OPO News for Captains and Crew

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2021 NARC Delivered Safety and Fun in Numbers

12/9/2021

2021 NARC Delivered Safety and Fun in Numbers

NEWPORT, R.I. (December 9, 2021) - The 21st North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC) had a superb weather window for departing from Newport, R.I. on October 31. The fleet of 21 sailboats - 17 starting from Newport and four starting from Chesapeake Bay - participated in the NARC for free and reached Bermuda with no problems, save for two days of light air. Once in Bermuda, the fleet waited out a gale and left a day later than scheduled for the NARC's second and final leg from Bermuda to St. Maarten. (A handful of boats did not plan to make landfall in St. Maarten: three sailed directly to the Virgin Islands, and one sailed to Martinique.)

"This was the first year that I had to use fuel jugs sailing from Newport to Bermuda, as we had over two days of motoring," said NARC organizer Hank Schmitt, who also is the CEO of Offshore Passage Opportunities (a crew network service) and participates in each year's Rally, skippering the St. Maarten-based Swan 48 Avocation as part of the OPO Swan Program. "That small inconvenience was balanced nicely, however, with a good reaching breeze for most of the second leg. Overall, it was an easy year."

The 1500-mile NARC brings together boats on their annual pilgrimage from the U.S. East Coast to the Caribbean Islands. While there is no fee required to join the fleet, there is a modest $100/person fee to participate in socials ashore in Newport, Bermuda, and St. Maarten; various discounts from sponsors and hosts; and shared weather routing. As explained by Schmitt, the strategic design of the NARC's Newport start - breaking up the passage into two manageable parts and starting 200 miles farther east than a Chesapeake Bay departure - provides a much better wind angle from Bermuda on to the Caribbean. "Many participants have their own plans once they reach the islands but enjoy the discounts and camaraderie of traveling with other like-minded sailors in the NARC," said Schmitt.

A Commitment to Value

Schmitt, whose relationship with the marine industry runs deep, has made it his personal promise to integrate discounts, freebies and fun into every NARC Rally. Prior to the 2021 Rally's start In Newport, he organized a surf and turf sit-down meal at Rally Headquarters Benjamin's Restaurant after the Skippers' Briefing by Weather Routing, Inc. held at the Seaman's Church Institute. Team One's local retail outlet held an open house, offering discounts for offshore gear and accessories.

NARC 2021

Clockwise from top left: NARC Organizer Hank Schmitt; fleet at St. George's inner Harbor in Bermuda; Captain Murray Jacob (center in red), a mentor to sailors wanting to gain offshore experience, with his crew at the White Horse Tavern in Bermuda; sunset as the NARC fleet enters the Trade Winds on the way to St. Maarten from Bermuda. (Photos by David Lyman)

In Bermuda, Bermuda Yacht Services organized discounts at the White Horse Pub & Restaurant for the entire layover (November 5-12) and a free fish fry dinner on the first Sunday night. Bermuda waived the cruising permit fee and provided a free walking tour of the town. Public Remembrance Day festivities, scheduled for November 11, were cancelled due to Covid-19 protocols, which also cut short the Rally's full week of planned activities.

"St. Maarten ended its mandatory pre-arrival Covid-19 testing just before we arrived, so a full week of activities went uninterrupted there," said Schmitt, adding that the socials there included free drinks and tapas at an early-arrival party hosted by IGY Marina and - after the last boat arrived on November 20 - a full local-fare dinner and free drinks at the Soggy Dollar Bar. The socials continued with a free tour of Topper's Rhum Distillery followed by a discounted dinner at the facility's new restaurant; a double-decker bus tour of the island with a prize going to the sailor best dressed as a cruise ship passenger; a beer tour of the local brewery; an Open House at Tropical Sail Loft; a Trivia Night at the St. Maarten Yacht Club, home of the Heineken Regatta; and a discounted shopping spree at Divico Cash & Carry to refill lockers for the coming season. Finally, for those who were still in St. Maarten on November 25, the NARC ended with a Thanksgiving dinner gathering at Pineapple Pete's.

"This was the first year we were hosting a week of festivities both in Bermuda and St. Maarten,: said Schmitt. "We plan to do this again next year and up the fun factor as things turn back to normal."

IGY Marina sponsored two free days of dockage and a further 10% discount for as long as anyone stayed if they needed work on their boats or were going home for the holidays. Tropical Sail Loft, Budget Marine, SXM Marine Diesel Services, FKG, Bobby's Mega-Yard and Island Water World all offered discounts on gear and services to Rally participants.

Plans for Next Year

The 22nd NARC will depart from Newport, R.I. on Saturday October 29 (or the best weather window after that).

"I'm hoping that to help grow the fleet for next year, this year's participants will tell others," said Schmitt. "It's only for experienced skippers or owners who listen to advice from the professionals and have seaworthy boats, as we do not want to talk anyone into going offshore who may not be ready."

Sailors who do not have a ride and wish to participate can contact Schmitt and sign aboard a Swan in the OPO Offshore Swan Program to become a full working crew in the rally, sailing with a professional captain. OPO members get information about how to crew for free with NARC Rally skippers who need experienced crew to help safely make the passage south.

The 1500-mile NARC started in 2000 when Schmitt organized 10 skippers and crew from his Offshore Passage Opportunities program to move a fleet of Swans from Newport, R.I. to the French side of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. With a departure date set for Newport in the Fall, he decided to invite other boats to join in an organized rally and has organized the annual passage ever since.

For more information on the 22nd NARC or opportunities through Offshore Passage Opportunities, please contact Hank Schmitt at:

You can also visit https://www.sailopo.com for all of the offshore sailing information you can handle!


2020 NARC Rally: What's Changed

8/26/2020

While we are not organizing an official 21st NARC Rally this season, we will be running our Swan Program from Newport to St. Maarten with a planned stop in Bermuda. We will allow others boats to join us as long as they know we are not responsible if countries close up because of a second wave of infections in the United States. We can all hope a vaccine is available this winter to allow more freedom of access once we get to the Caribbean after the New Year. But expect to see restrictions to join as crew on any boat. It is the responsibility of the skipper to make sure crew comply with entry requirements that may be fluid this season as it was last spring.

If you think you may wish to invite people to sail with you as crew this season, please call or e-mail and we can talk about your options.

 


NARC 2020 Rally Dates Announced

1/31/2020

Each year the traditional end of the hurricane season is November 1st and Election Day is always the 1st Tuesday in November. And we have been offshore every election year since 2000. Sometimes on our way to Bermuda, sometimes right after we depart.

Looking Back to Past NARCs

For President Obama's 2008 election we arrived to celebrations in Bermuda that would have made you think Obama was the newly elected president of Bermuda. In both 2000 and 2016 we had just left Bermuda on Monday the day before the elections and missed the entire 2000 hanging chad fiasco since we did not make landfall in St. Maarten until the weekend after the elections.

For President Trump's 2016 election we were also offshore on the second leg and so our Breaking News cycle was a two-minute satellite phone called simply saying Trump won the next day and nothing more.

Looking Forward to the 2020 NARC

This year waiting until after Election Day would mean moving the departure date from Newport too late, so this year we will depart on Tuesday Oct 27th 2020. This date still allows for a weather delay and time to reach Bermuda by election day results on Tuesday night, November 3rd. The fleet will depart Bermuda no earlier than Wednesday November 4th and arrive in St. Maarten 5 or 6 days later. So now you have the dates for the start of the NARC Rally and everyone can schedule accordingly.

2020 NARC Schedule Summary


Crew Networking Powerhouse Offshore Passage Opportunities Announces Expansion into Europe

9/4/2019

Crew Networking Powerhouse 'Offshore Passage Opportunities' Announces Expansion into Europe

Huntington N.Y./Portsmouth, UK (September 4, 2019) – Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), the #1 Crew Networking Service in North America, has partnered with experienced sailor and yacht charter operator Christian Reynolds in Portsmouth, UK to bring to Europe OPO's win-win formula for matching experienced crew with qualified skippers and offering those seeking to increase their offshore experience with safe options for acquiring it. The new venture, named e-OPO, will operate in coordination with OPO for maximizing passage opportunities throughout the world; however, it will maintain its own website for its European-based members while the OPO website continues to service its existing North American clientele.

"E for England, e for Europe and e for e-commerce," said Hank Schmitt, the owner of OPO who has helped thousands of sailors meet and make successful passages for over two and a half decades. "This is a free internet-based service for delivery skippers and crews as well as for boat owners. OPO/e-OPO members get to log sea time, perhaps toward a license or for gaining experience before buying their own boat, or even so they can feel more comfortable taking their own boat on an offshore adventure."

e-OPO Launches
Hank Schmitt (top right) is teaming with Christian Reynolds (bottom right) to expand the top-ranked crew networking service Offshore Passage Opportunities overseas. The new venture, named e-OPO, will work with members in Europe while OPO will continue to serve North America. (Photos courtesy Offshore Passage Opportunities) Click photo to download in high resolution

Reynolds, a Commercially Endorsed Ocean Yachtmaster and national sailing champion, has been running yacht charter businesses for over ten years; he has logged over 250,000 nautical miles over 35 years of sailing that includes both dinghy and yacht racing. He ran the celebrated Swan 51 Northern Child for eight years and in 2013 co-founded Performance Yacht Racing, which utilizes the company's fleet of four yachts for racing programs around the world and additionally offers a comprehensive Yachtmaster Training program for individuals keen on getting real-world yachting experience that is about "learning more than just enough to pass the exam."

Schmitt, well known for years of running successful racing programs in the Caribbean and establishing/managing the "NARC" (North American Rally to the Caribbean, which is celebrating its 20th year), founded OPO in 1993 after finishing a ten-month voyage that took him from New York to Spain (solo) and then from Spain to the New World following Christopher Columbus's route. While in the Canary Islands, he met people asking to crew in the established "ARC" and "America 500" rallies, or on any boat that was planning a crossing. He thought a crew networking service might help, and when the internet caught up to his idea, he launched the first OPO web site in 1996. With the announcement of the e-OPO partnership, the fourth overhaul of that original web site was launched on August 1, 2019.

"I think e-OPO could grow larger than OPO in a few years," said Schmitt. "Europeans have more vacation time; they have more stringent accounting requirements for sea time and regulations for getting licensed; and sailing is simply much bigger in Europe than in North America. By expanding into Europe, OPO will also be able to offer more European and Mediterranean passage opportunities to Americans and vice-versa for e-OPO."

As for the efficiency of the OPO/e-OPO system, Schmitt said: "It has been many years in the making and is much more refined than any other system. Members do not have to spend a lot of time looking at posts and wading through a lot of questionable opportunities. After all, this is offshore sailing, not Match.com."

How it Works:

For those familiar with other crew networks, OPO/e-OPO offers some refreshing differences:

For more information on OPO, contact Hank Schmitt, offshorepassage@sprintmail.com, 1-800-4-PASSAGe, +1 631-423-4988 or visit www.sailopo.com. For more information on e-OPO, contact Christian Reynolds, christian.john.reynolds@gmail.com, +44 7795 955702, or visit www.e-opo.com.


NARC Rally Celebrates 20th Anniversary, Departs from Two Locations in October

6/10/2019

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (June 10, 2019) -- The “North American Rally to the Caribbean” (NARC)<https://www.sailopo.com/NARC_Rally_NARC_Rally_Overview.aspx>, which is free for participants to join, will celebrate its 20th Anniversary in 2019 when it once again brings together boats on their annual pilgrimage south to the Caribbean from the U.S. East Coast, organizing socials, discounts and shared weather routing. Scheduled for October 26 (or the best weather window near that date), the 20th Anniversary NARC Rally will offer departures from the longstanding participating port of Newport, R.I. and – for a second year – Cobb’s Marina in Little Creek, Virginia. The NARC Rally then hosts a stop in Bermuda before ending in St. Maarten.

“We are the only rally that offers an official stop in Bermuda,” said NARC organizer Hank Schmitt who also is CEO of Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), a crew network service. He explained that the route to Bermuda encourages participants to sail there rather than motor sail into the Southeast Trades without stopping. “You have to go east until you get near Bermuda anyway, so why not stop in for a visit?,” said Schmitt.

Schmitt plans to make each port visit special, especially the final stop in St. Maarten where five big sponsors have been invited “to lavish our new arrivals with ‘The Friendly Islands’ treatment.”

The sponsors are IGY Marina, which will offer two free days of dockage for each Rally boat and a 10% discount for as long as the boat stays; Budget Marine, which will offer Rally entrants a 15% discount on purchases for three months and free sign-up for the company’s new WhatsApp service; Heineken Regatta, which will reduce the entry fee for early sign-up in the Island Time Division of the 40th Annual Heineken Regatta; FKG, which will offer free rigging inspection upon arrival and a 10% discount on any repairs determined as needed during that inspection; and Bobby’s Mega Marina, which will offer a 10% discount on hauling/launching, pressure washing and chocking of Rally boats from November to the end of January.

“St. Maarten is very much recovered from Irma,” said Schmitt. “All the marine services are open; it is a duty-free island, which means it is great for provisioning, and it has the biggest airport and best airline services in the Caribbean. All this, plus the efforts of our five sponsors, will make St. Maarten a far better island than any other to call home for the winter. Or at the very least, participants can make St. Maarten their first landfall to get their boats checked and repaired if needed, leave for the holidays and then return and re-provision to explore the rest of the Caribbean.”

The rally is free with no per-boat fee to sign up. There is a $100 per-person fee for the socials, which include a dinner at Benjamin’s in Newport; a Bermuda fish fry at the Dinghy Club in Bermuda; and a wrap party at the Fat Turtle at IGY Marina in St. Maarten. Shared weather routing comes from WRI in upstate New York and discounts on dockage apply in Newport and St. Maarten. The head tax in Bermuda will be waived, saving participants $35 pp, and new this year will be a one-week option to stay longer in Bermuda and enjoy all that the island has to offer.

Sailors who do not have a ride and wish to participate can contact Schmitt and sign aboard a Swan in the OPO Offshore Swan Program to become a full working crew in the rally, sailing with a professional captain.

The NARC Rally started in 2000 when Schmitt organized 10 OPO skippers and crew to move a fleet of Swans from Newport, R.I. to the French side of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. With a departure date set for Newport in the Fall, he decided to invite other boats to join in an organized rally and has organized the annual passage ever since.

For more information on the 20th Anniversary NARC Rally or opportunities through Offshore Passage Opportunities, contact Hank Schmitt, 1-800-4-PASSAGe, +1 631-423-4988 or visit www.sailopo.com

More About Offshore Passage Opportunities OPO’s mission is to seek, gather and create quality offshore passage opportunities for its members. The company’s North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC), a 1500-mile “delivery south” from Newport, R.I., has taken place each year since 2000.

2019 NARC

Learn about the 2019 NARC Rally

Sign Up for NARC 2019

Media Pro Int’l
41 Memorial Blvd.
Newport, R.I. 02840
401-849-0220<tel:401-849-0220

Offshore Passage Opportunities
PO Box 2600
Halesite N.Y. 11743
1-800-4-PASSAGE

 


Previous Entries

Recent 2018 and Upcoming 2019 Events on 12/21/2018

Time to Rally: Free-to-Join NARC Departs Newport in November on 8/4/2015

Boat Show Sailing Options on 7/14/2015

Press Release: Crew Berths During May's ARC USA Rally on 2/11/2015

Press Release: 2014 NARC on 11/6/2014

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

Press Release on 8/4/2014