We did pick up another girl for the last third of the trip. July stayed on Furthur for most of the winter seeking employment. She eventually found another boat, a FAC sailor I knew, and they are now in love and cruising the world. I wish them both great happiness. July did come to visit us in Komodo for a couple of weeks, it was great to have her aboard again.
Along with Sam, one of many Brits, we have had crew from an impressive list of new countries, the list is now over twenty countries spanning the globe. As a child of the Cold War, I am especially moved by the number of girls from post Iron Curtain countries. I have sung Blowing in the Wind with a Russian, eaten ice-cream with an East German, and danced with an Estonian, things unthinkable in my youth. Most of these girls were born after the curtain fell but keep the legacy by tales of parents and grandparents.
So what have I learned? What works? By far my best experiences have been with young foreign girls. Their eagerness to learn, love of life and appreciation for the chance to be on the boat is profound. There is nothing so fun and enjoyable as a boat load of happy excited girls bonding and seeking adventure. This year for several short trips we have had up to six girls on the boat at once, amazingly this has been the best of times. Although all I need is one crew, it is critical to have more than on girl on the boat at a time, they need the company and so do I.
Like other years we have had some turn over in crew, some planned some not. Crew have left that I was sad to see go, and some I was glad. I am happy to say again this year, there have been no really bad experiences, no injuries, no theft, no forced departures. This is remarkable with the number of people I have had on the boat.
The formula for picking the right crew is a not science, it is black art. I have established some ground rules and when I stick to them all works great, when I deviate things often do not go as well. Also I rely on my instinct, it rarely fails me if I listen.
When looking at profiles of potential crew use certain criteria. I also rely on the pictures, a big smile always impresses me, a picture of a bunch of drunk people in a bar does not. I am looking for people who want to experience the life style not just seeking a mode of transportation. I have found often the intrepid traveler who has been solo traveling for a while and covering many countries has a hard time settling to our slow pace and lack of independence. Sadly committing to a crew time is hard for them and they often leave suddenly, causing a hardship on the boat and crew.
The other issue for many is the lack of personal space and privacy on a boat. There is no easy answer for this. One can find a place and time to be alone but never far from others. Furthur does provide some tidy corners to hide in if one is flexible. But I now tell potential crew, “you know you will never be more than three meters from another person?”
Also sited by those not happy on the boat is the lack of independence. Shore side access, long passages and an unpredictable schedule cause those used to total independence angst. Independent travelers have the freedom to wake up every day and decide what is the best thing just for them that day and do it. Crew simply do not have that freedom.
Personalities play a big role and simply impossible to predict how. So some leave just because we do not get along. I have a strong personality no doubt but I am finally in a time of my life where I do not have to “win” nor do I want to enter the game. As most of my crew are accomplished, independent strong women and at an age where “winning” is important, there can be clashes.
As with all human relationships, communication is key. I send all potential crew members a seven page letter outlining the rules, expectations and life on Furthur. We usually exchange emails for while before they crew arrive. If at all possible I try to get new crew on the boat for a “test sail” before we leave for a long passage.
So the formula for a stellar crew member? strong enough to let go, curious enough to want to learn at every opportunity, happy enough to find joy in all things big and small, Adventurous enough to go where the boat goes, fun loving enough to find fun at every chance and interesting enough to talk all night under the stars. Being proactive is essential, those who see what needs doing and do it cheerfully find more joy than those who only do what is asked.