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Getting Started

Los Angeles Maritime Institute is an extraordinary place. The opportunities we provide for volunteers are nearly endless.

Never sailed before? No problem. We’ll teach you.

Have a ton of sailing experience? Great! Come add to it and put your skills to the test in a very different environment.

Enjoy working with kids? Excellent. You’ll thrive with us.

Convinced kids are not your calling? Give us a chance. We’ll show you how satisfying putting others first can be.

Think sailing might not be for you? Our at-sea operations require a lot of dockside support, and we always need help with them. There is constant demand in the following areas:

  • General boat maintenance – sanding, oiling, painting, cleaning the vessels
  • Canvas/sail repair
  • Carpentry
  • Marine Diesel maintenance
  • Electrical systems maintenance
  • Plumbing
  • Fundraising
  • Grant writing
  • Office projects
  • Web design
  • Food preparation
  • Retail/sales

…and much more! If you have the knowledge or desire to learn, we have a place for you.

The bottom line is – the only thing necessary to succeed and have a truly rewarding experience with us is time and a willing attitude.

Ready to Volunteer?

You’ll need to attend an orientation first.  Orientations are typically held on the third Saturday of each month at 10:00am.  Please check our calendar to confirm and email our Volunteer Coordinator to RSVP at VolunteerCoordinator@lamitopsail.org.

For directions, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.

You can fill out the necessary forms at the orientation or you can fill them out in advance and bring with you.  The forms are available on our website, click here to download.

Steps to volunteering and getting your official crew shirt:

  1. Attend an orientation meeting.
  2. Sign up for a sail (check our sailing calendar for availability) or sign up to help with maintenance.
  3. Be finger printed for a background check at Safe & Secure located at 4172 Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance, south side of street between Hawthorne and Anza.  We ask for a one-time $25 donation to cover the cost.  (Please confirm your finger printing with our office before going to Safe & Secure.  Call 310-833-6055 and ask for Marann or Anita.)
  4. Once you have accumulated 40 volunteer hours, you’ll receive your first official crew shirt.  Contact Marann to get your shirt.

What is appropriate attire when working with kids or the public?

  • Crew shirts are worn for all day sails, the first day of a voyage, and any time the vessel enters or leaves a port.
  • Khaki, tan, or navy blue pants or shorts are preferred.  Jeans are ok, too.  Dirty, soiled, torn clothing is fine for maintenance days, but not for working with students.  Same goes for short shorts and tank tops or camisoles.
  • Bathing suits are encouraged for voyages, but please be conscious of how revealing they are.
  • Please keep any tattoos covered.

Crew Training Program

When it comes to sailing, our training program can take you from standing on the dock, without ever having stepped aboard a sailing vessel, to a captain’s license… if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

Our “Sail Training Logbook” is your guide to a solid foundation and will start you on a rewarding journey into the maritime world. Compiled by internationally renowned sail training expert, Captain Martyn Clark, the Logbook directs you through three levels of competence: Junior, Intermediate, and Senior. Our policy with all activities for students is “challenge by choice,” and the same applies to our volunteer crew. You proceed through the levels at your own pace. Whether you prefer to go slowly or move as quickly as you can, LAMI’s professional crew and staff are there with enthusiasm to support you.

We’ll provide hands-on instruction in conjunction with the book. You’ll become proficient in setting, handling, and taking in all sail, helming the vessel, tieing lots of knots, navigating, watch standing, marlinspike seamanship, and, above all, safety procedures used in shipboard emergencies, such as a man overboard, fire, or abandon ship scenario.

Completion of the Junior level qualifies you as a LAMI “deckhand,” and rates you capable of joining our voyage crew. Finish all three levels and you’re likely ready to test for your 100 Ton US Coast Guard Master’s license.

If you have completed volunteer orientation, here’s how you sign up for a sail:

  • Call the office at 310-833-6055 and ask for Anita or email  anita@lamitopsail.org.
  • Give us your availability.
  • If there’s room on the crew, they will put your name on the list. If the crew is already full, they’ll put you on the waitlist, and you’ll get a call if a cancellation opens a slot.

Cancellations
Please give at least 24 hours’ notice if you must cancel.