Looking for
a new adventure?

Join the crew of Lady Washington and
Hawaiian Chieftain by signing up for our
renowned sail training program
Two Weeks Before the Mast (TWBM)!

two weeks before the mast

Our volunteer sail training program Two Weeks Before the Mast (TWBM) is a 14-day crash course on life aboard a working tall ship. You will live, work, and sleep on the vessel as a member of the crew –sailing, and learning new skills each day. TWBM has served hundreds of people over the years, from teenagers to retirees. Many novice sailors who’ve participated in TWBM have gone on to become licensed Captains and Mates. Some join our crew to get up close and personal with history, to travel, or create lifelong friendships. Others join to start or grow their career as professional mariners. TWBM offers all this and more. Read below to start your adventure!

The Experience

As a TWBM Volunteer, you will be responsible for all shipboard duties expected of our long-term volunteers and paid sailors. You can expect daily chores and maintenance along with assisting guests and educating students. The work is long and tiring, but also highly rewarding.

Once you step aboard, you have responsibilities to your shipmates. You should be prepared to take initiative and work hard every day. This may be your vacation, but people are counting on you to be a productive member of the crew. This is not an ideal program for someone seeking quiet relaxation or photo ops.

Is TWBM too much of a commitment for you right now? Check out Passages for short term stays aboard our vessels.

Program Phases

Phase One: Recreational Marlinspike course

The Recreational Marlinspike course is an online program for the recreational mariner to learn the basics of tall ship sailing. Knowledge of the content covered in this course is required to join the crew of Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain. First time tall ship sailors must complete the Recreational Marlinspike course before coming aboard to ensure a consistent baseline knowledge for all crew.

Participants log in to the online learning platform, Eliademy, to complete the distance learning content and the Marlinspike Module within one week. On Eliademy, participants will find the resources they need to make their time on the vessel as successful as possible. They will learn the basics of the maritime industry such as marlinspike seamanship, docking, how to handle shipboard emergencies, sail theory, navigation, and watchstanding. More information about this course will be sent upon acceptance.

Phase Two: Two Weeks Before the Mast

Once the online content is complete, participants come aboard for TWBM to live and work as a volunteer crew member for 14 days. While onboard, volunteer crew solidify theoretical skills they began building in the online content. They will go sailing, help maintain the vessel, take part in daily shipboard tasks, and help run the education and public programming.

How to Join

Apply. Interested TWBM Volunteers must download the program Application and send their completed Application as an email attachment to volunteer@historicalseaport.org with the subject line “TWBM”. Applicants will be screened, contacted, and offered available dates to join the crew of Lady Washington or Hawaiian Chieftain (please allow 3 – 5 days for processing).

Practice. After payment has been received, interested volunteers will receive an invitation to the Recreational Marlinspike course, offered through The Seafarer Collective. This self-paced online course provides the prerequisite knowledge to prepare you for serving as a member of the tall ship crew.

Prepare. After completing the Recreational Marlinspike course, you will be contacted by GHHS staff again to help guide you through your upcoming stay on your assigned vessel. Click the buttons below to download some helpful information before coming aboard.


Important Details

  • TWBM is available to people aged 16+. Minors will require parent/legal guardian permission.
  • All GHHS Crew must be in good physical health in order to perform the duties of the job. Please let us know in advance of any accommodations you may require.
  • All TWBM Volunteers are subject to a background check.
  • Preferred vessel and dates are not guaranteed. All port schedules are subject to change.


The Recreational Marlinspike online training course is $799.00. There is no cost to join the tall ship crew as a Two Weeks Before the Mast volunteer, or to return as volunteer crew after successfully completing the TWBM sail training program. All meals aboard are included; volunteers are responsible for their own transportation and gear.

Are you looking to join Lady Washington or Hawaiian Chieftain as paid crew? Please visit our Jobs page for current needs; not all positions require previous tall ship experience.


Give us a call at 360-532-8611 if you would like more information or assistance. If you’re ready to book, send your completed TWBM Application to volunteer@historicalseaport.org with the subject line “TWBM”.