Crewing a boat in Italy

If you love sailing, or just have an unquenchable taste for adventure and new experiences, you can sign on to help crew a boat just about anywhere in the world

In the interests of full disclosure: those swabbies in the photograph aren't actually bumming a free ride; they're guys from my scout troop, and we're sailing the Florida Keys, not the Med.
In the interests of full disclosure: those swabbies in the photograph aren't actually bumming a free ride; they're guys from my scout troop, and we're sailing the Florida Keys, not the Med.

Yes, you can sign up for a small sailboat cruise of the Amalfi Coast or Siclian islands and pay for the privlege (though it's cheaper than you might think).

But there's another way, a free way, to sail the coasts of Italy. You just have to be willing to be a deckhand, swabbie, an/or cook.

Of course, Shanghaiing yourself onto a sailboat means work, so it's not totally "free" in that sense, but what an opportunity. Resources like the Float Plan (a.k.a. The Cruisers' Companion; see below) helps you find skippers seeking crews and mates to serve on board or just join in a trip for companionship.

(The site is also used by folks looking for others to sail with them as equals, not employees, and therefore share the expense.)

Usually we're talking small sailing vessels, sometimes motorboats or even yachts. You may sign on as a cook, mate, swabbie, or all-around helper doing all the odd jobs. Sailing or boating experience is sometimes required, often not.

But don't worry; if it only took us a day to teach a group of 14 year old Boy Scouts how to sail in a bay off Miami (see the photo above), you can learn it, too. Sometimes you even get a small stipend; usually you just get free room (er, berth) and board. Occasionally, there is a small fee to cover your meals—but, hey: it's a chance to sail the Mediterranean on the cheap.

'Course, since you're not the captain, you go where the boat owner wants to go. But if the actual itinerary isn't all that important to you and you just to travel and see the world, this can be quite an adventure.

Recent postings on the site included 90-foot luxury motor yacht looking for deckhands and caterers to help crew its leisurely trip out from Genova around the islands of Italy (room and board provided), a 35-foot sailing sloop that's currently hanging around the Maddalena Islands off the north coast of Sardegna and is happy to train newbie sailors (expect to contribute €30 toward common kitty for expenses), and another boat looking for crew to help spend two months sailing all around the Med from Turkey to France (you'd pay $30 per day food).


Tips & links

Crewing links & resources
Other lodging links & resources
Useful Italian
Useful Italian phrases and terms for lodging

English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah

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