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 Program 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.

2019-2020 Swan Program Calendar Summary

We like to speak with any prospective Swan crew before they provide a deposit. Plus, we always give OPO members the first opportunity to join us since there are a limited number of berths available. So, please contact us at 1-800-4-PASSAGe or e-mail us if you are thinking about signing aboard.
  1. October 7, 2019: Sail to the Annapolis Boat Show
    Depart from Huntington, NY on Monday, October 7, arriving on Thursday, October 10, in Annapolis, MD to see the boat show. The all-inclusive prices is $1,000 per person except travel to and from the boat.
  2. October 14, 2019: Sail from the Annapolis Boat Show
    Sail from Annapolis, MD on Sunday morning (weather dependent), October 14, and arrive in Huntington, NY on Wednesday, October 16. The all-inclusive prices is $1,000 per person except travel to and from the boat.
  3. October 24 to November 13, 2019: 20th Anniversary NARC Rally
    Sail from Newport to Bermuda to St. Maarten on a Swan 48 to 68. The all-inclusive price is $3,500 except travel to and from the boat.
  4. May 1, 2020: May Swan Passage: St. Maarten to Bermuda to Newport, RI
    Two weeks of exquisite sailing on a Swan for $3,250, all inclusive
  5. June 13, 2020: June Swan Passage: NY to Bermuda and back.
    This is on our Flagship Swan 48 Avocation. I skipper the boat to the island and Tania Aebi has been skippering the boat back the last few years in June. The price is $1,800 per person, all-inclusive except travel to and from the boat.

2019-2020 Swan Program Calendar Detail

Annapolis Boat Show

Since we had members inquire about the passage from Huntington, NY to the Annapolis Boat Show, we thought it was a good time to share the itinerary and let people plan to join us well in advance. Sail with me aboard our flagship Swan 48 Avocation and attend the show while staying aboard.

Arrive in Huntington Sunday afternoon, October 6, or early morning of Monday, October 7. It is a 2 to 2.5 day sail to and from Annapolis from Long Island 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. We will know on or about September 15 when they open the Annapolis Basin Marina to reservations for the show.

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 Friday after the show. Crew change day is Friday with new crew arriving Friday, October 11. Drop your gear off at the boat Friday morning and you can see the show on Friday and Saturday and we will depart late Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning depending on weather and then make the 2 to 3 day passage back. On the way back we might make one overnight stop so we will be back in New York by Tuesday, October 15.

You will not need accommodations in Annapolis as you will be sating on the boat. The price is $1,000 per person per leg. Couples in their own cabin are $1,800 per leg. This includes the boat, skipper, onboard provisions and diesel fuel, but does not dockage. We will know in September if we get dock space. Two days dockage in Annapolis for the show might be as high as $250 a night, but is probably worth it for ease of access for all. If we do not get dock space then we will anchor out for free and there is a small fee for the launch service to get back and forth to the show. If you are interested in 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.

Sail a Swan in our 20th Anniversary NARC Rally

October 26, 2019 is the 20th Anniversary NARC Rally. Arrive in Newport two days early on October 24 and plan to fly home November 13. Sail from Newport to Bermuda to St. Maarten on a Swan 48 or 68. The price, all-inclusive except travel to and from the boat, is $3,500. The two skippers are Hank Schmitt and Murray Jacob. We may add one or two more boats later in the summer.

Bermuda is an amazing island with the northernmost reefs in the world. For centuries Bermuda has been a natural stopping place for ships traveling the North Atlantic and in the past few decades for sailors aboard recreational vessels like us. It is a classic first offshore passage for many people.

The passage is both a challenge and an adventure that the boats and skippers in our fleet have done before. The hardest time to make the passage is in the fall from the East Coast to Bermuda. Heading south in the fall we jump right into the more challenging leg of the voyage. In May, when we make the return trip, we start out in warm Trade Wind conditions with winds out of the east to slightly southeast. We start in less boisterous conditions, which will allow the crew more time to get comfortable offshore, and capable steering the boat. June is by far the best month to make the crossing to or from Bermuda, but we can still have winds in the 20s for part of the trip.

For the 20th Anniversary we are starting early with plans to make each port visit special. New emphasis is being applied in St. Maarten where five big sponsors have been invited to lavish our new arrivals with "The Friendly Islands" treatment. St. Maarten is very much recovered from Irma.

Dinner at Benjamin’s in Newport, Bermuda fish fry at the Dinghy Club, and final Party at the Fat Turtle at IGY Marina St. Maarten. We get our Weather from WRI in upstate NY. You need more experience to sign aboard in the fall since we start out in colder conditions so please contact us by e-mail or phone before placing a deposit.

May Swan Passage from St. Maarten to Newport May 2nd to 16th 2020

We recommend that the spring is the better time for people that have not spent a lot of time at the helm or want to take a less experienced spouse along. The fall departure may be frightening to less experienced sailors.

The trip is two week rather than 2.5 since we do not have a weather delay departing St. Maarten. We still do have the two leg trip with a nice three days in Bermuda to absorb the first leg and get ready for the 2nd usually more challenging leg across the Gulf Stream. The price for the May trip is $3,250.

June One week Passage to or from New York and Bermuda

This one week option works well for first timers and those with less vacation time. While technically after the start of the Hurricane season, June is the month they hold the Newport Bermuda Race and the Marion Bermuda Race, so it is still very safe and the spring storm season has mostly ended.

The crew sailing outbound get to sail through New York City and past the Statue of Liberty before heading southeast to Bermuda. Last year we made the trip in record time and had three full days in Bermuda. This year in 2020 we depart Saturday, June 13, and crew change the following Sunday, June 21. New crew arrives Sunday for departure to Newport to clear customs before making the last leg back to NY. The last few years Tania Aebi has skippered this trip back to New York. The price all-inclusive except travel to and from the boat is $1,800 per person.