Running away to sea has long been a thing but unionisation and modernity are just two reasons why adventures under sail are scarcer than they once would have been. Classic Sailing has some advice on how to work in tall ships and for those with the appropriate skills might have some paid job vacancies too.
If you like boats but don’t have the time or inclination to sail away then consider a shore based role. The Jubilee Sailing Trust, for instance, provides accommodation on board and three hearty meals a day to the volunteers helping to keep their ships maintained.
Tall Ship Pelican is another vessel in need of shore based assistance to keep operational and, as a bonus addition to the three options listed below, they also take on offshore crew aged over 18 with sailing experience on a voyage of five days or more.
Tall Ships Adventures
The Tall Ships Youth Trust is dedicated to the personal development of young people through the crewing of ocean going sail training vessels. On average, 70% of the young people sailing with TSYT are disadvantaged or disabled. Volunteer watch leaders, deckhands or cooks need to have already taken a five day voyage on their brig, earning a recommendation, before they are taken on board. Volunteer youth mentors, with national or vocational qualifications in youth work, teaching or social work, and two years front line experience working with young people, are also sought.
More information at www.tallships.org/volunteer/
Tall Ship Kaskelot
Kaskelot is a three-masted barque and one of the largest remaining wooden ships in commission. One former volunteer is the appropriately named Laurel Seaborn, who wrote in Transitions Abroad about her experiences working in exchange for room, board, and a modest stipend (the ship has since passed into new hands so some details may have changed). Highlights for her included touring harbour festivals in Britain and France, and sailing to Malta for a film shoot. As recently as July they mentioned there were a limited number of paid positions available, though I would assume these are for experienced sailors.
More information at www.tallshipkaskelot.com/volunteers/
Morvargh Sailing Project
Provides sail training voyages for young people on their 57ft tall ship, Helen Mary R, sailing from Sutton Harbour in Plymouth and ports on the South West coast. Volunteers here are called afterguard, a traditional term used to describe the staff on a sail training vessel, who should have some sailing experience and/or a real interest in the welfare of young people.
More information at www.morvargh-sailing.co.uk/volunteering/