Doing a delivery? Ask the right questions

Published on June 6th, 2022

The opportunity to be onboard for a sailboat delivery, whether as captain or crew, can be a great learning experience and adventure, but if you don’t ask the right questions, you could find yourself in an unpleasant and potentially dangerous situation. Each boat, crew, and journey is unique, so it’s important to iron out the details of the situation you’re going to endeavor into.

Before setting sail with people and/or a vessel that you are unfamiliar with, consider these suggested questions to help you gather valuable information that can determine if this is a trip that is worthy of your time and energy. However, as many questions as you can ask to prepare for the journey and vet your future co-workers, the nature of deliveries requires you to practice flexibility and to anticipate circumstances and plans to shift.

Scheduling – What is the proposed departure and arrival window?
Projected days of departure and arrival should have a margin of a few days added on to either end of the trip to account for unforeseen circumstances such as mechanical and electronic failures, human error, and especially weather. Make sure that crew and those orchestrating the delivery bear this flexibility in mind when it comes to scheduling.

Weather – What is the forecasted weather window? What is the protocol for checking weather, at port and underway?
Navigating a safe weather window is crucial to the well-being of the boat and crew. Although different captains and vessels can handle different intensities of weather, it is imperative to communicate about the forecast. When discussing weather with the captain and crew, look up the forecast together. Your personal awareness of the weather is important and there are several apps that enable you to check the forecast yourself.

For crew: If a captain’s decisions for the upcoming trip make you uncomfortable for any reason, it is important to listen to your instincts, as a captain’s recklessness may take you into situations that are potentially unsafe or above your abilities.

Compensation and Coverage of Costs – How will I be compensated? What is each party responsible for affording?
Deliveries are not your typical nine-to-five job with set hourly pay. Each boat will have its own payment structures. Specifying rates and means of payment is crucial, especially since there usually aren’t formal contracts associated with delivery jobs. Communicating compensation expectations should include the general daily rate, when you will get paid, what type of currency will be used, the different rates underway versus in port, and which expenses you are expected to cover.

Clarifying who is responsible for affording transportation, such as ride-share and plane tickets, provisions, customs fees, COVID tests, and general costs in port will also avoid unwanted future misunderstandings or tensions between the captain, crew, owners, or brokers. – Full story

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