Swan Program: A First Experience with Offshore Sailing

If you've ever considering deepwater sailing but were not sure how to jump start your sailing career, our Swan Program is for you.

Our Swan Pogram was specifically designed to introduce people to the world of offshore sailing by providing hands-on crew experience under the watchful eye of an professional skipper on a proven boat. During your tenure onboard, you’ll learn to keep watch, make log entries, navigate, use the radio, steer the boat  and perform tasks that are essential to safe offshore sailing. The Swan Program offers a fixed price for everything you’ll need aboard—you just pay for your travel to and from the boat. The Swan Program sails south from New England to Bermuda and the Caribbean in the fall, and north from Bermuda and the Caribbean to New England in the spring. Summer trips are also available.

After your first Swan Program experience, you’ll have the skills to sail on other boats. Please view the video below to learn more.


May Swan Program – Many people have already asked about the May Swan trip sailing from the Caribbean to Newport at the end of the Caribbean season. We always give OPO members the first opportunity to join us since there are a limited number of berths available and they may fill up quickly. For those that need to and want to plan ahead we are publishing the dates and taking $500 deposits to reserve a berth with us next May. We will most likely sail from Nanny Cay Tortola BVI to Bermuda and then to Newport, but don’t make any plane reservations yet as we need to get confirmation from the World Cruising Club that the marina will be in place. The back-up plan would be to sail from St. Maarten to Bermuda and then to Newport not in the ARC USA. If you want to place a $500 deposit, please visit our online store or call Hank in the office at 631-423-4988.

Tentative dates are to arrive in BVI Wednesday May 2nd to Friday May 4th

The cost all-inclusive is $3,000 per person.

NARC Rally

The NARC Rally started in 2000 when organizer Hank Schmitt was moving a fleet of Swans from Newport, RI back to the French side of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. Since Hank was in charge of providing 10 skippers and crew to move the fleet he decided to invite other boats to join in an organized rally departing from Newport in the Fall. We have made the annual passage ever since.

 

2018 NARC Rally Recap

In 2018 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.

With a scheduled departure from the US Saturday October 27th the NARC Rally had a two day delay from Newport departing with a blustery 15 to 20 knots but coming from the right direction, Southwest, then West and finally Northwest by late afternoon. Many boats had a record run the first 24 hours under reefed sails and the Gulf Steam was a non-issue compared to most years. This was the 2nd year in a row we were down to shorts and t-shirts during the day before we arrived in Bermuda. A telltale sign of the warm Southeast winds that came in the 4th and 5 day of the trip so caught the last couple of boats with a 24 hour slog to windward.

The rest of the month winds were out of the Southeast which made it very challenging for many boats to get south this year and had a record number of boats from the Caribbean 1500 and Salty Dawg rally also stopping in Bermuda. Weather as fuel depot or haven for repairs, God put Bermuda there for sailors heading north and south each year and it is a sin not to stop, so why not offer it as an official stop each year?

If you are departing from the US East Coast Chesapeake Bay or south of it you want to "head East until the butter melts and then turn south" if you want to sail or have to sail as in the days or old before self-propulsion. In fact one of the five boats in the Chesapeake Fleet made it to within 30 miles of Bermuda, but decided to continue on and not stop since the sailing angle was good enough and they did not need fuel. The four other boats made the scheduled stop, but their timing messed up the planned book signing party set for the fish fly.

Out of the 17 skippers there were three real authors in the fleet and there was a planned book signing party at the St. Georges Dinghy and Sport Club while in Bermuda. The authors in the fleet were.

Authors

  • First Author, Tania Aebi, who wrote "Maiden Voyage" Random House Publishing. Tania tells her story about sailing around the world by herself on a 26 foot vessel starting in 1985. Her first visit after departing NY on her first offshore solo leg was to Bermuda.
  • Second Author, Charles Doane. Charlie was to have copies of his 2nd book "The Sea is Not Full" Ocean Sailing Revelations & Misadventures. Printworks Global Ltd. Charlie has visited Bermuda many times on several vessels. This is his newest boat a Boreal 48 named Lunacy that is just coming out of the Annapolis Boat Show.
  • Third Author, Peter Bourke, who wrote "Sea Trials" A lone Sailors Race towards Home.by International Marin McGraw-Hill. Peter took part as the only American entrant in the 2009 Ostar single handed trans-Atlantic Race from England to Newport RI.
Peter has also been sailing to Bermuda for many years on his own and solo in the Bermuda one-Two. His latest boat is an Outbound 44. Peter is hosting our new NARC Start in Little Creek Virginia.

But Tania forgot to bring books, Charlie was the lone boat making a direct run to Bermuda and Peter arrived late as he was delayed with a repair in Little Creek. Although pretentions to educate steerage passengers failed, Bermuda never disappoints and the single word "manicured" describes the island.  The entire place looks great.

The Second Leg

The 2nd leg was a battle to get east in as the winds stayed just forward of the beam on a rum line course the first three days, but eased a bit more East as we got closer to St. Maarten. St. Maarten has bounced back from Irma quite well although the airport is still working out of tents. All the marine services are up and local eateries abound.

20 Year Anniversary

Next year will be the 20 anniversary of the NARC Rally bringing boats from the US to Bermuda since 2000. One cannot have a big 20th year without starting with the 19th which is already a rebuilding after the storm season last year. The 19th is now over and we have already started making plans for the big 20th anniversary next year.