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Bay Sailors
A Tampa Bay Sailing Club for Singles

HomeCrew Information

Crew Information 


We want you to have fun as a member of Bay Sailors, and to be able to enjoy as many days on the water as possible. But we also need for you to be safe, respectful of the skipper and boat and of your fellow crew, and willing to learn how to sail.

Registration for Sailing Events

You must be a member. You may register by signing up online, at the General Meeting or by contacting the Crew Coordinator.


The Crew Coordinator will recommend crew to the skippers with these criteria in mind:

  • At least one experienced hand to act as first mate to the skipper.
  • Everyone else who is in good standing as a member.
  • Anyone "bumped" from a previous month's sail due to insufficient space will receive special consideration. Members who have sailed less than others will receive special consideration. These things happen very rarely but they do sometimes happen. We will look after you, have no fear.
  • The Crew Coordinator may need to  'balance' the crew in other ways, as well.
  • People who have failed to show up for a previous sail and didn't notify anyone go last this month—if there's room. Fortunately, this also happens rarely.


Special requests: You may make special requests at the time you sign up for a sail. Perhaps you wish to carpool with another member and so go sailing on the same boat. Perhaps you and another member always prefer to sail together. You may not wish to drive to a far-distant boat and so request not to be assigned to that boat.


You may not wish, for whatever reason, to sail with a certain boat or skipper. Be forewarned that this sort of request is considered to be a permanent one. Use it wisely. The Crew Coordinator will try to honor such requests. But there are no guarantees and the needs of the skippers and club come first.


Deadlines for signing up and for showing up: All sails have registration deadlines. Sails scheduled in the newsletter usually have a deadline of the Monday night before the weekend sail. But these may vary in special circumstances. The deadline is the last day you can sign up and also the last day you can cancel. Online registrations will provide the cancel date.


One common exception are occasional "special sails" that are not listed in the newsletter and which are available only at the General Meeting (or listed here on this web site, see the Events Calendar where the deadline will be indicated). Remember, when you sign up, you're committed.


The skipper will call you a day or two before the sail with information as to when to show up and where to show up. Our fleet web page has maps for most of our boat locations. If you have not been to a boat before, schedule in enough time to get lost and still be there on time.


Plan to be at the dock a half-hour before scheduled departure. Skippers do not wait for late crew. They are not only instructed to depart on time, but they may need to consider the tide and/or bridge opening schedules. Being late is a Very Bad Idea. Not only do you miss the sail but the Crew Coordinator and skipper will both take this into consideration in the future.

What Happens After You Register

The Crew Coordinator works with the skippers to organize crews. Sometimes this happens right at the monthly meeting. Other times the skippers later telephone their crews to arrange departure times, give driving directions to the boats, suggest food items and special items you may want or need, and more. Usually, this means a phone call the Thursday or Friday before a weekend sail. Be sure to get the skipper's telephone numbers, both home and cell. Give the skipper your cell phone number too, just in case.

Also, if you have the need, ask the skipper if he or she permits smoking on board. Some do, some don't. If there is a problem, report it to the Crew Coordinator and see if there is time to reassign you to another boat.

Crew Responsibility

Our captains need crew for their boats. When you sign up for a sail you are required to show up and sail that day(s). Failure to do so may force the captain — now short-handed — to cancel or limit the sail. Meantime, other club members may have been turned away could have used your assigned crew slot. The club and the Crew Coordinator take a very dim view of such irresponsible behavior.


It is solely the captain's decision as to whether a sail goes out or whether the weather is too bad or other conditions unfavorable. You, as crew do not make that determination for yourself. If in doubt, call the captain.


If you must cancel (for sickness or serious problem only): Call the Skipper and Crre Coordinator as soon as possible so that, if it's not too late, someone else can be assigned to your crew slot.


Failure to show up without adequate prior notification to the Skipper and Crew Coordinator is grounds for severe action, ranging from putting you at the bottom of the list of available crew to termination of your membership. The captain also has the right to ban you from that boat hereafter.


By purchasing or accepting a membership in Bay Sailors, you are agreeing to be a responsible crew.



ATTITUDE AND PHYSICAL ABILITY: It's OK to have no experience. We train people all the time, on every trip. It is not OK to pay no attention or to not be interested in learning how to be more useful to the boat skipper.

A more difficult problem is the person who joins Bay Sailors but who is, for whatever reason, not physically able to carry out the duties of a crew. These are relatively small boats that will, at times, be bouncing in a heavy sea, heeled over 30 degrees and with spray or seas coming across the decks. And you will be told, in all this nasty weather, to get out of the cockpit and go forward to fix something - probably something requiring some body strength. And you will be expected to do it instantly. Can you do that? Be realistic about your physical abilities and don't add to the skipper's already difficult day by becoming "warm ballast" that can only sit in the cockpit.

At such times - bad weather, some emergency, etc. - the skipper may get a little, well,terse with you. He or she is stressed and there just is not time to explain the "why" of things. Just hop to it, obey orders, and don't get upset if you get yelled at. Weall get yelled at on occasion. Learn from it.


WHO'S IN CHARGE? Easy one. The skipper is in charge of the boat and you. THE CAPTAIN'S WORD IS LAW. You have doubtless heard that old expression and it's actually true, in every sense. If you have a suggestion or a question, by all means communicate. But when push comes to shove, you obey orders and that's the end of the discussion.

WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE SAIL: Make certain that you have no plans for the dayor the evening other than the sail. Boats have been known to run aground, or crews to decide to stop off at a marina, or the wind may not cooperate. Sailboats do not run on schedules, so keep your own schedule flexible.

When you sign up for a sail, it's not like agreeing to go to the movies, where you can change your mind at the last minute and no one cares. It is IMPERATIVE that, should you have to cancel, you tell the skipper and the Crew Coordinator AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Not only are you taking up a crew slot that someone else may want, but the skipper is counting upon having a crew to sail the boat. Skippers and cruise coordinators know who cancels sails with no good reason and not enough warning. Those people are then called landlubbers.


Last, go shopping for food, clothes, shoes, even bags in which to put all this stuff. 


WHAT TO BRING: Half the fun of sailing is the shopping. Since you are crew, and don't own the boat (B.O.A.T. means Bring Out Another Thousand) your shopping is, relatively speaking, minor. Some suggestions:

- Soft bag for storage of your stuff. No hard-side suitcases, please. You might want several sizes of soft bag, a small one for day sails and a larger version for overnights.

- A small soft-side cooler might be allowed to remain aboard. Skippers usually ask you to take out the cold items from large Igloo-type coolers, transfer the food to the boat's own refrigerator, and take the coolers back to your cars. There's just no space for them. (But it's OK to bring the larger cooler, just expect to unload it at the boat.)

- Dress: Think light. Think layers. In the summer a long-sleeve loose shirt is good. In the winter that plus a sweater and a windbreaker is usually sufficient. Summer shorts are fine but in winter expect to wear long pants. In the summer you get twice the sun (it reflects off the water) and in the winter it is usually colder on the water than on land.

- Hat and sunglasses: A hat is a must and it should have both a wide brim, and a chin strap to keep it from blowing overboard. Sunglasses will keep you from getting a headache from the sun. Polarized glasses are better.


- Sunscreen: No oils, please. Bring GOOD sunscreen and use it often and liberally, and you will be fine. Stores that sell Hawaiian Tropic brand may have Ozone Sunblock. It's SPF-60, comes in a grey bottle, and is like wrapping yourself in aluminum foil.

- Shoes: You should wear shoes for traction and to protect your toes from about a hundred pointy steel objects attached to the decks. Flip-flops or sandals are a big no-no. Shoes should be boat shoes (preferred) or some sneaker-soled type with good sole traction on wet decks. Soles should be white or natural rubber, as other colors make marks on the deck—which you will be told to clean off.

- Sailing gloves will protect your hands from abrasive lines or anchor chains. Foul-weather gear (sort of raincoats on steroids) are good for, well, foul weather. For day sails, a light windbreaker and some willingness to wear damp shorts is all you need.


- A common question skippers get is, "Do I need to bring my own life jacket?" No, you do not. All our boats have plenty on board. You may PREFER to bring a personal life jacket and that's fine so long as it meets the U.S. Coast Guard requirements.

- For overnight sails, bring a compact set of toiletries. Forget anything that needs AC power. If women wish to bring their makeup, or men their razors (or vice-versa) that's fine, but keep it small. Towel, wash cloth, toothbrush, soap and comb are good. Everything else is extra. On board, you may use the head for a sponge bath or even a shower. Our Dock-and-Dine overnights at marinas give you shoreside showers and toilets.

- Medications: bring what you will need and plan for any unexpected delays. If refrigeration is needed, check with the skipper to see if that is available.

- Also for overnight, a sleeping bag or small blanket is good. In the summer even a large beach towel suffices. A small pillow is good, but you will not need an air mattress. The boats have ample cushions. You may bring your teddy bear, but we will speak of it at the next general meeting.

Last, remember that all of this (except the sleeping bag and pillow) should fit into ONE SOFT bag, with a second bag or cooler for food.


FOOD: Crew members share equally in provisioning for a weekend cruise. Ask the skipper, or whomever he or she designates as the food-person, what to bring. On day sails, the easiest solution is for each person to bring his or her own food and drink, and maybe some small item to share. For overnight or longer sails some effort will be made to coordinate meals.


Remember that these meals will be cooked over a small barbecue grill (if at anchor) or on a small two-burner alcohol or propane stove (at anchor or underway). The stoves heat up the cabins and are not as fast to cook as your home equipment. Consider pre-cooking a meal, or bringing a meal that is otherwise quick and easy to prepare.

Lunch is generally eaten underway, so items that can be held in one hand and eaten without utensils are good, though we don't make a rule about this.

At Dock & Dines, we usually eat dinner in the marina/yacht club restaurant. Often, we eat breakfast there too. Ask the skipper for details about any Dock & Dines. Bring money and perhaps casual clothing to wear to the restaurant.

As with everything you bring aboard, keep it simple and compact. If you want to bring some pickles, put a few into a Ziplock baggie; don't bring the whole pickle jar. That sort of thing. Boats have minor condiments aboard and plastic plates and utensils. Check with the skipper if you have any questions.

Perishables should be in Ziplock baggies, the better to store in the small icebox aboard the boat. Some drinks, like water, ice tea, fruit juice, can be frozen and used aboard the boat as additional 'ice' until you drink them. If at all possible, avoid bringing glass bottles aboard.

Bring any drinks you like for yourself. Once at an anchorage or marina it is OK to drink alcoholic beverages. Check with the skipper first, though, as he or she may wish to move the boat or otherwise need a clear-headed crew. Please do NOT bring red wine or anything else that may stain the decks.


YOUR DUTIES ABOARD THE BOAT: Remember that you are filling a space as a working crew member on a sailing vessel. You are expected to help the skipper with any and all seamanship chores on board the boat. Want to learn to sail and have a blast doing it? Stick with Bay Sailors. Want someone in a white jacket bringing you drinks with tiny umbrellas? Call Princess Cruise lines.

Upon arrival, quickly store your food and storage bag. Then pitch in. The skipper may need the deck washed, or a shore power line stowed or many other chores.

The skipper will give a short orientation which will include location of safety equipment and life jackets, proper operation of the head, how to start and stop the engine, and more. Pay close attention. If the skipper falls down in a fit, you will need to get the skipper, yourself, your fellow crewmembers, and the boat home.


Be honest about your skills. Situations will arise where the skipper must know who has the skills to carry out the tasks needed. It's OK to be a novice; we teach novices. But be realistic about your experience.


For much the same reasons, don't play with equipment you don't understand and, if told to adjust the fo'tops'l Cunningham halyard, and you don't know what that is, SAY SO.


RESPECT THE BOAT: The skipper has a good reason for storing things where they are stored. Don't move things without permission. Store your bag and food where told. Keep your stuff IN your bag when not using it; don’t scatter your belongings about the boat. When storing things, consider how they will react to the boat heeling 40 degrees one way or the other. Will they end up on the cabin floor?


SAFETY FIRST: There is an old saying (sailors are full of old sayings): "One hand for yourself, one hand for the ship." In short, Do Not Let Go. Fortunately, a sailboat is such a spiderweb of rigging, lines and sheets, lifelines, handholds, etc., that it is actually rather hard to manage to fall overboard. If you are a poor swimmer, wear a lifejacket. There are some on the boat, or you may buy a more personalized (and usually more comfortable) one for yourself. Especially handy are the belt-pouch inflatable ones. You strap it on and forget it's there. For offshore/overnight work we usually want crew to have SOSpenders, a sort of inflatable pair of suspenders with an attachment for a 'harness' or line that permits you to be roped to the boat all the time. Put that on and hook up, and you have no worries, mate.

Frankly, the most likely injuries are minor scrapes and bumps. Indeed, if you come home without any dermal abrasions, you did not try hard. Club meetings are sometimes like Show & Tell for bruises. The member stood up when she should have sat down. He walked when he should have crawled. Or she held something in both hands and forgot to keep One Hand for Herself. A boat is the one place where you can fall on your face and nobody will laugh. They’ve all done it too.

CLEANUP: When you return to the dock, don't expect to hop off and drive away. You are expected to help the skipper clean the boat BEFORE and AFTER the sail. This means hosing/swabbing the deck, cleaning out the icebox, cleaning the head, and anything else the skipper needs.

APRES-SAIL: The crew may do an after-sail drink or dinner. Always a good idea to have a change of clothes kept in the car for such things.

International Bareboat Charters

For those interested in international or out-of-state charter cruises, please see this link for the International Bareboat Charter Expectations.