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.

2024 Swan Program

Dear Sailors,

We like to speak with potential Swan Crew before they sign up for any of the following passages. Please let me know if you have any questions before placing a deposit online or by mailing a check.

A deposit is required for any option.

I am in or near the office most of December and January at 631-423-4988. E-mail works very well at hank@sailopo.com

Once we have agreed you are ready to join us, you can make a deposit online at www.sailopo.com/store or pay by check made out to Offshore Passage Opportunities and mailed to OPO, PO Box 2600, Halesite NY 11743.

Best Regards,
Hank Schmitt
OPO

2024 Swan Offshore Program Schedule

In 2024, we have distinct options!

Two-Week Option on Swan 48 Avocation or Swan 65 Aurora

St. Maarten to Newport RI - Fly into SXM on Monday, April 29, and travel home from Newport RI Wednesday, May 15. Sail aboard the Swan 48 Avocation or Swan 65 Aurora on this 1,500-mile passage with a two or three day stop in Bermuda. Crew arrives in time to settled aboard and spend two nights and a full day in SXM before we depart Wednesday. The odd midweek dates are to depart before the ARC Europe fleet does, so we arrive in Bermuda and depart Bermuda before they do. They also depart from IGY Marina in St. Maarten. This way we do not have to compete with them for attention in Bermuda. The passage gets split into two legs with the Bermuda layover. You get to apply what you learned on the first leg right away on this more challenging 2nd leg where you will cross the Gulf Stream into cooler waters. This is a great way to reinforce what you learned the first leg and improve on it.

If you wish to join the crew of Avocation or Aurora, please send me an e-mail and we can discuss your joining us for the trip. The cost for the passage is $4,500 which includes everything except your travel to and from the boat. It includes all onboard food, fuel, dockage, head tax and even towels and linen. It does not include travel to and from the boat and any meals and drinks ashore. Once we have agreed that you will be okay to join us we ask for a $2,000 deposit now and the balance is due 45 days before the passage. You can pay a deposit online at www.sailopo.com/store or by mailing a check. We prefer checks since it saves us credit card fees. Please make check out to Offshore Passage Opportunities and mail to OPO, PO Box 2600, Halesite NY 11743.

Three-Week Option on Swan 68 Aphrodite with Murray Jacob

Final details by January, 2024.

Fly into SXM on Monday, April 29, and fly home from Spain (we are still working on final details but think the boat will go back to Palma Mallorca). Sail with Murray Jacob sailing the Swan 68 Aphrodite from St. Maarten to Mallorca, Spain departing about the same time as the other two Swans. First stop may also include Bermuda weather dependent. A stop in Horta in the Azores is another usual stop before going through the Straights of Gibraltar and ending the passage in Spain.

If you wish to join Murray, please send me an e-mail and we can make sure you are ready for the Trans-Atlantic Crossing. The cost for the passage is $5,500 which includes everything except your travel to and from the boat. It includes all onboard food, fuel, dockage, head tax and even towels and linen. It does not include travel to and from the boat and any meals and drinks ashore. Once we have agreed that you will be okay to join us we ask for a $2,000 deposit now and the balance is due 45 days before the passage. You can pay a deposit online at www.sailopo.com/store or by mailing a check. We prefer checks since it saves us credit card fees. Please make check out to Offshore Passage Opportunities and mail to OPO, PO Box 2600, Halesite NY 11743.

2024 Caribbean Sailing Events

Heineken Regatta: February 26 to March 4, 2024

Our 19th Heineken Regatta Monday, February 26, to Monday, March 4: One week in the sun. One day of practice and four race days. This is the cruising division using white sails. We do not fly a spinnaker. But we do have fun. You can stay aboard the boat (a requirement of the "Island Time" division is to have some crew living aboard) or you can stay ashore in very nice shoreside accommodations with a pool. Up to three members can bring a non-sailing spouse. The crew staying aboard come up to the pool most days for diner and a swim. There is a discounted price for staying aboard and a premium price for staying ashore depending on if you wish the master suite or just a bed. A non-sailing spouse is welcome to join us and stay ashore and enjoy the regatta with us. My wife will be staying ashore and will have a car some days to tour the island. The price includes ground transportation to get between the boat and the villa. We all chip in $200 to start for drinks and meals in the house and on the boat. We take turns cooking in the house and have maid service three times. We often have money left over for the final meal Sunday night after the awards in the Heineken Race Village. Over the years we have perfected a format that works well for all and is priced very well considering you are sailing on a Swan 48 for 5 days and staying in a very nice private villa with a pool overlooking St. Barts. Three of the six bedroom have a private bath while two rooms share bathrooms in a private two-bedroom apartment with kitchen with one bedroom that can sleep three crew. We will all eat in the big dining room up in the main house.

Ocean Pearl (6-bedroom villa): February 26, to March 4 2024

Price to stay on the boat (2 crew in private cabin) $2,250 each (includes car to get to villa to join us for meals and a swim). Stay in the ailla. Shared Bath $2,750 (2 rooms). Private Bath (2 rooms) $3,000 One Master Suite $3,500. Twin Beds in suite $2,500 (2 beds). Rooms with private baths accommodations with king or queen beds and master room can include a spouse for only an extra $500 for the week (plus $200 per person for food). So up to three spouses can join us.

Dominica, PAYS Dominica Yachting Festival: March 20 to April 3, 2024

2nd Annual PAYS Dominica Yachting Festival

Arrive SXM (Sint Maarten) March 20 and fly home from SXM Tuesday afternoon, April 2, or Wednesday, April 3. We sail to Dominica Friday, March 22, and will be in Dominica Saturday, March 23, until we leave Sunday, March 31, or the morning of Monday, April 1. Come join us for two weeks sailing from St. Maarten to Dominica where we will spend a full nine days participating in the PAYS Dominica Yachting Festival. Two crew stay aboard the boat with me (Private Cabin) and three or four crew stay ashore at Mango Cottages for our 9 day stay in Dominica. There is a different price for staying ashore since you pay for your accommodations ashore directly to Eddison and Sylvia. We have been stayjng with them for the past eight years during the week. Google "Mango Cottages Dominica" to see more. Cathy has stayed twice and they are comfortable with full baths and internet. We also rent a car to get to and from the house which the crew staying in the house chip in for even though I make the reservations locally for the car. There is a fun race midweek to Mero and back on Thursday, but most of the time we will be in Portsmouth Dominica touring the island and taking part in the organized events of the week.

Price for two crew who will stay aboard with me $2,500 per person

Price to sail down with us and stay ashore $2,000 plus paying for accommodations. Studio is $92 per night and sharing the house with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths is half of $147 per night. There is a 10% discount since we stay longer than a week and we are repeat guests. There is an option to have a spouse join and stay in the bouse. They can fly down on a direct flight from Miami on American Airlines. I can tell you more if you are interested.

2nd Annual PAYS Dominica Yachting Festival

We only have 5 berths for OPO members to sail aboard Avocation. Three of the 5 stay ashore for the 2nd Annual PAYS Dominica Yachting Festival March 23 to March 31. Others are invited to visit by air and stay ashore nearby. If you are fortunate enough to have a boat or friends with a boat in the Caribbean make sure they know about visiting Dominica and in particular joining us for the event this winter.

I am writing and article for the Caribbean Compass (which is a free monthly newspaper type publication found all over the Caribbean and online). I will include the article in the January 1st "Notice to OPO Mariners" since it will also be in print by then. New this year is the expansion of the PAYS Model with 10 new moorings in Mero. Mero is a small beach community south of Portsmouth. On Thursday, March 28, of the Festival there will be a race to Mero followed by a party on the beach that afternoon and evening. The next day we sail back to Portsmouth and Toucari Bay for the Street Party Friday night. On Saturday the government usually sponsors a dinner at the Cabrits Fort. PAYS finishes with a Sunday BBQ in the Pavilion Sunday, March 31.