Our volunteers get involved in all aspects of running the organisation and volunteer sailing crew are needed all year round across both our vessels. Without volunteers, we simply would not be able to offer the activities we do to so many young people. Volunteer crew can help with a day sail locally, being part of the crew for a delivery sailing trip or even crew on some of the longer voyages. This means that there are opportunities for you to volunteer during the weekends or mid week on evenings, day trips or overnight.  Our voyages might take place anywhere in the UK, Ireland and overseas. In 2024 we are ideally looking for more volunteers who can crew on our youth residential voyages which range from 3 – 6 days, but if you don’t have this availability then you can still apply to be a volunteer on shorter voyages.

All you need is a commitment to help young people, reliability, and a dash of initiative!  In 2023, volunteers donated 9,350 hours of their time.

Whether you have sailing experience or not you need to meet some eligibility criteria to be able to be a volunteer crew. Do you have….?

  • A minimum of RYA Day Skipper (practical)  OR
  • at least 2 years of sailing experience and have a competent basic knowledge of sailing OR
  • have experience in outdoor adventure (preferably in the education sector), teaching or youth work or instructing in outdoor activities OR
  • been on one of our longer adventures of 3 days (a residential) or more and have been recommended by the Skipper to apply to become a volunteer

Volunteers of Challenge Wales who wish to be crew would have joined Challenge Wales as a paying guest on one of her voyages and this will be used as your qualifying volunteer assessment voyage. The voyage you join us on, can be any length duration depending on meeting the above criteria to become a volunteer.

Volunteers are then expected to commit to a minimum of 2 training days (1 must be boat based) and 1 sailing voyage (minimum of 1 day) within a 12 month period. As a new volunteer crew person, you’ll have a 6 month probation and during this time we’ll work with you on your personal development plan to ensure your volunteering experience is rewarding for you.

If you can’t join us as one of our volunteer crew within 12 months, and you wish to continue volunteering then, you will need to pay for another qualifying assessment voyage. But, you can always join our maintenance volunteer team. A flexible role that keeps you part of the Challenge Wales family, even if you are short of time.

What is a qualifying assessment voyage? The qualifying assessment voyage is a two-way process and enables the potential volunteer to meet the crew, talk to the Skipper and to get involved in all aspects of sailing.  Volunteer crew members need to be assessed to see if they have the right skills, initiative and can work well as a team. We are also looking for volunteer crew who have enthusiasm, motivation, commitment, maturity and are keen to learn in addition to sailing skills. Volunteers may also be young people who have previously sailed with us with a group but are now wanting to continue their sailing and stay involved with Challenge Wales.

If you have sailed with us within the last 3 months, then we may be able to take this voyage into account for your assessment, so you won’t need to sail again. This is on a case-by-case basis and depends on the feedback received by the Skipper and Mate. If you have sailed with us before and it is longer than 3 months then you will need to sail with us again so we can assess your skills and to create your volunteer training plan.


  • Complete  a Volunteer Form. Feel free to contact the office to discuss your application further or if you require an application form in Word.
  • Book yourself on a voyage as soon as possible and have your skills assessed
  • If successful, you will then need to book yourself onto a Challenge Wales induction session. If you have sailed with Challenge Wales within the last 3 months you may not need to undertake another qualifying trip – However, this is based on us being able to complete a volunteer assessment form based on your last voyage.
  • Liaise with Challenge Wales to co-ordinate your free Enhanced DBS background check and undertake free online safeguarding training
  • Book yourself onto a crew training session and at least one of our voyages that is in the sailing schedule (the Skipper will also  match your skills and experience to the trip)
  • Decide if you want to be a member of Challenge Wales

Volunteer crew members have different levels of sailing experience. We undertake frequent volunteer training days onboard to help you develop the right skills and techniques and learn how to do things ‘the Challenge Wales way’. Volunteering as crew allows you the opportunity to develop your personal and decision making skills, team working abilities, help young people achieve their goals and allows you to undertake milebuilding sailing trips.

We sail our vessels with a Skipper, a Mate, 2 experienced & competent crew and 1 or 2 trainees. All volunteers need to progress from a trainee to a competent crew person. Progressing from a trainee enables other trainee opportunities to open up and new volunteers to join us. To bring a new volunteer through the system costs around £55 and several hours of time from volunteers and our administrator. So before signing up to become a volunteer you need to think carefully about the commitment.

Volunteer crew pay a nominal charge of £10 per day when they sail on Challenge Wales to cover food and fuel costs while onboard. An optional membership scheme is available to volunteer crew which gives volunteers various discounts, particularly when sailing on young people’s trips.

Please note that all volunteer crew  will need an Enhanced DBS check which Challenge Wales will organise for you and undertake free safeguarding training.

You can read more about our commitment to volunteering by reading our Volunteering Policy