The question of how to find good crew for an offshore yacht passage can often be a vexing one. There are several avenues down which a sailor can search; websites, classified sections of nautical publications, notice boards and personal recommendations. Websites usually have large listings of competent crew but applicants normally expect payment and agencies want commissions. Classifieds can be confusing by their often ambiguous and tempting lingo. Here's an example: 'Young adventurous female desires crew placement on sailing yacht; very experienced in many positions and loves skinny dipping. Can cook, clean, steer the boat and take orders from the most demanding captain'. The wannabe crew will likely receive a lot of replies but the eventual captain may soon be disillusioned when he finds an overweight, middle-aged divorcee and recently discovered lesbian lounging around his salon and eating all his supplies before throwing up all over the cabin sole.
Of course captains can be equally devious. One penniless shipwrecked captain I once knew placed the following advertisement in a sailing magazine: 'Experienced world sailor, navigator, and qualified captain seeks female boat owner for relationship. Please send photo … OF BOAT.'
Charlie has seen a business opportunity here and has decided to start a website, Wikicrew. Actually it started out as WickedCrew but was shortened. There are several sub-headings like Sailing Yachts, Racing Boats, Stink Pots, Super Stink Pots, Merchant Ships and Cattle Boats. If you want a job on a cruise ship, go to the latter; a gas guzzling carbon foot-printer, then go to Super Stink Pots. You get the idea? Then there are sub sub-headings like: good cook, can't cook, deck apes, bow candy, romance, sex no strings, share expenses, work for passage, sex for passage. The idea is to get all the worrisome maybes, mightbes and couldbes out of the way before heading out to sea. Every applicant must provide full length photos, both head on and profile, so no-one is disappointed. Once a handsome, muscle bound deck ape type sent a head and shoulders picture to a lonely female sail boat captain; she was immediately seduced but later somewhat shocked when she discovered he had no legs (a happy ending here: he wasn't incapacitated in any other area and in fact turned out to be a wizard in the rather cramped engine room).
Lately Charlie has been seeing dollar signs he is so convinced Wikicrew will be a success. He is now contemplating an interactive website, Crewbook: the sharing of nautical adventures, likes and dislikes of crew members, fetishes, fancies and friggin' in the riggin', all on video link. Boom! The sky's the limit.
Julian Putley is the author of 'The Drinking Man's Guide to the BVI', 'Sunfun Calypso', and 'Sunfun Gospel'.