Free Crew Networking Service for Swan Owners
If you ever need crew to help deliver your boat a company called Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO) can help you get experienced offshore crew that will sail with you or your captain for free. They may even pay their own way to and from the boat. Your only expense is to feed them onboard. The following Q & A section will explain how this works.
How does this work?
OPO is a crew networking organization whose niche is offering offshore sailing opportunities to members. Over 2000 people have joined and sailed offshore through OPO since 1993.
Why do they crew for free?
OPO members sail for free for a variety of reason. Some are getting sea time towards a captain’s license and a new career. Many have sailed for years, but do not live near the water or have a spouse that shares their enthusiasm for sailing. Many can not afford to purchase a seaworthy offshore boat, but do have the time, the experience and the means to sail other people’s boats and get their sailing fix through us. The owner pays for all boat expenses and on-board food; the crew sails for free and pays their transportation to and from the boat.
How do we know the crew will be any good?
OPO has over 500 active members, however only a fraction are “Gold Club OPO Members” who will be getting the opportunities to crew on your boat. These are sailors who have sailed with us offshore before and that we would be happy to sail with again. They have offshore miles (many of them on Swans having sailed in our Offshore Swan Sailing). Besides having OPO crewmember resumes on file, we also have them sign a “Code of Conduct” form. Key points of that code are listed below to give you an idea of what they crew has sworn to abide to.
What is my liability?
No money changes hands which limits many problems. For overseas trips make sure the crew has a return ticket. If the crew needs help they know to call our travel agent Shane at 602-870-0294 to book one way flights home before departure. There is also a “Crew Waiver” form on our web site at www.sailopo.com that you can print for free and have crew sign before they come aboard.
How do I get crew?
If you or your captain is looking for delivery crew for an offshore passage, simply contact OPO at 1-800-4-PASSAGe (800-472-7724) (631-423-4988) or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We will need the details on when and where you want crew to show up. How many? Where are you going? How long the trip will take and a few details about the boat and make up of the crew. We also need to know how to contact you. Once we have the information we need, we will send out a notice to our Gold Card member’s and they will get in touch with you. If you get several responses to a crew opening you can contact us and we will let you know more about those crew that responded to you. The more lead time the better to give crew a chance to respond and make travel arrangements.
What does the service cost?
The service is free to Swan owners and their captains.
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What if I like the crew and want to adopt them as a son to put to work on my boat more often for free?
If you meet one or more OPO members that you like and enjoy having aboard, by all means call them up directly for your next passage or Regatta where you may need many crew. One Swan owner once told us “It is much easier to meet new friends that sail than it is to teach my friends how to sail”. Matching good crew with boat owners and captains is what we do.
What if I am looking to hire crew?
We are not a crew placement agency. We leave that to others. However some owners like to hire a responsible person to help run the boat or “Boat Sit” while the boat is in port. What better way interview someone than have them come and crew for you first for free.
What if I need to hire a skipper?
If you are looking to move your boat to another location or to a regatta and do not have a skipper, we have a handful of skippers that have captained in our Offshore Swan Program and that we trust and recommend. Once you hire the skipper he can take care of organizing the OPO crew that will sail for free and pay their own way to and from the boat. This way you only pay for the skippers wages, his transportation to and from the boat. You save not having to pay crew and pay for crew airfare.
What if I want to crew with others?
We will be happy to help any Swan owner who wishes to get more sea time the same opportunity to sail as our members. Just give us a call.
Who runs OPO?
Hank Schmitt first started delivering Swans in 1998 for the French Swan Charter Company that used to charter out of Newport in the summer and St. Martin in the winter. For several years Hank was in charge of putting the crews together to move the fleet twice a year. In 2004 Hank bought the Swan 48 Avocation along with a partner. Since then they have participated in many off the Swan Events and Regatta’s and the Caribbean Big Boat Race Weeks as well as the annual migration between New England and the Caribbean.
Key provisions of the Swan Crew Code of Conduct:
- Swans are very nice boats. Plan to treat the boat both above and below decks like you were in your boss’s living room. No feet up on the couch, no crumbs spilled anywhere and quite often leave your shoes in the basket on the dock.
- Wait for permission to first board a boat, just like at neighbors front door.
- Always be courteous of others and follow the skipper’s orders. Anytime you get several new people together and especially on a boat at sea, it is good to be on ones best behavior and courteous of others just like the first day of school.
- Always make sure you are safe and tethered in when the situation warrants. You put others at risk if they need to turn back for you. We like to say “If you fall overboard you are dead, because we will come back and get you and then kill you for falling overboard”.
- No sleeping on watch. Take a 360 view every 10 minutes
- Keep noise to a minimum on night watches and when anyone is sleeping below. Do not drag your tether hook around the cockpit.
- Be respectively of others privacy and space
- Keep all common area clean. (Cockpit and main saloon)
- Be very mindful of scratching the teak interior or cabin sole. When at sea be always cognizant of the movements of the boat and do not expect objects and food items to stay in place. No Hard luggage and be careful with the wheels and handles on soft luggage.
- When closing hatches make sure it is dogged down evenly and well, otherwise some water will still get in.
- Offering to cook or clean up will endear you to the crew forever. But likewise if the cook wants to keep you out of the galley, stay out.
- Never open the fridge or freezer hatch for long and always check with the head galley person before opening new caches of food or ingredients that might be necessary for a particular recipe or meal.
- Make sure to tighten or close all lids (anyone like pickle juice all over the fridge), drawer stops, and latches and swinging doors. If you do not close the lid on the “Joy” soap bottle and it runs empty, there is no convenience store around the corner.
- Keep toilet lids down and sit when in doubt
- Conserve power, turn off fans and lights, especially the nav light is the morning
- If you smoke know the rules. Better yet quit before you leave the dock.
- Know the drinking policy at sea and respect the rules of a dry boat.
- Behave in port. No stumbling on board and damaging the boat or yourself.
- Beware of shipboard romance
- Buy dinner at the end of the trip or at least offer.
- Do not leave anything behind so someone has to mail you your forgotten item(s)