I would like to go from Europe to Boston by boat coming June. I am willing to work on the boat in exchange for travelling for a reduced or gratis fee, although I have no experiences working on ships. I have a German passport.

Can anyone based on his own experiences advise me how to proceed with concretizing my plan?

  • Which arrangements to take?
  • Which companies, organisations to contact?
  • Which Visa requirements to take into account
  • 3
    Do you have any experience working on ships? Commented May 8, 2016 at 16:45
  • 1
    Depends upon the class of boat. In the merchant class there are union and licensing requirements, in the private class there are agencies that connect boat owners to navigators, cooks, valets and the like. Also depends upon the season, in the summer there's a lot more private craft making the Canada to Greenland outing. In the autumn/winter there's more opportunities to help ferry a private boat.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 17:08
  • Dear all, thank you very much for your comments! I have edited my question. Please see the edits.
    – orschiro
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 18:22
  • 5
    Keep in mind that if you are traveling on a VWP-eligible passport, you will not be able to enter the US on the VWP if you arrive on a private vessel, or one owned by a company that isn't an "approved carrier" (that is, probably most freight lines). In these cases, you'd need a visa.
    – phoog
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 18:34
  • the idea of "working your way on a ship" just isn't possible any more. (For like - 40? years?) cargo, container ship are trillion dollar businesses with extensive rules, regulations - you might as well say you want to "help out in the flight deck of an airliner - get a cheap fare?!!!?" regarding being the crew on a rich person's pleasure yacht, which is crossing the atlantic. You can do this BUT ....... there are a huge number of highly trained experienced yacht crew who do this. Why would anyone use a beginner? Those "days are gone" you know?
    – Fattie
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


So I've answered a similar question somewhere on here before, but it was for freighters, so arguably different. Anyway, when I was looking into this a few years ago, I based my search on real travel a friend of mine did. She cycled from London to Christchurch, NZ by bike, and had to take boats where water got in the way.

She had zero experience, but even if you have some experience, it increases the possibilities for you - on FindACrew. This is for sometimes just company for the sailing parties, or to help with expenses, or to actually work on board, depending on your level.

She also found going down to the marinas and just asking around also gave her quite a few leads, as there's usually more knowledge there about which boats need people.

  • 2
    What about the visa requirements? I know you need a visa if you're crew, but not sure if you'd be classed as crew in this case.
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 7:42
  • @Berwyn Good question. By default, everybody needs a visa but you could possibly enter on a B1/B2 visa, not necessarily a C1/D visa (that's how it works on big transatlantic freighters, which is how I learned about this) so it makes a difference. No idea how it works for private yachts.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 8:54
  • @Berwyn depends on the skipper, their requirements and what work you are or aren't doing. It's international waters. You'd need a visa for the US of course.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Jun 5, 2016 at 10:40

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