The 7 best Crew Finder websites in North America

May 24, 2023
Team Coboaters

Understand which website is best for you to find a crew for you next sailing experience is not easy. There are numerous crew finder possibilities. This article will help you compare the most popular ones in North America.

Why Crew Finder websites are so useful in US and Canada?

There is a common belief that boat owners, skippers and captains can sail often and wherever they want. There is another belief that sailors who don’t own boats simply cannot sail or spend time on the water. This is actually untrue. Why? Because there is a new way of sailing, a new concept making its way to North America: Coboating, or boat sharing.

In this article, we will follow John, a skipper and boat owner and Stephanie, a crew in their quest to sail more often and in better conditions.

We provide an exclusive comparison of the most popular websites:

  • Features and functionalities

  • Cost and membership fees

  • Benefits

  • Membership supports and help centers

The 7 most popular crew finder sites

North American sites:

  1. www.coboaters.com

  2. www.Railmeets.com

  3. www.Offshore Passage Opportunity (OPO)

  4. www.Gosailing (app only)

UK based sites:

  1. www.Crewbay.com

  2. www.Crewseekers.net

Australian based sites:

  1. www.Findacrew.net

  • Coboaters is US-based (Rhode Island) and it is dedicated to North America, namely the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Most members are located in North America with some worldwide. It welcomes both sailboats and powerboats for freshwater and ocean opportunities.

  • Railmeets is based in the US and dedicated to racing crews and boats.

  • Offshore Passage Opportunities is the US-based and focus on offshore trips. There is no online sailor profiles or boat descriptions.

  • Gosailing is sponsored by American Sailing Association, but it is only available as an app. It is dedicated solely to the USA. John noticed that most crew requests were posted by sailing clubs or professional charters linked with ASA.

  • Crewbay is UK-based and European oriented. They offer recreational opportunities but also professional crew search for larger yachts and professional captains, deckhands, crew and cooks. It seems that it is very British sailing and Royal Yacht Club oriented.

  • Crewseekers is in the UK, Most opportunities are outside North America. It is great for worlwide and offshore cruises and deliveries.

  • Findacrew is Australian based and covers the entire world. It is probably the largest sailing network but most members are European. The website looks very dated and does not seem to very up to date.

Why would a boat owner need a crew finder website?

John owns a 40 feet. monohull somewhere in the mid-Atlantic US and that Stephanie lives by the ocean in the Northeast. Both want to sail more, meet fellow sailors, and enjoy time on the water. They do have family and friends, but none that really enjoys sailing as much as they do.

John needs two crew members on board to sail his 40 feet, especially now that he wants to reach a new destination about 100 miles away. He tried many different ways to find sailing partners—he used social media, notably Facebook. Two years ago, he joined a Facebook crew finder group and posted requests. It sometimes worked, and he was able to connect with two or three good sailors who were willing to join him. But he was also let down many times, connecting with unreliable people or scammers. The same issue repeats every year, and John wastes so much time having to screen so many replies, discuss plans with so many people, and repeat the same information several times while some of the only people who answered his request have little to no experience and do not match his needs at all.

Sailor without boat need to meet other boaters

Meanwhile, Stephanie has some experience because she followed American Sailing Association courses (ASA) and managed to get ASA certification. She also sailed when she was younger on small boats in the summer. Last year, she met a boat owner and they sailed together for a short delivery between Newport, RI and New York City. She had a great time, but the skipper is now in the Bahamas and Stephanie is back to square one. She is a good sailor without a boat who wants to find a boat locally, but she is also willing to travel and join a crew. It would be her ideal way to spend her time off.

She also tried Facebook and other social media, but it was unreliable, not always safe and extremely time consuming. She did not like talking to strangers or feel safe sharing her profile and her data with everyone out there. She had to repeat the same thing to every contact, explaining why she can be a good crew member, what she was expecting and what looking for. She just wishes she could post her sailing resume somewhere and have a way to reach out boat owners and other sailors.

Screenshot showing sailors profile on crew finder website
Screenshot showing sailors profile on crew finder website

Coboating is the answer! Boat sharing as a solution for both boat owners and crew

For a boat owner, coboating is the best way to welcome new crew members aboard to make all your sailing dreams come true. You get to sail more and use your boat more often while giving the opportunity for others to gain experience and to help you. You can share your boat and spend time with other people, and everyone benefits from the experience.

For a crew member, Coboating means that you share your time, knowledge, and sailing skills with others on board of a boat that you do not need to own to have a great time on the water.

Screenshot showing boats looking for crew
Example of ads posted by Skippers looking for crew

Sharing is caring and sharing is sailing!

The idea of sharing may seem to have been forgotten nowadays, but this is untrue. Don’t we share our apartment or one bedroom when we use AirBnb? Don’t we share cars when we carpool to work every morning?

Coboating is a similar concept: it works for both skippers and crew because they need each other. Crew members need to find boats and boat owners need a crew. Boat sharing is the answer to turning difficulty connecting into great socializing and boating experiences. It’s as simple as that!

How can our two sailors go sailing together?

Stephanie does not want to sail with strangers, she needs to make sure it is safe, and she needs to meet the skipper first. John wants to make sure the crew will be able to sail independently while he does something else, and that crew members know a few things on board like hosting the main. He is willing to take on beginners if there is at least one other experienced crew on board.

What are the Crew and boat owners challenges ?

1- How and where can they even begin to connect?

2- How do they find out about each other’s needs, expectations, plans and availability?

3- How can they quickly and easily share their sailing resume, skills and experience?

4- What guarantee do they have that their communication is safe and their private data secure?

5- How can Stephanie learn more about John’s boat? How can John find out more about Stephanie’s experience and availability?

6- Lastly, what guarantee do they have that the other person is trustworthy and reliable?

A list of crew finder websites

Stephanie and John and unlikely to meet because they do not live close to each other, and do not have friends in common to introduce them. Like most people, they might go online and try to look for a solution.

As mentioned earlier, social media such as Facebook groups have failed to help them go sailing because of their lack of privacy, inefficiency and unreliability. Like many things, modern technology and the internet have made many things easier. But sometimes, the offer can just be overwhelming. Let’s see which websites sailors can turn to.

Both John and Stephanie found several options and websites that might work for them. John, who is a very meticulous and organized man, decided to list and compare them all.

Here is his list of crew connection websites:

– Coboaters.com

– Crewbay.com

– Gosailing (app only)

– Offshore Sailing Opportunity

– Railmeets

– Findacrew.net

How do all these websites compare? Where are they located, and where do they operate?

All of them seem to be pretty good at first, but as a boat owner, John wants to make sure he chooses the right website for him at the best value. Most of them require a subscription fee to access to the boat and crew listings.

His first concern was to find a North American site, or a site with US members and opportunities.

What are the most important criteria for Crew finder websites?

John continues his comparison and decides to list the most important criteria. He wants to make sure he will be able to find the right crew at the right time and for the best possible cost, so he can go sailing with other people in the best possible conditions.

He is taking the following features into account:

  • Does the website allow crew members and skippers to post a detailed profile, including boating experience?

  • Can boats be described in detail?

  • Is there a free and reliable ID check?

  • Is there a boating resume template to fill up for quick and efficient crew screening?

  • Can you post crew requests with enough details and requirements?

  • Can crew members post their own boat search, detailing dates when they’re available, port of departure and destination preferences?

  • Are there reviews and testimonials?

  • How is customer service and site moderation? Do they provide proper assistance?

  • Does the website offer membership gifts and benefits?

  • Are there promo codes and special offers?

Crew finder websites Comparison table

Crew finder comparison table

How much do Crew Finder websites cost?

John also drew up a cost comparison table, asking:

  • Can you create a profile for free?

  • Can you contact or be contacted by other members without becoming a paying member?

  • What plans are available? (Monthly, Weekly, Yearly)

Crew finder website prices comparison

Camparison table: which site is the most cost effective

Based on this analysis and thanks to his business background, John draws a graph to compare all websites.

Graphic comparison of crew finder websites.

Graphic comparison of crew finder websites in North America

Is there something else than crew finder websites?

Meanwhile, sailor and crew member Stephanie did her own research. She found the same websites as John but also realized that there are some local crew finder sites dedicated to certain areas or sailing niches. Some of them are hosted by boating and sailing magazines.

Here is her list and a few notes:

Spinsheet Crew Finder page: Spinsheet is dedicated to Chesapeake Bay. There is almost no privacy as members email addresses are shared with all viewers. Bost requests are quite basic and there is no sailing resume.

PointsEast is a sailing magazine for the US Northeast. There is one page for crew finder with a few opportunities listed. Contact data is not protected, privacy is limited.

Windcheck is another sailing magazine with a lot of useful information and articles. It also has a page for crew finder but like the other magazines, services are basic.

Lattitude 38 is based in California and offer similar crew finding pages for the West Coast.

Stephanie concluded that she could use those crew finder sites only if she sails in the areas they cover, which really disappointed her. She also doesn’t like the lack of privacy and the fact that her email will be visible to every website visitor. The good news is that all of them are free!

We don’t know if John and Stephanie have sailed together yet, but we do know that boat sharing is the solution for both their problems. Coboating the best way for them to get on the water for an amazing sailing experience.

Recommendations and reviews:

Coboaters

Probably the best of all-rounder with many features, including boat profiles, sailor profiles and posting detailed notices with availability for crew and for skippers. They provide opportunities all over the USA, Canada and the Caribbean and it also provides a useful crew management tool. Website design makes navigating from one page to the other quick and efficient. The members’ forum is also very exciting! Membership cost is also very reasonable compared to others and offers the best value by far.

GoSailing

Good app if you want to join a club or an ASA certified organization. You may also find non-sailor profiles but not as easily. The lack of relevant and detailed information will be very time-consuming trying to connect to the right skipper or crew. Most opportunities are posted by sailing clubs and organizations affiliated with American Sailing Association.

OPO

Good if you want to find offshore opportunities only, most of them on the East Coast between the US and the Caribbean. Price is also higher than others. Do not count on this website to vest opportunities and boats, and be prepared to spend time checking emails and forwarding you sailing resume to skippers. If you are a skipper, you will probably receive way more resumes and requests than you need.

Railmeets

Very good if you only want to race. Most of the members are located in the Great lakes region. It is free and pretty easy to use but some basic functionalities are missing.

Crewbay

Pleasant design and features allow to easily navigate from one page to another. Most opportunities are outside North America and it can get expensive if you want to keep your profile active for a long time. Professional access (not tested by our team) seems to be very popular. Recommended if you want to sail in Europe or if you are a pro.

Crewseekers

This site is also pretty good but does not focus on North America. Very few opportunities outside Europe. A lot of opportunities are paying trips posted by the website partners.

Findacrew

Dated web design, but probably the largest boating network worldwide. Browsing member profiles is not easy and boat descriptions aren’t very detailed. It is the most expensive site and you pay in Australian dollars so the amount varies with the exchange rate, which can lead to bad surprises if the rate is not in the favor of the US or Canadian dollar.

 

May 24, 2023
Team Coboaters

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