Cruising on small craft
This article is a travel topic
This article is about travel by small craft, including both motor and sail powered vessels, where the vessel is owned or chartered by the travellers, and may be operated by the travellers. It does not include travel by large vessels, where the traveller is merely a paying passenger, and the operation and organisation is provided by the vessel's owners or operators; for that, see Cruise ships.
There are several categories of small craft which may be used for cruising, including motor vessels and sailing vessels, both of which may operate over large ranges, and may cross oceans or circumnavigate the globe during a voyage, and smaller vessels, which may be used for day trips, overnight trips and short coastal and inland voyages. These include human powered boats, such as canoes and kayaks.
The topic is not about whitewater canoeing and rafting, boat fishing, or racing of watercraft, though these are activities which may be included in the "Do" section below.
Chartering your own sailboat is an excellent way to explore the world's beautiful coastlines, islands, coves, bays and beaches. There are many charter companies who offer excellent sailing options. And even if you don't know how to sail, you can usually hire your own skipper and crew, too.
Open sailboat cruising
Kayak and Canoe cruising
The world is your oyster. At least those parts which have enough water to float your boat. Travelling is usually by sailing or motoring from one place to another, but in some cases vessels are transported by ship, road or rail to the cruising area of choice, where they are met by the crew. This allows transit across otherwise unsuitable terrain, like mountains and deserts, or over distances or through areas unsuitable for the specific vessel. In some cases folding canoes are even carried as baggage on aircraft, then used as a base for waterborne camping trips at the destination.
In some areas, small boats are a major part of the local transport system, especially in areas with many islands. For example, they are a common way to travel in Indonesia, the Philippines and among the South Pacific islands. In other areas, such as the Greek Islands, larger ferries are dominant in commercial transport, but there are small craft as well. Small craft may also be a means of travel within a city, for example on the canals of Venice. Houseboats are found on the canals of Europe and are a common place for tourists to stay in Srinagar.
Cruising on lakes, rivers and other inland waterways
See also Felucca cruise on the Nile.
There are a large number of training facilities throughout the world where you can learn the skills that are useful and necessary for cruising in small craft. These range from deckhand up to ocean navigation. The ability to cook a good meal at sea is highly valued in a crewperson, as is ability to get recalcitrant engines to work, and cheerfulness when woken up in the middle of the night to stand watch on deck in a storm. The first two can be learned at schools or by experience. The third is something you either have or do not, and can vary from day to day.
Learning the skills of operating a sailing vessel is in itself often a reason for travel, as these schools are frequently in areas where the conditions are pleasant for a vacation.
There are many opportunities for travel as a paid or unpaid crewmember on a cruising boat. These range from skipper down to deck hand, depending on the skills, qualifications and experience of the crewmember.
Work at destinations doing maintenance and repair work on other cruising boats frequently gets by under the radar of the local work permit requirements, providing the vessels worked on are foreign registry.
Avoid falling overboard, as it is often fatal if you are not picked up. A safety harness should be worn when there is a high risk, and a lifejacket can keep you afloat for long enough for the boat to pick you up if they know you have gone.
The most common health problem encountered by travellers cruising on small craft is seasickness.
There are hundreds of books on the subject, and large numbers of websites and internet discussion groups dedicated to every aspect of small craft cruising.