I thought finding a boat to sail to the South Pacific would be easier than it actually turned out to be. My confidence a result of receiving emails from captains who saw my profile on crew finding websites and were interested in me joining their boat despite the fact that I had very little sailing experience. A friend thought I was crazy to consider sailing with one of these “salty dogs” when obviously to my naivety they only had one thing in mind. I said nonsense, choosing to give these guys the benefit of the doubt … but after my experiences in trying to find a boat I will let you all say “I told you so.”
My search for a boat took a drastic turn once Tom decided he wanted to sail to the islands with me and we began to search for a boat as a couple. We created a new joint profile on findacrew.com and received daily “boat matches” of those that showed a high compatibility with us based on mutual preferences. We would then send a captain a “wave” which basically alerts him we are interested. After the captain reviews our profile he would respond to our wave with “yes”, “no” or “maybe”. To our surprise most of these captains responded “NO” to our waves, leaving us wondering why they didn’t desire us when we were 95% compatible!? We feel the answer lies in the other 5% that did not match up with the captain’s preference of FEMALE crew only.
In the meantime, my single Kelly only crewing profile was receiving heaps of responses from captains all over the world. I had offers to go cruising through the Mediterranean, French Polynesia Islands, the Caribbean, etc. etc. even though my profile clearly states that I want to sail through the South Pacific Islands.
I was starting to see a pattern and I decided to do a little test after the “Tom & Kelly couples profile ” was denied by another captain who was a 98% match! I sent a wave to the same captain through “Kelly only profile” and I do not lie when I report that less than five minutes I received a very enthusiastic email from the male captain inviting me to sail with him to Fiji saying he would even sail out of his way to take me to Minerva Reefs as he read on my profile I am a diver. I responded and told him great, that all sounds perfect and in case I forgot to mention my boyfriend is traveling with me. I received a very short response “I am interviewing others so I will let you know.” Needless to say, we were not surprised when we never heard from him again!
Poor Thomas was beginning to feel like a liability and apologized for holding me back in my quest to find a boat. I told him that was silly and I am glad I can use him as a test to whether or not a captain is indeed a salty dog (aka. dirty old man!).
Gender preference/discrimination is the apparent norm in yachtie culture despite the nautical superstition that women are bad luck on boats given the fact that boats are considered to be female and having another woman on board could make that boat jealous!
We decided we needed more face to face time with these yachties, convinced if they actually met us they would like us so much they would invite us on board regardless of their gender preferences. While knocking on boats in Whangarai we met a retired Swiss captain who said yes he was indeed looking for crew. As he and Tom spoke in Swiss German I stood silently, wondering what the hell they were talking about but feeling optimistic in the possibility that he might like to have a fellow countrymen on board. But then to my dismay I heard those three little words we had come to fear the most … FEMALE CREW ONLY!
Unbelievable! Or was it? As frustrating as I was beginning to find our search I could understand as well. If I was a single man I would also probably prefer a harem of beautiful women in bikinis on my yacht as opposed to a bunch of dirty dudes. Tom and I joked that the only way we were going to get on a boat was if the Captain were female … this seemingly an unlikely scenario.