 you can charter a boat for a day. Most companies don't require any sort of certification to charter, but do require sailing experience for bareboat charters, where you sail yourself. For longer periods, companies like The Moorings (www.moorings.com) and Sunsail Worldwide Sailing Holidays (www.sunsail.com) offer multiday charters in various countries all over the world, though they can get a little pricey. No matter the length of your trip, a skipper can always be hired to sail or give lessons on board.
Price ranges for chartering depend on boat size, the number of people, what sort of provisions you want, whether or not you have a skipper, destination, and date. For example, a three day sail on a 30-foot boat with four people, fuel, ice, water and no skipper would be about $1,600. That's $400 per person plus food and airfare for the best vacation of your life. You will have direct access to some of the most picturesque beaches the world has to offer and that can only be accessed by boat, like in the Corona ads. Shoeless beachside restaurants and the chance to meet other sailing folk are a plus.
HUCK FINN STYLE
If work isn't really your thing and you would rather just relax, a barge cruise down a river may be a good way to go. With the ability to go places cruise ships can't, these flat-bottomed boats are able to navigate the shallow waters through rivers and canals. Barges hold anywhere from six to a hundred people and have roomier living quarters than cruise ships. Although they can sometimes be a more expensive option than a regular cruise, with some research you can find the right deals. The good part is they are normally all-inclusive, but that is no reason to let yourself waste away at the bar. As they cruise down the river, you will get many opportunities to hop ashore.
Depending on the cruise you choose, you can make your way through cities, towns, forests and flatlands. The best part is that they travel waterways worldwide. You can cruise the Amazon, the Nile, or keep it domestic with the Mississippi. one of the more popular destinations is France for its abundance of inland waterways.
Prices normally range from $1,000 to $2,000 for a week-long trip, but companies like The Barge Company (www.bargecompany.com) offer regular two-for-one deals and half-off discounts. Uniworld River Cruises (uniworld.com) offers discounts as well on less inclusive trips. Be sure to check out off-season prices and consult a river cruise specialist. Yes, they exist.
The sea is a great way to see the world. Whether you cruise, yacht, charter or escape on a barge, many good opportunities exist for those willing to get their sea legs. It is a great way to learn a lot and even make some money, but the experience itself is the real prize. With the ocean occupying 71 percent of our world, even the most experienced travelers will have seen very little if they haven't traveled by sea. Still not convinced? Trust me, the view of the night sky from the sea is worth it, even when you're throwing up.