From the traditional boat designs of Turkish gulets and Malay sailing boats to solar powered ferries, Workaway and HelpX provide a few opportunities for messing around on the water – once you’ve got everything shipshape that is.
A word of warning: while the idea of working on a boat sounds appealing most skippers will expect a lot of hard work. Though no stranger to graft, having worked in a Malaysian paddy field, blogger Sally Thelen’s stories of life on a Malaysian sail boat, from the endless sanding and varnishing to jumping ship, are well worth a read (via Wayback Machine).
Each year this 120 year old sailing vessel delivers 15 to 20 tonnes of donated educational and medical supplies on an 8,000 mile voyage to remote island communities in Southeast Asia. Volunteers must be able to amuse themselves, learn fast, not get sea sick and work well with their hands. For the right person this position can lead to the training needed for a full skippers license.
Stationed in Langkawi, volunteers on the Naga Pelangi can experience life on a traditional wooden sailing boat in a beautiful tropical setting, doing maintenance work, sanding, varnishing, painting and standard upkeep while the boat waits for charter work. No sailing skills are required but carpenters, mechanics and electricians willing to chip in for their living costs are welcomed.
Help out with woodwork, painting, electrics and plumbing while the 50 year old boat is moored in Burgundy and time on board is offered when the owners reach the Med.
This German-Italian family living in Alicante have a sailing boat and glamping site in the mountains. In return for helping out you will receive a comfy bed and delicious home-made food and many interesting projects to help with. Accommodation will be either in the family house in Alicante, on the sailing boat or in Moroccan tents in the mountains.
In the summer months this host drives a solar ferry boat from his home island of Reichenau to the Swiss side of the lake. While he can do this alone the law says he needs a co-pilot in case of emergency. There are other tasks needing doing around the house and garden but for the tourism business volunteers should be reliable, honest females sure with the water.
Sanding and varnishing are the main tasks that need doing to keep two wood boats maintained for use on Lake Como.
Workawayers, aged over 21, with previous bar and cocktail making experience are provided with free accommodation onboard, meals and drinks in exchange for tending bar on the Med. Applicants should be available for three months.
Help wanted to finish rebuilding and refurbishing a 30+ft long sailing yacht with the chance to take it sailing if you’re lucky enough to be about at the end of the task.
There is a lot of maintenance on boats, cleaning and repairs to do all year long, so the owner of a 48ft trimaran welcomes hard working people to experiment with life on a boat in a lagoon in French Polynesia.
At the time of writing this last host is currently on leave in the Maldives and not accepting volunteers but those able to hold a screwdriver or a paint brush correctly might like to check this one out in the future.
Image courtesy Ree Dexter.