OPO News for Captains and Crew

Keep up to date with Offshore Passage Opportunities by viewing recent news. Please visit regularly to see what's new.

Recent 2018 and Upcoming 2019 Events


Recent events in 2018 and a look forward to 2019

2018 NARC Rally Recap

The 19th Annual NARC Rally (North American Rally to the Caribbean) bounced back to pre-hurricane numbers with seventeen boats. New this year was a five boat contingent from Little Creek Virginia. Yes, there are now three Rallies departing from the USA Chesapeake Bay. Read More

Revitalizing Dominica with New Deliveries

See how Hank recently helped Dive Master and dive shop owner, Fabien Honore, acquire a new Aiken Dive Compressor from Newark, New Jersey. Hank also helped PAYS acquire new bottom paint and new mooring lines. Read more.

Join Us for the 2019 Heineken Regatta

Come join us for the biggest Caribbean Regatta of the season and the only one in which we still sail. The 2019 dates are from Monday, February 25th to Monday, March 4th. Half the crew can stay on the boat and the other half can stay in accommodations ashore. Review the dates and see if you want to join us for four days or racing with time to have some "serious fun" in the sun at the right time of year. Read More

2019 Annual Yachtie Appreciation Week

PAYS, the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services, listened to Yachties from the SDR (Salty Dawg Rally) and others who had trouble getting to Portsmouth Dominica in time for YAW last year. Therefore new dates for 2019 are from March 10th to March 17th 2019. Read More


Time to Rally: Free-to-Join NARC Departs Newport in November


Time to Rally:
Free-to-Join NARC Departs Newport in November

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (Aug. 4, 2015) -- The 16th annual "North American Rally to the Caribbean" (NARC), which is free for participants to join, departs November 1, 2015 (or best weather window near that date) from Newport R.I. The NARC's primary purpose is to encourage boats that are heading south from the U.S. East Coast to join together for socials, discounts, and shared weather routing.

"The NARC started in 2000 as a way to move the Swan charter fleet to the islands, and over the years it has morphed into a much anticipated event for boats making the annual pilgrimage south," said Hank Schmitt, organizer of the NARC and CEO of Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), a crew network service. "We make a stop in Bermuda and end up down-island, where two exciting new NARC developments will come into play."

New Features

New for the Rally this year is the addition of sponsor St. Maarten Yacht Club, organizer of the annual St. Maarten Heineken Regatta – the first major regatta of the Caribbean racing season. The sponsorship puts new emphasis on the NARC's finish in St. Maarten where the yacht club will host the final party and offer an early sign-up discount for this year's St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, scheduled for March 3-6.

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta famously combines lively entertainment with the sport of yacht racing (photo credits from left: Carib Web Services, Tim Wright)

Also new is an opportunity to participate in the first annual Dominica P.A.Y.S. (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services) "Yachtie Appreciation Week" on the island of Dominica. P.A.Y.S. is a non-profit organization aimed at providing yacht services and security to visiting yachts, thereby assuring future development of the yachting industry in Dominica. Scheduled for February 14 to 21, the Yachtie Appreciation Week has been organized to celebrate the installation of a new mooring field that Schmitt – working with P.A.Y.S., the Tourism Board of Dominica and generous OPO members and other sailors – has been orchestrating in Prince Rupert's Bay over the last few years.

A new mooring field in Prince Rupert's Bay will be celebrated at the P.A.Y.S. "Yachtie Appreciation Week" (photo courtesy of P.A.Y.S.)

"All the major rallies go to popular and large islands that can accommodate their numbers," said Schmitt, explaining that in addition to the NARC finishing in St. Maarten, the ARC finishing in St. Lucia and the Caribbean 1500 and the Salty Dawg finishing in the BVIs. "Sometimes, as cruisers, when we explore the smaller, less populated islands and get to know the people, we start thinking not ‘what can you do for us?,' but ‘what can we do to help you?"

Schmitt, who has been stopping in Dominica for several years and two years ago shipped materials there for local "Boat Boy" Albert Lawrence to build a boat, said that the island has no marina of any kind and almost no marine services, so it felt right to make the philanthropic move of buying and shipping materials needed for the mooring field. The materials includes 50 new anchors, mooring balls and all the appropriate tackle. During Yachtie Appreciation Week, all visiting yachts will receive free moorings, discounted island tours, and nightly socials. As a bonus, St. Maarten Yacht Club will help organize a Rally/Race to get boats from the island of Dominica to St. Maarten in time for the St. Maarten Heineken regatta.

(from left) Champagne Reef, one of Dominica's "signature" dive sites; beautiful Emerald Pool (photos courtesy of Discover Dominica Authority)

"With the mooring field, it will be much easier for cruising yachts to enjoy Dominica," said Schmitt. "The island is 70% undeveloped and so lush compared to the rest of the Caribbean that they export produce to other islands." Dominica also has a fascinating, if fledgling, eco-tourism trade that capitalizes on its natural beauty. Some of the island's assets are a nearly 5,000 foot mountain peak; tours on the Indian River and to the second largest boiling lake in the world; 14 nature trails from one end of the island to the other; and a reservation, the only one in the Caribbean (established in 1919), for the island's native indigenous people. For more information on the NARC or Offshore Passage Opportunities, contact Hank Schmitt, 1-800-4-PASSAGe, +1 631-423-4988 or visit www.sailopo.com


More About the NARC

All seaworthy boats are welcome to begin gathering the last week in October at the Newport Yachting Center in Newport R.I. The rally is geared toward larger boats that are professionally crewed and have experienced skippers. (Smaller boats and less experienced skippers are encouraged to join the "Salty Dawg Rally," departing from the Chesapeake.)

Weather routing is presented by "WRI" Weather Routing Inc. St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club hosts the fleet in Bermuda, while IGY Marina Group sponsors the rally finish with two days free dockage and 10% off any longer stay at the Simpson Bay Marina St. Maarten (up to and including all season).

NARC entry for boats is free, with a $100 per person fee covering three socials: dinner in Newport and Bermuda and the final Party in St. Maarten.

Rally Benefits:


Media Pro Int’l
41 Memorial Blvd.
Newport, R.I. 02840
  Offshore Passage Opportunities
PO Box 2600
Halesite N.Y. 11743

Boat Show Sailing Options


Sail to or from the Newport and Annapolis Boat Shows September or October 2015

October Boat Show Run –  Sail with me aboard our flagship Swan 48 "Avocation" and attend the show while staying aboard. It is a 2 to 2 ½ day sail to and from Annapolis from LI Sound. The trip takes us through NY City, down the Jersey Coast, up Delaware Bay and then through the C & D Canal and then to Annapolis MD. We will try and get dock space for Wednesday through Saturday night, but may have to or opt to anchor out in the mooring field. So besides getting two days of passage making in you will also have a place to stay for the Annapolis Boat Show. Those making the trip south will attend the show on Thursday and Friday and can plan to travel home on Saturday. Crew change Day is Saturday with crew arriving Saturday October 10th. You can see the show on Saturday and Sunday and we will depart Sunday late afternoon or Monday morning depending on weather and then make the 2 to 3 day passage back. On the way back we like to make one overnight stop so we will be back in NY by Wednesday or Thursday Oct 15th.

You will not need accommodations in Annapolis as you will be staying on the boat. The price is $1000 per person for the first leg and $800 per person for the return leg. Couples in their own cabin are $1800 for the first leg and $1500 for the 2nd leg. If you want a private cabin you can pay $1400. This includes the boat, skipper, line and diesel fuel, but does not include provisioning or dockage. Two days dockage in Annapolis foe the show might be as high as $500, but is probably worth it for ease of access for all. If you are interested in joining me for this trip south for the show please let me know and we will reserve a bunk for you and plan to attend the Annapolis Boat Show by boat this year.

Newport Boat Show – We will not be sailing Avocation to the Newport Boat Show but “Jojo Maria” will make the 18 to 24 hour passage up to the show and back. “Jojo Maria” is our 4 cabin/4 head Benetaeu 50. The show this year is from September 17th to 20th. This is another chance to get some sailing in and see the boat show. You stay aboard the boat two nights, so you do not need to get a hotel. The price is $500 for the passage up and $400 per person for the trip back. Arrive in Huntington NY Tuesday September 15th and depart that afternoon. Arrive in Newport Wednesday afternoon and spend two days/nights aboard departing Friday after seeing the show on Thursday and Friday. New Crew arrive Friday/Saturday and stow their gear aboard the boat while they see the show on Friday/Saturday. Depart Sunday and arrive back in Huntington NY Monday morning September 20th

Press Release: Crew Berths During May's ARC USA Rally


OPO Offers Crew Berths During May’s ARC USA Rally
“What Would Tania Aebi Say?”

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (February 11, 2015) – Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), the largest crew networking service in North America, has reserved 24 crew berths for amateur crew aboard five boats it is “delivering north” during the upcoming ARC USA Rally. A Swan 57, Swan 53, two Swan 46s and a Beneteau 50, each with a professional skipper and five crew, will start the ARC USA Rally on May 9 and follow the classic warm trade wind route from Nanny Cay, Tortola to Bermuda, before taking on a second-leg crossing of the Gulf Stream for arrival in Newport, R.I. by May 25 (Memorial Day Weekend).


This May, OPO Sailors on the ARC USA Rally will voyage from Nanny Cay, Tortola to Newport, R.I. via Bermuda. (Credit: OPO)
Click image to download in high resolution


“It’s the perfect first-time offshore passage for amateurs,” said OPO’s Hank Schmitt, a professional yacht captain who will be skippering the Swan 46 Tango for a fourth time between the Caribbean and Newport,” mainly because of the short time commitment (two weeks, with an option to participate in only one or the other leg) and typically perfect trade-winds sailing the first few days out.” Schmitt added that OPO matches each crew signing up with the boat and crew that best fits his or her profile and says if anyone were to ask what someone like Tania Aebi would make of all this, he’d tell them “she’d be all for it!” Aebi, who famously circumnavigated the globe singlehandedly in a 26-foot sailboat at age 18, is skippering the Beneteau 50 Jojo Maria that has been entrusted to OPO during the Rally and has two crew spots left to be filled. (Aebi is now 48 and runs Tania Aebi Sailing Adventures; her epic solo journey is documented in the book Maiden Voyage.)


Tania Aebi, who circumnavigated the globe singlehandedly at age 18, will skipper the Beneteau 50 Jojo Maria during the ARC USA Rally and currently has two crew spots left to be filled by OPO. (Credit: Tania Aebi Sailing Adventures)
Click image to download in high resolution


OPO has been involved in the professional delivery of yachts and the integrated offering of quality and affordable offshore experiences for not-so, somewhat, and well-seasoned sailors since 2000. The company is well known for its orchestration of the North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC), a 1500-mile “delivery south” from Newport, R.I. that has taken place each November for the last 15 years.

“Like the NARC, the ARC USA Rally offers a communal sharing of information and experiences that lead to valuable ocean sailing experiences and new friendships,” said Schmitt. He explained that OPO does not own the boats on which it places sailors; therefore, there are no charter fees to cover, and expenses for participants typically run 40% to 60% less than sailing schools offering offshore courses.

The cost for full immersion in the ARC USA Rally is $2,750. (This cost does not include airfare and transportation to and from the boat.) “All rally fees are covered, including socials,” said Schmitt, “and we pay for boat fuel and provision with plans to eat well and stay dockside in all ports. As a bonus, we pay top wages for skippers who have hundreds of thousands of offshore miles to their credit, and the boats are fun to drive, comfortable offshore, and well maintained and equipped for offshore sailing.

For more information on joining the ARC USA Rally with Offshore Passage Opportunities, contact Hank Schmitt, 1-800-4-PASSAGe, +1 631-423-4988 or visit www.sailopo.com





Media Pro Int’l
41 Memorial Blvd.
Newport, R.I. 02840
  Offshore Passage Opportunities
PO Box 2600
Halesite N.Y. 11743

Press Release: 2014 NARC


North American Rally to the Caribbean
More than the Sum of its Parts

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (Nov. 6, 2014) – On November 3, after two days of waiting for a break in the weather, 18 well-prepared sailboats left Newport, R.I. to embark on a nearly 1500-mile journey that, at its conclusion, will mark the completion of the 15th annual North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC). Masterminded by Hank Schmitt of Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), the rally is free to its participants and supports the annual migration of East Coast boats heading south for the winter with either free or deeply discounted dockage at the designated rally ports (after Newport the rally stops in Bermuda, then finishes up in St. Maarten), fuel discounts, weather routing, regular on-water communication through Radio Net for SSB, and last but not least, social gatherings and camaraderie that form enduring friendships.

Plantation Interiors

Offshore Passage Opportunities
  1. 2014 NARC

    Hank Schmitt on the phone coordinating NARC activities

  2. 2014 NARC

    NARC 2014 coordination meeting

  3. 2014 NARC

    Hank Schmitt (left, background) shares a skype weather briefing with NARC skippers in Newport at Seaman’s Church Institute

  4. 2014 NARC

    Matt Warren (yellow jacket) will meet his family in Bermuda after they fly there and is getting assistance aboard Tashtego from professional captain David Lyman and crew member Christine Perakis (on right)

  5. 2014 NARC

    Preparing to set sail during the 2014 NARC

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    Boats of the 2014 NARC

  7. 2014 NARC

    Fran and Joyce Cichowski of Lucky Lady are sailing doublehanded in the NARC

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    At 65 feet, Salty is the largest sailboat in the NARC

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    A happy sailor during the 2014 NARC

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    Salty’s owner/skipper Carl Zaniboni meets with crew Peter Berdoo and Wayne Whiting

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    Preparing food and enjoying the trip during the 2014 NARC

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    Discussions during the 2014 NARC

  13. 2014 NARC

    Pierre Guillaume (right), owner/skipper of Kris, confers with crew Philippe Bodart

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    Pierre Guillaume, owner/skipper of Kris

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    Tashtego waits patiently with other NARC sailboats at the Newport Yachting Center

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    On the dock during the 2014 NARC

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    Preparing with fuel for the 2014 NARC

  18. 2014 NARC Captain Hank

    Hank Schmitt of Offshore Passage Opportunities during the 2014 NARC

As Aristotle would affirm, the rally is a perfect example of the whole equaling more than the sum of its parts, but a walk down “rally row” at the Newport Yachting Center before the boats departed also revealed that participants are as far removed from having a herd mentality as anyone could imagine.

“My wife sought out the NARC Rally for comfort in numbers, but if we arrive at Bermuda and haven’t used any fuel and we’re still sailing strongly in the right direction, we’re not going to stop,” said Fran Cichowski, skipper of the smallest boat in the fleet, the Tartan 40 Lucky Lady. In their early 70s, the Cichowskis have lived aboard Lucky Lady for three years and spent last winter in St. John’s Salt Pond Bay, serving as volunteer “Bay Hosts” for the USVI Park Service, in exchange for a free mooring. Unlike others in the NARC Rally, they have chosen not to bring aboard extra crew for the trip. “Some people think we’re crazy, but it’s a lot safer than you’d think if you’re well prepared,” said Cichowski, pointing out storm shutters on each hatch and each side window, extensive safety gear, and even a heating system that runs off the same diesel fuel as the engine. (The latter served the Chichowskis particularly well in Newport when chilly winds accompanied the front that delayed their departure.)

“Joining the rally is a way to share the experience and some knowledge and be a little safer,” added Chichowski, explaining that, after a group weather briefing on Friday, the skippers were waiting for subsequent updates, and then they each would make an independent decision as to when to leave. (By 0800 on Monday, half the fleet had left the docks with the other half looking to follow shortly thereafter.)

Because of the inclement weather, two additional live-aboard families – one on Salty, a Bruce Roberts NY 65 that is the largest in the fleet, and the other on Tashtego, a Lord Nelson 41 – decided to fly their children to Bermuda rather than have them aboard for what could potentially be an uncomfortable trip. In both cases, Schmitt had pre-arranged for sailors from OPO’s crew network service to lend a hand aboard. (OPO crew members sail at no charge to an owner and pay their own way to and from the boats on which they are placed.)

“I’m here for some more offshore delivery experience,” said Tashtego crew Christine Perakis (Marina del Rey, Calif.), an entrepreneur who recently sold her business and is a veteran of offshore racing. “I’m exploring my next options, and this will place me down in the Caribbean where I ‘m going to see what comes together for me.”

Tashtego’s captain for this trip, David Lyman (Camden, Maine), jokingly called Perakis a “yachting hitch hiker” while he explained how he embraces the spirit of OPO for creating opportunities for sailors from all different walks of life and levels of capability. Lyman himself has 70 years of sailing experience, 35 of them as a licensed captain, and this is his 12th voyage to the Caribbean. Tashtego’s owner, Matt Warren, on the other hand, only sold his house in Cleveland a year and a half ago to make a full-time commitment to a life at sea with his wife and sons, ages seven and eight. “We originally planned a clockwise circle around the Atlantic with stops in Europe, but we changed that when reality set in as to the time we can be away (two years) before having to get back to work. We had our goal of seeing whales, turtles, a volcano and dolphins…we’ve seen everything but the volcano, which we should get to see in Montserrat or St. Vincent.”

Warren said it was a “neat coincidence” that Rob Swain, captain of the Jeaneau 54 Namaste, which is participating in the rally, was Warren’s instructor in Tortola in 1998 when he took his first sailing class at the Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School.

As for Salty’s owner/operators Carl and Carly Zaniboni, ages 40 and 33 respectively, they have no deadline for sailing adventures aboard their aluminum-hulled home where their three kids – ages four, three and eight months – comfortably play with Legos in the main salon. “We don’t own anything except this boat,” said Carl, before Carly added: “We had a marine construction business in Mississippi and sold it just over a year ago. We had had enough, it was too stressful. We had said we were going to do it when we retired, but then we thought ‘let’s just do it now!’”

The Zanibonis called Schmitt looking for crew and decided to join the rally as an added incentive for Peter Berdoo (Atlanta, Georgia), New Yorker Quinn Harper and Wayne Whiting (Los Angeles, Calif.) to commit to the voyage. Harper, an OPO member, said he was matched with the Zanibonis because he was at a point in his life where he was thinking about “replicating their lifestyle,” and Whiting, also an OPO member who graduated from college in March, said he’s “not sure yet,” but he studied engineering and is thinking about a future in mechanical engineering. This trip might help him decide, and if not, he’ll simply add more sea miles to the approximately 1,000 he has put under his sailing belt already.

“For us this was more about finding crew,” said Carl Zaniboni, “but it never hurts to be among 18 boats that are within a 100-mile range. If there was an emergency, I would go immediately to help someone, but still you make your own preparations; you don’t rely on others.”

Although he has had six different boats that he has sailed literally everywhere in the world with either family or friends, Pierre Guillaume, another owner/operator from the south of France, calls himself an amateur sailor. He had been sailing his 60’ aluminum Vaton-designed sloop Kris on the East Coast this summer when he met up with his old friend Thorpe Leeson (a Newport-based captain taking the Swan 61 Apsara south via the rally). “He told me about the rally, and I thought it would be nice to join with them to go to Bermuda,” said Guillaume, adding that an actual stop there would be dependent on the weather and he would ultimately continue to St. Barth. “A long time ago I did something like a rally from Hobart to Fremantle, organized the same way: it’s good to meet people and go through the experience with the most information.”

The St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club is hosting participants who choose to stop in Bermuda, while the IGY Marina Group is sponsoring the rally finish in St. Maarten at Simpson Bay Marina.

For more information on the NARC or Offshore Passage Opportunities, contact Hank Schmitt, 1-800-4-PASSAGe, +1 631-423-4988 or visit www.sailopo.com

Previous Entries

August "Notice to OPO Mariners" on 8/11/2014

Press Release on 8/4/2014