Crew (Sailing) Tips

I look forward to sailing with you!


  • CLOTHING: It’s often 10-15 degrees cooler out to sea, and sunny weather inland is occasionally cloudy at sea due to a marine layer, so I’d always bring a jacket or some layers, even if you don’t think you need it.
  • ALCOHOL: Varies by boat & skipper; when I’m captain a bit of alcohol is fine in good weather, day time only, and don’t get drunk. One beer is fine, five beers is not.
  • HEELING (Leaning Over): Note the boat will usually be leaning 10-15 degrees to one side. This is expected, normal, and it’s not really possible for the boat to topple over, there’s hundreds or thousands of pounds of lead in the “keel”, or we’ll be on a catamaran that stays pretty flat. Just be expecting it to lean over – it’s actually the best / fastest / most efficient point of sail at about 15 degrees over.


  • Pack only in soft-sided bags (tip: reusable grocery bags are great). Why? We’ll pack stuff into odd-shaped corners, and as items like food get used, the bags can get condensed. No hard-sided luggage.

My policies on PFDs: You must wear a PFD for any of the following conditions:

  1. You’re not a strong swimmer. If you’re not confident you could swim for 1/2 hour 1/2 mile fully clothed with shoes on, wear a PFD.
  2. You’re under 12. No exceptions. This is also a legal requirement for some boats due to USCG Captain’s license / insurance / etc. – we can get children’s PFDs.
  3. Wind is over 15 knots (all crew including me), or raining
  4. Night sailing
  5. You’re on the bow i.e. as bowman (which often requires hanging off the boat).

 ===== RACING CREW ======

I have no idea as to your skill level or experience, but if you’re seeing this page we’re probably going sailing together, or I’ve recommended you to a race crew. It’ll be fun!

Sailing is the world’s cheapest sport… til you buy a boat, then it becomes a very expensive sport (but rewarding / fun / worth it). Anyway, as race crew you need very little equipment, but a few things are helpful – specifically:

  1. Sailing gloves – $12 -$25 // home depot fingerless work gloves also work, or pop into West Marine and get some.
  2. PFD – Personal Flotation Device i.e. life jacket; there are 2 main types most common for race crew, and I have both:
    1. Light duty in-shore. For everyday racing in mild conditions. – $60-70 ish.  I have this one.
    2. Heavy duty: Offshore & overnights. Harness for jackline, hood for spray, light for night pickups. Mine was $170 on sale, $250 is a good price for a good one. Epirb optional but helpful if you can spare the $250. I have one like this for offshore. These can get expensive, but if you need an offshore PFD, you don’t want “cheap” you want “save your life”.
  3. Rigging knife with marlin spike – i.e. See amazon – $7 ish – put this on a tether, dog leash, etc so it’s on you at all times
  4. Sail bag with clips or carabiners – so you can prevent it from sliding around the boat when heeled over.. any bag will work but dollar-store “beaners” help clip it to something. Any bag will work, I use a shoulder bag. Waterproof helps but not required.
  5. Personal stuff: Water, a snack, beer in cans not bottles (glass..) is always a good gesture or some other alcohol. Bad: Red wine (stains decks/wood), bananas (sailing superstition). Sunscreen, hat.
  6. JACKET – Assume it will be 15 degrees colder out there and if racing, you might get spray / damp – some layers = recommended.
  7. Winter: “foulies”, jackets (waterproof sailing jackets are helpful) – goal is stay dry & warm.