The perfect solution is to have a 'lover/wife/husband' who also likes sailing and long distance cruising or, at least, is prepared to put up with it for a while. Frequently they are very good at it or fast learners and the 'skipper' has then to accept that his partner is also at 'skipper' level - in some boats the partners take it in turns to be skipper for the day or week.
It is a fact of cruising life that most wives do not like long distance - long term - cruising.
One solution is for them to fly out and join you in the nicer places or that you sail for a while and then leave the boat and fly back. For this reason and for work reasons I have left my boats for up to 6 months in France, Spain, Turkey, Malta, Tunisia, Gibraltar, Canaries, Trinidad, Grenada, Florida, Chesapeake, New Zealand etc Never a problem except that long lay-ups in the tropics are not very boat friendly.
Failing perfection, for longer passages you need to find crew.
This, normally, is not difficult if you are in a place which is reasonably easily accessible to cheap or charter air flights
Friends and relatives are not always the best solution. They make wonderful visitors but the close confines of a sailing boat frequently puts pressure on even long standing friendship.
Even when you exchange telephone calls and emails with a potential crew it is always a gamble. Very difficult to know what people are really like till you live with them. It is always a bit of a gamble even if you meet up with them before they join you.
works very well indeed -
They are based on the Solent in the UK but find crews for boats all over the world as well as the UK and Europe.
They do not charge owners and are very efficient and well organised. I have used them many times and found the response excellent.
Because the crews seeking places in boats, have to pay Crewseekers a registration fee, they tend to be serious about wanting to join any boat they reply to. There are other 'crewing' web sites though out the world which you can find by trawling the net. They are all useful and worth putting your ad for crew on but do not seem to have the coverage that Crewseekers have. They are sometimes very useful in Asia and Australasian but in Europe, West Indies, USA there is no doubt that Crewseekers is by far the best.
The other method is local notice boards and Backpackers.
The deal I offer is the 'crew' pays their own transport to and from the boat - they share equally in all the running costs including fuel, harbour dues, visas, customs and immigration charges, food and drink. I pick up repair/maintained bills unless they have done something really thoughtless and broken it (Hardly ever happens). They supply any insurance, health, travel cover they feel appropriate - I provide no insurance at all. They must have a citizenship and passport that allows them free access to EU countries or the USA.
I run a purse which I ask the crew to take charge of. The money in the purse pays for food and all the other items. I do not profit out of the relationship except that fuel and harbour/marina dues cost me less.
The deal is that there is no deal. The crew can leave the boat at any time and in any port they want. I can ask them to leave the boat at any time and in any port I want.
The crew are getting an excellent deal for themselves. To have a berth in a charter yacht would cost hundreds a week and sailing tuition even more and still have to pay for food etc. If they are making long or ocean passages then they are doing something that is exclusive to quite a small proportion of the worlds population. They have all this for not much more than their keep and nothing for accommodation. Many skippers make charges above the share system I use but on the few occasions I have tried this it has not worked well for me. I like to feel I can ask the crew to leave without any compunction at all. I have indeed asked several to leave before they wanted to. Normally not their fault - probably mine but it is my boat and my home and my huge investment in time and money. A couple of times I have had crew leave when it was not convenient but it has never taken more than 48 hours to find another. (Madeira was an exception heading back to the Med - a relatively small island and expensive to get to) Ended up single handing to Gibraltar - 10 days!
There will always be the situation that the crews agenda and the owner/skippers agenda are not the same. Normally it is not a problem and a reasonable compromise can be found. The biggest problem is friends, acquaintances or crew who decide they want to sail with you for the summer or whatever and regard the time as a glorious cheap holiday. They want to be in certain ports so they can enjoy the holiday atmosphere. They go out and spend fairly large amounts of money on meals and clubs etc because they have this floating hotel room. They are there for the holiday not because they want to go sailing - cruising. They are always the hardest to get rid of. It is a real pleasure to have non sailing friends visit for a week or two. Delightful. It is the ones that want to stay for months on an extended cheap holiday that I have had a problem with.
I always used to try to find crew around my own age partly because I did not want to feel responsible for young peoples well being and safety.. The only problem I discovered with crew of the same age is that they are not good at taking orders and do not like roughing it a bit. I also feel somewhat obliged to play the host.
The great advantage of young crew is that they are easy with taking orders and fitting in with the rules of the boat. They are enthusiastic and learn quickly and do not arrive with pre-conceived ideas of how it should be done. Older crew frequently have done RYA courses and read all the cruising books and magazine articles. They think they know a lot about it. The know that there are certain ways of doing things because the sailing school said so. In a cruising boat there are lots of solutions to most problems but the best one is the one the skipper prefers. for example I like my halyards coiled in a simple, quick to release, way and I do not take kindly to any crew who wants to do fancy rope work with something I may have to work with by feel, on pitch dark night.
BACKBACKERS tend to make wonderful crew. These are usually well educated young people who are taking a year or two off before after or during university and have decided to travel independently to see the world. They are not poor. They all have sufficient financial resources to get themselves home and carry passports that will be acceptable in most countries with only a visitor visa. They are keen to explore the places you visit - do not mind cleaning the hull or doing maintained and are entertaining and enthusiastic.
I would rather sail with a young person keen to sail but with no experience at all than someone who has done an RYA course and a couple of races and thinks they know it all. Sailing is easy learn if you are out there doing it all day every day.
It stopped being rocket science since GPS and weather forecasting became commonplace.