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.

2023 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 $1,000 is required for any two week or longer passage. $500 is enough for any of the one-week options.

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

2023 Swan Program Schedule

In chronological order

Caribbean options Swan 48 Avocation

Heineken Regatta: Monday February 27 to Monday March 6 (8 days)

Join us for a full week of a truly unique sailing vacation. Half the crew stay aboard the boat for the regatta and half the crew stay in luxurious accommodations in a rented 5-bedroom villa. We sail in the cruising "white sail" division which allows us to sleep in later and enjoy the pool and meals living like the rich and famous.

Crew arrive on Monday and move aboard the boat or into the villa. We finish getting the boat ready to race on Tuesday. Wednesday is practice day and then we race Thursday through Sunday with the final awards night Sunday. Crew fly home on Monday. Although some crew stay on the boat we do get an extra car so crew can come back to the villa after the race or on days off to use the pool and dine at the main house. The main house has a big outdoor space with a full bar near the pool. My wife Cathy will be with us and not racing. If you would like to bring your spouse, who does not wish to race, they can hang out at the pool during the day and explore the island. The Villa is over the top and one crew (with spouse) can reserve the owners suite complete with a bathtub in the room. There are two more king size bedrooms upstairs with a 2nd kitchen and the room under the main floor has another bedroom for 2 more crew. We can easily accommodate 3 crew with spouses and two crew sharing twin beds in the main house. 3 crew can stay aboard and have their own cabins aboard Avocation, but still come to the house for meals and a swim.

Accommodations on the boat ($1,750 per person)

Accommodations at the Villa (single $2,250 – Couple add $750-$3,000 and master suite $3,500)

Price does not include provisioning. We all pitch in $200 per person to buy groceries for the house and the lunches for racing during the day. Most melas we eat at the house or on the boat so you do not need a big budget for eating ashore.


Dominica YAW (Yachtie Appreciation Week)

Wednesday March 15/16 to Wednesday March 29 (15 days)

We really want to have a full boat going to Dominica. This will be the first year that YAW has been back since 2019. We were caught in Dominica in the 2020 MARCH COVID Meltdown, and 2021 was a bust. 2022 restriction were not lifted in time to have a full YAW.  This is the first year that we expect a full YAW celebration. Please join us for over 2 weeks on a captained Swan 48 helping a less developed island do better.

This is an event we started after donating a mooring field to the PAYS Association in Portsmouth, Dominica. Crew arrive in St. Maarten midweek and we depart for a 180 miles non-stop passage to the island of Dominica. We then spend a full week exploring the island by car and by small boat. Just like the Heineken Regatta, half the crew will stay ashore and three or four people can stay on the boat. Shoreside accommodations are at Mango Cottages where I have stayed with my wife before.

New Low Price! Accommodations Aboard Avocation (2 weeks) $2,500 $1,500

New Low Price! Accommodations Ashore Mango Cottages (1 week) $2,000 $1,250 plus $611 or half of $977 to Mango Cottages directly for staying ashore.

Studio is $611 and the house with 2 bedrooms is $977

We provision for the two weeks in St. Maarten for both those staying ashore and aboard the boat. We spend the week in Dominica touring by tour bus three or four days to planned events during the week. There are meals at the PAYS Pavilion and at the Fort on the last day. There will be two full days of sailing, but the emphasis is on seeing the interior and swimming in waterfalls.


Offshore Swan Program

St. Maarten to Newport with a stop in Bermuda

Tuesday May 3 to Friday May 19 (18 days)

This is our annual return passage from the Caribbean. It is a very good 1st time offshore passage as we start in warm trade wind conditions and work up to the more challenging 2nd leg from Bermuda to Newport crossing the Gulf Stream. This year we have added a couple of days and are departing earlier so we can avoid the crowds in Bermuda. The ARC Europe starts Saturday May 6th. This has been our traditional departure date (The first weekend in May) for over 20 years, but now the World Cruising Club in the UK has barged in. By departing two days before, we will arrive and be departing Bermuda when they arrive.

The Ocean Race (Ex-Volvo) is coming back to Newport, RI this May 2023. We will arrive in Newport three or four days before the start of the leg from Newport to Europe. I will reserve dock space for three days in Newport and then we will go out for the start on Sunday May 21. After the start we will set sail 100 miles to Huntington NY and you will fly home from New York on Tuesday, May 23. We did this the last time they were in Newport in 2017 and it was great fun.

The price for the passage north to Newport is $4,000 and the extra stay for The Race and ending in NY is $5,000.

Swan 48 Avocation

Extended Ocean Race Option: May 2 to 23 (23 days) $5,000 Sold Out Join the Wait List

Swan 65 Option: May 2 to May 19 (18 days) $4,000

Swan 68 Option: May 2 to May 19 (18 days) $4,000 Sold Out Join the Wait List

Trans-at-Newport to Mallorca, Spain

Saturday June 3 to Sunday July 2

Murray Jacob is one of our most popular skippers and we can guarantee you a great time sailing across with him. There will also be a full time mate aboard for this almost one month Trans-At on a big Swan from Newport RI to the Med. The route will most likely be from Newport to the Azores (3-day visit) to Gibraltar (2-day visit) and then to Mallorca by July 2. Swan 68 with Murray Jacob: $5,500 Sold Out Join the Wait List


New York to Bermuda

Friday June 9 to Sunday June 18 (10 days)

Please come join us for the only offshore passage of the year where we sail via New York City on our way to Bermuda. This is a great first-time offshore passage as it is sailing at the best time of year to be sailing to or from Bermuda. I skipper Avocation, our flagship Swan 48, from NY to Bermuda. We have crew change on Sunday June 18. Tania Aebi, who sailed around the world by herself on a 26-foot boat, skippers the return passage. Swan 48 Avocation with Hank Schmitt: $2,500 Sold Out Join the Wait List


Bermuda to NY

Sunday June 18 to Tuesday June 27 (10 days)

Swan 48 Avocation with Tania Aebi: $2,500 Sold Out Join the Wait List


ARC Rally from Las Palmas Canary Islands to St. Lucia

This is the big Rally that started it all. Sail with Captain Muray Jacob on the Swan 68 Aphrodite. Enjoy up to a week of pre-rally activities and a visit to Las Palmas before the Start Sunday November 19 2023. It is not too early to let us know that you want to lock in a berth sailing with Murray next November in the ARC Rally 2023: $6,000