How to Volunteer and Sail Around the World For Free

These tips and resources will help you sail around the globe for free. Learn new skills and travel to exotic locations without spending any money!


A paradise island. Your yacht deck is flooded with sunlight. The most challenging decision for the day is whether to snorkel with mantas or try out the pink sand. It could be the romance… Looking out at Tahiti in the middle, you suddenly realize, “holy #%*&@,, I sailed from Mexico!” Or it could be the adventure… or bragging rights… but we’re willing to wager that the fact that sailing around the world for free while earning qualifications for a high-paid career doesn’t hurt either.

We are a married pair and spent the last year sailing luxury yachts between 35-50 feet. We sailed in that year from San Diego, CA, to Tahiti and visited 20 other South Pacific Islands. We didn’t pay a penny for any day on these ships.

We’ll tell you about how to sail around the globe and do volunteer work for free.

Joining a volunteer crew

We don’t know why there aren’t more people who have heard about volunteer crewing. The basic idea is that every year, thousands of yachts sail to the most beautiful destinations on earth. Imagine Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan in Asia, Tahiti or the Caribbean.

These aren’t the billionaire-owned mega-yachts that you might think of. These yachts are a tiny minority in the entire yachting community. The average yacht measures 35 to 50 feet in length and has a crew of two: the owners on a dream vacation. They are sailing around the world in order to fulfill a dream. But that dream usually hits a roadblock pretty quickly.

Your Volunteer Duties

What is your role, and what are you expected to do? It’s impossible to anchor a ship when it is a mile down and the bottom of the sea. Owners will need help unless they want to steer their boat 12 hours daily without sleeping.

These yachts are staffed by volunteers who drive the vessel and assist with its chores in exchange for a bed and a ride.

Would you be willing to steer for a few minutes a day if it meant you could explore tropical islands only 100 people visit each year? Is doing the dishes in exchange for learning the ukulele directly from the inventors of the instrument in their hometown a fair deal? This might be the right thing for you.

Working Towards a New Career

You will soon discover that if you consider the sea a new career, you must have “seatime” or working days at sea to qualify for any professional level. It’s a Catch-22 situation: You can’t have a job without any experience, and you can only get that experience if you volunteer. Yes, even time spent on a boat counts. What better way to earn a qualification, experience a new career, assist someone, and make memories that people can only dream about… for free?

There are organizations such as the Royal Yachting Association that offer certificates of competency. These require only practical sailing experience and a passing exam.

Get Started on Your Sailing Adventure

img alt=”Person on a boat at sea.” data-src=”/sites/default/files/styles/1014x/public/images/2021-07-27/sereja-ris-xs5mxdrurqg-unsplash.jpg?itok=H4cnNEY5″ src=”″ title=”Photo by Sereja Ris on Unsplash”/>

Many of these ways are online. Here are some popular websites to begin your search for a local crew.

  • Latitude 38 Crew List
  • Pacific Puddle Jump
  • CrewSeekers International
  • Workaway

You can also find a list in our blog, along with the steps we took to get started.

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