My Crew Travel : Living the Delivery Life
Every wondered about the crew that deliver yachts around the world?.
Living the delivery life
When the opportunity arose to join some recent yacht deliveries I jumped at the chance for a new adventure. Having grown up around boats in a sailing family and competing in racing on Sydney Harbour and up and down the Australian coast most of my life, I saw it as a chance to build on my experience.
Over the last year, I have had the privilege of visiting ten countries, many of them more than once, taken over 40 PCR tests, spent plenty of time in quarantine facilities and airline lounges, rolled out my yoga mat in some pretty exotic places and swum laps in swimming pools of all shapes and sizes. I have covered 20,000 nautical miles on yachts from 38 to 100 feet long, both catamarans and monohulls, and it has been amazing.
During my travels, I also used the time to complete my Certificate II in Maritime Operations (Coxswain) studies and keep my First Aid and Safety at Sea qualifications up to date.
The recent trip from Hobart – Sydney – Hamilton Island – Rabaul – Palau – Subic Bay on the 'Scallywag 100' was completed with six crew over a period of five weeks. Plenty of time to get to know each other and the yacht’s systems. Steering a performance race boat in 35 knots of breeze is something I would not have done if I hadn’t joined the delivery.
'Scallywag 100' entering Sydney Harbour
It was my first-time visiting PNG and Micronesia so exploring these destinations on our short stopovers was exciting. Most of our time is taken up sourcing jerry cans, fuel, spare parts, and food so a lot of jumping into cars with drivers showing images saved on my phone and asking them to take me to a store where I can buy that item is standard procedure. We don’t drink alcohol on deliveries so a few cold beers and meals that someone else has prepared when we stop is always appreciated.
So - what is involved? What is delivery life really like?
You need to be very open minded and flexible in your outlook to enjoy deliveries. Things don’t run to a schedule and there is a lot of ‘creative problem solving’ required. You are building relationships with yacht owners, crew, and trusted suppliers around the world. Managing expectations for these people is important and takes time as they are entrusting you with one of their most valuable assets.
My role as the Logistics Manager for each trip begins with research on the destinations, we will be collecting the yacht from, and those we plan to stop at along the way, with regards to entry requirements, visas (Crew or Seafarer), COVID testing and vaccination rules. These are constantly being amended by various authorities so it’s a moving feast of regulations to keep up to date.
When we have new crew joining us, I collate all the paperwork required and manage the passports for Border Force, Customs, Immigration, and port control. We need authority letters from owners, copies of registration, entry and exit papers and yacht insurance.
I look after the flight, accommodation, vehicle, and marina bookings as we move through various countries. Meticulous record-keeping and tracking all expenses is ongoing.
Once we arrive on the yacht, we conduct a full inspection and ensure it is ready to undertake the passage ahead. This includes safety gear, engine servicing and spare parts, test sail, calculating fuel and water consumption and requirements, first aid needs and navigation charts.
It is important not to have a fixed date in mind for departure or arrival – we can only leave when every aspect of the yacht is ready.
I have several checklists to work through that are refined each time we leave. Labelling the location of all the important items on the yacht and learning the various systems like water-maker and generator are key.
Provisioning is important to keep everyone happy and I use a spreadsheet so estimate amounts for each item based on time to next port. We eat a mix of fresh and canned food depending on the esky/fridge/freezer on the boat and what methods of cooking we have – on the racing yachts this is often super basic – a butane cooker on the floor. It’s important not to rely on only one source of power – if there is an issue with an inverter, microwaves and induction cooktops quickly become useless. Modern yachts need a good understanding of electrics/power to keep everything running.
Once we have cleared out and are on the water, we move into watches and settle into life at sea. Watches run 24 hours a day - either three hours on/three hours off is we are two-handed or two hours on/four hours off if fully crewed. Decisions are discussed and made as a team. Keeping a vigilant lookout is important – many vessels don’t use AIS and fishing nets are a constant through Asia. Fishing platforms, oil rigs, squid boats, and reefs are other distractions.
I enjoy the navigation and take responsibility for radio communications and our courtesy and quarantine flags along the way.
It’s important to self-manage your sleep, water, meals to keep yourself in great condition. Using the time off for reading, podcasts and learning is great – we generally do not have internet when offshore. Mental fitness is just as key as physical.
Taking in nature and wildlife is beautiful – until you have seen stars 360 degrees around you down to the waterline you haven’t lived! Jumping overboard as we crossed the equator, watching dolphins swimming in phosphorescence, seeing huge whale sharks, meeting new people, understanding maritime history, and learning about different cultures have all been unrivalled experiences for me.
I take a lot of photos and make notes in my phone when travelling and enjoy sharing my trips with family and friends when I’m back in range. I plan to stick with the delivery life for as long as I enjoy it.
Simone Hill is the owner of My Crew Travel, specialising in co-ordinating the logistics for race yachts travelling to regattas and rallies. More recently she has added yacht deliveries to this list. Her experience as an event and project manager have proven invaluable.
Simone Hill at the helm of 'Scallywag 100'.