Barcastop-mania, everything you need to know to board for free

barcastopThe release of another fine book telling the story of a “barcastopper” around the world, Erica Giopp(A Year in Barcastop) has confirmed this for us: it is Barcastop-mania.

How has the world of “boat rides” changed and where to look for them? First of all, it is good to remember that those seeking boarding in exchange for their services on board should keep in mind that these need not necessarily be related to sailing: indeed, it is easier to have one’s application for barcastop accepted as a good cook, electrician, and computer expert than as a skipper (who are usually people trusted by the shipowner).

schermata-2016-10-26-a-12-11-54So be careful to highlight your skills well in the ads you place on the Internet or on the crowded bulletin boards in the starting ports of the big offshore regattas and rallies, which are a rallying point for globetrotting sailors. Remember also that it is not necessary to take a sabbatical. With a little resourcefulness, one can embark and tour the Mediterranean, Caribbean islands or Africa in a few weeks, finding short-haul passages.

schermata-2016-10-26-a-12-25-28SEARCH/OFFER BOARDING SITES
If you are not interested in regattas, you will have to start moving around the Internet early (unless, lucky you, you can do so through direct acquaintances). There are many sites which provide a bulletin board space where you can read and leave ads seeking/off boarding, for transfers or cruise routes: in Italy we recommend (both for “free” and paid boardings), internationally,, In this case, make no plans: your schedule is sure to suffer delays, shifts and unforeseen events. This is the beauty of navigating slowly. If you have timing needs, then you will be better off turning to the “market” offered by the big offshore dates

The event most heavily traveled by bargain hikers is certainly the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), an approximately 3-week Atlantic crossing from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean(, this year departing Nov. 24. If you want to find a ride, in addition to posting the ad on the site in the search/off boarding section you will want to arrive in Las Palmas at least a week before the start. Interesting, for those wishing to return to Europe instead, is the ARC Europe, a crossing from Tortola (BVI) or Portsmouth (Virginia, USA) to Lagos (Portugal) or Plymouth (UK) of about a month’s duration, but in this case you will have to wait until 2020 because the 2019 edition has just started(

schermata-2016-10-26-a-12-11-43If you love Greece you can also find berths at theAegean Rally, classic Aegean Sea tour of about 10 days with stops at various islands in mid-July (, if, on the other hand, you are attracted to Tunisia, be sure to propose yourself at the Carthago Dilecta Est (Fiumicino to Lampedusa and then to Tunisia, in ten days. Departure early August, Another interesting Mediterranean rendezvous is the Bailli de Suffren, an approximately 15-day vintage boat crossing from St. Tropez to Malta with a stop in Sardinia (late June,

alt_sail-indonesia-rally1FOR THOSE WHO HAVE TIME…
However, for those who have the opportunity to take a sabbatical, we point out four dates where you can find a very, very long passage: Sail Indonesia (approximately three-month rally from Darwin, Australia to Indonesia, departing in late July 2019,; the 2020 Vanuatu & New Caledonia Rally. (Pacific stage rally starting in Vanuatu and finishing in New Caledonia, about two months long, between June and July 2020,; World ARC (Around the world tour starting from Saint Lucia, lasting about one year and three months, starting in January 2020,


1- In order to travel by barcastop, it is not necessary to take a whole year off. Boardings of even a few days can be found.

2- You don’t have to be an Olympic champion or have crossed the Gulf of Lion solo to find passage aboard a sailboat. If a skipper decides to take someone on board, he or she does so to have an extra hand in moorings, boat care, and watch duty.

3- To find boarding there are two solutions:
– Go directly to the port located along the travelers’ route. Once you arrive in your chosen city, go to the marina and ask for information directly at the offices. There are often bulletin boards reserved for boarding announcements as well.
– seek passage through trade magazine ads or Internet sites.

4- If you are already on a voyage, the most effective method of finding boarding, however, is to make friends with the crews of other boats on the voyage. At roadstead stops, marinas, and bars in the small towns you visit, you will meet many skippers.

5- The chance of finding a boarding on the boat you are interested in will depend on the impression you make on the captain and the rest of the crew. Therefore:
– prove yourself available
– State your experience (long crossings, driver’s license, whether you can cook, foreign languages, etc.).

6- Choose your commander well.
He is the one who will make all decisions on board, on stops and stops, on safety. Inquire therefore about:
– his actual sea experience
– on the ownership of the boat

7- Thoroughly check the boat on which you will board.
Above all, check that all safety equipment is in place and that there is an efficient autopilot.

8- Pack your bartender bag with the bare essentials. Get used to the idea of carrying:
– for a summer cruise a pair of shoes, a bathing suit, two or three T-shirts, a waterproof jacket
– For a winter cruise waxed coat, boots, sweater, sweatshirt, heavy pants, socks, scarf, hat, gloves.

9- Establish with the skipper the portions of onboard expenses you will incur. Normally there are three possibilities:
– Payment of a daily fee based on overhead (galley, fuel, customs, marina, etc.) The amount can vary from about 10 to 20 euros.
– Participation in travel expenses. Ditto as above, but eliminating expenses related to boat maintenance and repairs
– contribution to living expenses. These are just extra expenses the captain has to pay for you to be on board, such as galley and entry fees to places (such as nature parks) where you pay according to the number of people on board.

10- If you are a smoker, ask if smoking is tolerated on board. Never throw butts into the sea.



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