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Conveyances, is it for me?

By Robert Corbeil, AKA Captain Jack
This article aims to give you a good overview of what to expect when you participate in a delivery. We will establish a list of "pluses" and "minuses",  give an idea of the costs involved and outline the roles of each. We will also identify some qualities of being a good captain. At the end of this article, we hope that you will be able to have a better understanding of what the experience of a ferry ride means, allowing you to objectively assess the situation and thus be able to make an informed decision. before embarking on this adventure.


Several sailors or neophytes toy with the idea of acquiring a sailboat in order to sail around the world, or even to sail in the tropics, near paradisiacal beaches and thus discover the richness of the islands, the local culture and the customs of the islanders. Others would simply like to go away for a week or two in a small group in order to sail and explore Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, etc., go snorkeling, sunbathe on the beautiful beaches or for the more active, go for a hike or visit certain historic sites.


The delivery, for its part, consists of bringing a boat from point A to point B. Some deliveries are of short duration (3 to 5 days), such as when a sailboat is brought from Tadoussac to Sorel, from Toronto to Cornwall or even from Quebec to Montreal. Other convoys are much longer (20 to 30 days).  For example, conveying a sailboat from Plattsburgh to the Bahamas, from Puerto Vallarta to Vancouver or even making a transatlantic crossing between the Bahamas and France. It is therefore another dynamic, as you will have understood.  


So let’s start with an analysis of the “pluses”  :

MORE - Top 10

  1. A unique life on board experience . Live aboard a sailboat with other crew members, see breathtaking landscapes, discover new territories, participate in beautiful discussions, observe sunsets, moonrises, share moments of laughter , find out who the other crew members are, make friends, sail, have time for yourself and experience moments of great happiness. That's a nice portrait, right?

  2. The love of wide open spaces. The city, the traffic, the queues, the horns, the stress... versus the sea as far as the eye can see, the great lakes, the starry skies... the choice is simple. For some it is not a choice but a need! How good it is for the soul to contemplate the sea . You will experience this feeling of happiness and feel that you are one with nature.

  3. The marine CV. Yes, it's also a way to add Nautical Miles to your marine CV . Lots of miles! The captain will distinguish between daytime hours and nighttime hours. He will be able to complete your FVQ sailing logbook and sign it. Do not forget it!

  4. Travel inexpensively . Normally, the Captain is remunerated for the ferrying. A contract between him and the owner is established. Crew members must pay an amount that varies between $500 and $800 depending on the duration of the navigation, which comes to about $20/day. The second does not have to pay these costs. You will also have to pay the costs to get to the starting point and for the return. These costs therefore depend on where you live and where the departure takes place. Finally, the crew and mate will have to cover the costs for food for them and the captain. We are talking about a budget of approximately $20 to $30 per person/day. It is strongly recommended that everyone take out travel insurance.

  5. Living in the moment. When you are at the helm, you can only be in the present moment ! All problems disappear. You will also have moments to collect yourself, reflect, moments for yourself.  

  6. A moment of renewal . Some come to escape from their reality, others live this adventure like a “Compostelle” on the water. It's time to do some introspection and grow from this experience. We can normally share without fear with the other team members What is said on the sailboat stays on the sailboat. ☺

  7. Beyond its limits. You will have several opportunities, along the trip, to contribute in your own way to the quality of life, to repairs... and you will be surprised at your contribution. Sometimes you will find it difficult, but in the end you will come out grown and happy to have exceeded your limits .  

  8. The heat of the sun. In hot regions… no need to draw a picture… often associated with beautiful sandy beaches and palm trees. In regions like the North Pacific or during transatlantic races, the sun is a source of energy (for batteries) and vitamin D. This is an undeniable plus.

  9. Sailing by motor. In some cases, motor navigation is necessary. Often it is to get to a given point more quickly. Normally this means less gite. For cooking, it's fine. The purr of the engine can be comforting if you're at 1800 rpm or less.

  10. Navigate at night. The light pollution of our cities means that we can barely see a few stars. But at sea, everything takes a different turn.  See thousands of stars and constellations : Orion, Pegasus, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Hercules, Scorpio, etc. Not to mention shooting stars… not to be confused with satellites which have a constant speed.

Cons - Top 10

  1. Seasickness. You may get seasick . The problem is that when (especially for long deliveries) you find yourself quite far from the coast, a return to land can mean the end of the trip for you. You will then have to manage to get home on your own. The crew will therefore have to organize with one crew member less! It is therefore wise to bring your medication for seasickness. The captain will give you some tips.

  2. You have to manage the 5 F. 1) Hunger 2) Fatigue 3) Cold 4) Jitters 5) Fuel (smell). You need to eat regularly and avoid spicy food, get plenty of rest, dress for the weather and have a change of clothes, manage the weather well and avoid smelling gasoline as much as possible.  

  3. Sail at night. Most deliveries involve night navigation. Here is an example of a shift for 3 team members. You will therefore sleep in blocks of 4 hours . This can become tedious and it would be frowned upon to pass your turn,  unless you have a good reason. Fortunately, during the day you can take a nap and regain energy.:

    1. Crewman 1: 2000 to 2200

    2. Crewman 2: 2200 to 2400

    3. Crewman 3: 2400 to 0200

    4. Crew 1: 0200 to 0400

    5. Crew 2: 0400 to 0600

    6. Crew 3: 0600 to 0800  

  4. Sleep on board. You think you can sleep a good 8 hours straight… you dream in color. Think more in 4 hour blocks. If you have the choice, always take an aft cabin, especially if you are sailing upwind. If so, the sailboat will ride up the waves and slam back down! You will levitate for 1-2 seconds before falling back onto the bed. It's not very pleasant . Usually the square is reserved for the Captain. This gives him quick access to commands when needed.  

  5. Participation in meals. You will have to participate in the on-board cash register and the preparation of meals . There is usually no designated chef and everyone will have to  take turns preparing meals.

  6. Difficulties concentrating. Reading or any other task that requires a great level of detail could be difficult to achieve especially if you are working in the cabin. It is possible, but be aware that many people feel nauseous when they are in the cabin.  

  7. Limited internet access. We had to talk about it. Internet access may be limited by location or completely absent in the case of transatlantic. You normally find network if you go along the coast… there will be network except that you should not expect to be in 5G at all times. Cell phone addict… you risk being in withdrawal!

  8. Lots of engine. The captain must normally respect a delivery schedule. So we have to expect a lot of engine power, especially if the wind isn't picking up, if a depression hits us or if we're behind schedule!  

  9. Sailing maneuvers are limited . Maneuvers are normally limited to maneuvers necessary for the route to be followed. As the sailboat belongs to the owner, it is not possible to practice docking, jibing or recovering a man overboard. The captain, since he is responsible for the safety of the crew and the sailboat, will be responsible for the maneuvers dock or other urgent manoeuvres.  

  10. The weather and flexibility in the schedule. The sun might not be out. It is necessary to anticipate that there may be rain and bad weather. Depressions are also to be anticipated which sometimes means that we will have to shelter in a port for a few days. You should be prepared to add a few days to your schedule.

The roles of each:

  • The Captain ensures the safety of the crew and the sailboat. He updates the logbook. He defines the routes to follow and makes sure to give clear instructions to the team members;

  • The second works in collaboration with the Captain. He is a full-fledged crew member and responds to the Captain's orders;

  • The crew carry out the Captain's orders, do the dishes, cook and take part in maneuvers.


A good Captain:  

  • Has experience;

  • Is calm;

  • Surrounds himself with team members who have complementary skills (Ex. motor, electricity, cooking, etc.);

  • Gives clear and realistic instructions;

  • Remains available to respond to any request regardless of the time of day or night;

  • Plan your route well. He must have up-to-date maps and a good tracking system (Ex: Navionics);

  • Follows the weather closely and knows when to return to port to avoid major depressions. He plans ports of refuge;

  • Has a communication system to be able to communicate (weather or emergency) at all times (ex: Iridium);

  • Listens to team members;

  • Manages the crew well and makes sure everyone is part of the team and feels their best.

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Captain Jack

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