Adding crew for a passage or longer raises issues for a voyaging couple or family. We look at this facet of voyaging in this excerpt from our interview with Barbara and Jim Cole, who live and voyage aboard their Hallberg Rassy 36 Complexity. The full interview appears in the 2021 edition of ON’s annual handbook on voyaging, Ocean Voyager.
ON: What skills do you most look for in a crewmember?
B&JC: We usually cruise without crew, though family members and other guests have joined us for short periods of time. We did add crew for the passage from SE Asia to the Med in 2020. We did not think extensive sailing experience was essential, though it would have been a plus. We were primarily interested in crew who would be smart enough to learn our boat systems and how to sail her with general guidance from us. We wanted crew that were dependable when standing watches and that would wake us up if at all uncertain about a situation. We wanted crew we thought could cope with living in small spaces and sometimes uncomfortable conditions. It was important for crew to be good-natured and considerate. We appreciate crew who pitch in with any task aboard.
In this case, we communicated with the crew for a year ahead of the passage. We read through their cycling blog. They bicycled from Germany to Singapore through many countries, over all sorts of terrain and in the full range of weather while mostly living in a backpacking tent and cooking in the open. Their ability to cope successfully with the many challenges of their three-year journey assured us that they could cope with voyaging internationally on a small sailboat. We described life aboard the boat, especially on passage, and detailed what would be expected of them. We also sent them photos of the boat and details about their sleeping and storage spaces. We asked them to be sure they were up to date on all the immunizations they might need for our itinerary. Their ability and willingness to cook were a plus. We needed to be reasonably confident crew would be law-abiding and honest, as we would be responsible for any problems they got into with authorities along the way. We travelled to Thailand to meet our crew and spend a few days together before the final commitment for them to join us as crew for a major passage.