Sign Up Online As Sailboat Racing or Cruising Crew - Free

Sign Up Online As Sailboat Racing or Cruising Crew - Free

This is a “free,” no cost to you way to sail. Some have jumped right from the fire into the frying pan, not ever having sailed before and have found a racing or cruising boat who will teach them to sail.  In fact, a lot have started that way in sailing.  There are others that have sailed in the past, jobs, family, or burn-out occurred, and they too are looking for a way back into racing or cruising.

But how can you find boats to sail on?  There are a number of online crew lists.  It is important to put up your skills honestly, so skippers can select what they are looking for.  Many prefer novices, as each have their own style and would rather not have to break habits others may have taught you previously and shorten the amount of time to get you a part of their team.

Most boats need at least one crew, some up to fifteen crew, but most boats need crew in the five to six range for an outing.  Sailing nearly every weekend during the summer, is a juggle to have a full crew each day, as crew have busy lives and crew are traded out regularly.

Some yacht clubs have crew lists to help their member boat owners find crew.  There’s no charge, you are welcome to go to the boat you signed up for, there are no secret handshakes or entry fees, just show up when called.  These online crew lists commonly are for racers or cruising boats:


Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation (click the region you live in)
LMSRF Chicago Race Schedule
With 850 registered users, this is the largest audience for you to find a ride.


Windjammers Sailing Club, Suamico

Racine Yacht Club, Racine

Kenosha Yacht Club, Kenosha

Lake Michigan Sailing Club, Kenosha & Racine (small fee)


Lake Michigan Sailing Club, Winthrop Harbor and Waukegan (small fee)

Winthrop Harbor Yacht Club, Winthrop Harbor

Waukegan Yacht Club, Waukegan

Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club, Montrose Harbor, Chicago

Chicago Yacht Club, Monroe & Belmont Harbors, Chicago

Columbia Yacht Club, Monroe Harbor, Chicago

Catalina Fleet #21, All Chicago Harbors

Midwest Open Racing Fleet, All Chicago Harbors


Bayshore Yacht Club, Holland


For the jumbo racing events that draw boats from around Lake Michigan or from other parts of the country or world, they set up a special sign-up website for the event looking for crew (I’d recommend using the Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation above also, to maximize your chances of being picked up):

Columbia Yacht Club, Chicago, IL
Course Racing
Goose Island Colors Regatta
June 4 – 5, 2016

Chicago Yacht Club, Chicago, IL
Course Racing + Long Distance Race
Helly Hansen National Offshore One-Design (NOOD)
June 17 – 19, 2016

South Shore Yacht Club, Milwaukee, WI
Milwaukee, WI to St. Joseph, MI 84 Miles Overnight
Queen’s Cup
July 1, 2016

Chicago Yacht Club, Chicago, IL
Chicago, IL to Mackinac Island, MI 333 Miles non-stop, commonly 2 overnights
Chicago to Mackinac Race
Starts On Both July 22 & 23, 2016

Racine Yacht Club, Racine, WI
Racine, WI to Menominee, MI 189 Miles, commonly 1 overnight
Hook Race
July 23, 2016

Chicago Yacht Club, Chicago, IL
Course Racing + Long Distance Race
Verve Cup – Offshore
August 12 – 14, 2016

Chicago Yacht Club, Chicago, IL
Verve Cup – Inshore
August 26 – 28, 2016

What would you need to bring along on your first outing?  Sailing shoes, preferably white soled that don’t leave scuffs, a sweater, fleece or jacket, rain gear (for novices, the most inexpensive raingear around can be found on Motorcycle gear websites), sailing gloves.  Some boats provide life jackets while others ask you to bring your own (to find one that works for you, consider a Type I that provides the greatest amount of lift in the water and does the best to keep your head out of the water.  Inflatable Life Jackets have become the rage, but never wear one unless you are confident in the water, hat, sunglasses (and a string to hold them on), and sun lotion – all in a small cloth duffle bag.  Do this right, and you’ll spend around $200 – $250.  It doesn’t ever hurt to show up with a 6-pack (never bottles or glass) as a gift.  Check to see how lunches are done, some boats have everyone brings their own, others are provided by the skipper and others have the crew take turns.  Sailboat racing and cruising is just for fun.  There are thousands on Lake Michigan who crew, and more crew are needed all of the time.  If you choose to stay local, all your additional costs are to get back and forth to the harbor from home.  If you choose to travel to “away events,” there are events all around Lake Michigan throughout the summer, and your gas and hotel costs will add up (unless you sleep onboard the boat in a bunk, which many do).

The cost to get on any boat is $0, other than the personal gear you buy, along with travel expenses to and fro, you’ll be quite busy for well under $1,000 a year.  Again, I have busted the myth that sailing is exclusive and expensive.  Try any of the entry points above.

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