What are they?
‘Stowaways’ are members who do not routinely sail with a club skipper but who join a skipper’s yacht on one of the club’s sailing events. For skippers, it’s a way of finding crew, contributing to the operation of the club and improving the overall sailing experience. For the club it encourages participation in club sailing events by newer members who do not own their own boats. There are annual trophies for the person who stows away most often (but has not previously been awarded the trophy), and for the boat with stowaways on the most rallies. A number of people who now own boats started in the club as stowaways.
What makes it a success?
A wide variety of yachts are owned by Club members, typically from 8 metres to 12 metres. Some owners have sailed for over 50 years whilst others have bought their first yacht more recently, so there’s the potential to gain a variety of crewing experience. Skippers should not generally expect any particular level of sailing experience or knowledge from a stowaway, although crew that have completed RYA theory and practical courses, or are working towards them, are always of value. Sharing any areas of special interest or concerns beforehand will also help the skipper plan accordingly and make the experience more positive and enjoyable for both skipper and crew.
How does it work?
Getting to meet and know skippers face to face at the clubhouse on Tuesday evenings is a good way to find the opportunity for a berth; coming along regularly and doing the occasional bar duty is a good way to get yourself known. Your profile on the Member Directory should give details of your qualifications and experience, and what you might be looking for. Note: not all boat owners take crew as stowaways, and those that do, may not do it regularly. Those who potentially do can be seen in the Member Directory with a Y in the second column under the boat name.
There is a WhatsApp group called GCCC Crewing Chatter. This is intended for informal conversations between skippers looking for crew, and crew looking to gain experience, and is not restricted to Club Rallies and Cruises. Details are available on the Members/General Information page.
Agree when and where to meet. Provisioning (food & drink) for the boat is normally organised by the skipper, on the basis of a shared expense together with the cost of diesel and any marina fees. Bring wet weather gear and a life jacket, if not supplied, together with a sleeping bag, towel, toiletries bag, pillow case & accessories etc. Space on boats is usually tight so pack light and use a collapsible hold-all. Spare lifejackets are usually available although many crew prefer to bring their own.
Try not to be late for the tide. Last minute issues can crop up, but barring this, try not to pull out at the last minute which may leave the skipper scrambling for a replacement. The main thing for all concerned is to have a good time.
Stowing away is a Club activity and not a commercial one. Members taking part in Club sailing activities acknowledge that they must take reasonable care for the safety of themselves and others. By participating in an event, you agree that neither the Club nor any other member shall be liable to you for any loss, demise or personal injury beyond the minimum required by law.
The rationale for this Trophy is to encourage people into sailing, to help club members without boats to build their sailing experience and to support skippers looking for crew.