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photo_Crewing a yacht delivery

Crewing a yacht delivery

05.30.2012 11:56:07dans Tips for VogAvecMoi's users

Cliquez ici pour lire ce post en Français


One of the best known ways of going sailing at little cost is to taken as a crew on a yacht delivery trip.


Vogavecmoi, the boat hitchiking site, regularly has crewing offers from yacht delivery skippers, some pros, some not. Many also want to draw crews’ attention to less scrupulous offers from elsewhere.


Embarking non-professional crew members can pose serious safety problems for the crew and for the vessel. Furthermore, this practice can result in unfair competition between honest skippers who respect the rules and charge the real costs of the trip and the less scrupulous, who don’t.


To avoid any mistake, we have first defined and then excluded from our study, delivery trips undertaken by the owner of his own yacht.


An owner’s delivery trip

We use the expression “delivery trip” for both amateurs and professionals when the aim is to get from Place A to Place B in the shortest possible time.

E.g: Mr. X - the owner of a yacht based in Plymouth wants to do Cowes Week in August, and the yacht needs to be there at the latest the Thursday before. Mr. X therefore is looking for one or two crew members to deliver the yacht from Plymouth to Cowes leaving three days before. Although undertaken by an amateur, the term “delivery trip” applies. (Without the time constraint, we refer to a “delivery cruise”). On a delivery trip you don’t normally stop and you sail at night if you need to. On arrival in Cowes the trip is over and everyone goes their own way.


When a delivery trip is undertaken by a skipper in the course of his profession, a delivery trip has specific requirements that must be known. We are therefore going to focus on professional deliveries.


Professional delivery trips

In strictly legal terms in France (don't hesitate to write us to share informations about others regulations) the term “delivery trip” is limited to a professional voyage. According to the 20 January circular relating to delivery trips, unplublished but originating with the French secretary of state for the sea, a delivery trip is a “paid sea voyage between two ports or sites without paying passengers or freight”.


In the context of a delivery trip the skipper must abide by the rules in that circular. Those obligations relate mainly to the need for previous experience in order to ensure the safety of both the vessel and its crew.


What are the rules?

The circular sets out the minima acceptable crew levels according to the length of the trip and the presence or absence of an auto-pilot. 


Expected duration

Minimum crew

Less than 12 hours


Professional skipper


12 to 24 hours; no autopilot

Professional skipper, plus 1 professional crew


12 to 24 hours; with autopilot


Professional skipper


Over 24 hours; no autopilot


Professional skipper, plus 2 professional crew


Over 24 hours; with autopilot


Professional skipper, plus 1 professional crew





Those obligations are identical regadless of whether the trip is from France to France or overseas. However lack of control elsewhere means that what skippers do in practice may differ from those norms.


1st Comment

The circular forbids taking a paying passenger, but does not forbid carrying non-paying passengers as long as the rules set out above are respected.


2nd Comment

As a non-professional crew, you cannot expect remuneration, and you are supposed to pay for your own food and drink as well as return transport


3rd Comment

You cannot be asked for payment for being aboard. The skipper cannot add a charge to you (a chartr fee) to his charge to the owner for the delivery trip.

Advice to amateur crew on a professional delivery trip

For your own safety, and to make sure that your skipper is not in breach of the law, ask him the right questions. He will welcome your concerns and they will be seen as proof of your seriousness.


  1. 1. Forecast duration
  2. 2. Is there an autopilot?
  3. 3. What is the total crew and its breakdown?
  4. 4. Your “deal” :
    • - Food costs
    • - Stops
    • - Definition of your responsiblities on board (watch, manoeuvres, helming, night watches, cooking, victualling,...)
    • - Weather forecast


If the rules seem to be respected and the conditions of joining the crew are OK with you, you can join the crew as an amateur.


If the rules are not respected, you don't like the deal, or you are asked for payment, don't go!



The advantages of crewing on a professional delivery trip

1. The experience of the skipper; he is a qualified professional with extensive sailing experience able to bring you safely to your destination. Do not take him as your personal sailing instructor; that is a different qualification that he may not have, and he may not want to do that anyway.


2. The state of the boat: mostly delivery trips are of new yachts so in mint condition. In any case a good skipper will not accept to deliver a yacht unfit to make the passage.


3. The atmosphere on board: there again because he is experienced he will know how to manage his crew. A good jockey looks after his mount!


4. If you are in a hurry a delivery trip is the fastest way to sail there.

The disadvantages of crewing on a professional delivery trip

1. The serious atmosphere because the skipper is not on holiday, so you aren't either. No evening aperitif, no anchoring in secluded bays for the night, no festive barbecues.


2. No stops en route. Time is money – an expression also true of professional delivery skippers.


3. You should also know that if the yacht is brand spanking new, the aim will be to keep it that way, taking off the least possible plastic prtotection. You may well be “hot bedding”, but at least there won't be a massive cleaning job at the end of the trip.



Cet article a été rédigé avec l'aide et à la participation de :

Le site web Jurisplaisance.free.fr

Centre de droit océanique et maritime (CDMO) de l'Université de Nantes

La photo "catamaran au crépuscule" est gracieusement mise à notre disposition par Planètes Mer Service, convoyeur professionnel de bateau.


On this point see also :

Etre équipier pour une transatlantique retour : le bon plan!

Hitch a boat : join the VogAvecMoi crew list

Bourse d'équipiers : devenez équipier sur un voilier

Naviguer avec un inconnu : conseils aux co-navigatrices

Zizanies à bord, la bible de la co-navigation

Voyage en voilier : les voyageurs en voilier cherchant un équipier

Voyage en voilier : besoin d'une assurance voyage?

L'aventure en convoyage (lien externe lapresse.ca)



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