Author Topic: Offshore Passage Opportunities  (Read 2143 times)

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Offline JWalker

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Offshore Passage Opportunities
« on: June 30, 2011, 01:15:41 AM »
Does anyone have or know of experiences with this?

http://www.sailopo.com/

Sounds great for gaining offshore experience.

$200 for the year....and the guy (hank) connects captains and crew.

my understanding is that he tries to match up crew and captains, who are compatible.

Not only do you not pay for passage, but on board food is covered as well.

Looks like you only pay for transport to and from the boat.


still the idea of taking off into the ocean with some captain I don't know is a bit scary to me.....

what if the captain turns out to be KaptK??  

Offline Captain Smollett

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2011, 06:56:58 AM »

still the idea of taking off into the ocean with some captain I don't know is a bit scary to me.....


And me as well.

The rags and web sites are FULL of stories of incompatible crew...it's enough to give me (personally) great pause in ventures like this.  Of course, one could suppose that those are the good stories that 'sell,' and we don't hear about the ones where everyone gets along and with the romantic idea of "I made some good new sailing friends."  Bad news sells, I guess.

That site looks like a good opportunity to make money for the site owners.  In all the marketing glitz and made-up proverbs, there's not one word about vetting.  Maybe that's all behind the scenes?  It seems like you pay your $$, fill out a profile, and cap'ns and crews can review profiles to find "suitable" matches.   The onus is still on YOU to vet your choices for truthfulness in profile and proper 'fit.'

Isn't this simply the sailing version of Match.com and other dating sites?  Isn't there a good bit of "fudging" on those?  Won't there be here?  "Buyer Beware" still applies.

With all the sailing forums out there that allow "Request for Crew" type posts, it's hard to imagine folks spending money for this service.  With the existing free forums as this service, it seems like you can more easily review a user's past posts (on that forum) to learn more about them...not just relying on a one-dimensional "profile" even if it is called a sailing 'resume.'  From the forums, you know someone BEFORE the offer to crew appears...and you can filter offers from folks you know already that you won't get along with.

Sorry, but I am very skeptical about things like this.  That's not based on personal experience, though...because I avoid them.  This is just my opinion, and WHY I avoid them.

Finally, joining a sailing club might serve a similar purpose and with a much greater chance of success.  Clubs provide the 'social networking' aspect, face to face though, not "virtual" and in some environs, cross contamination with other clubs.  It seems it me, and again this is just opinion, if you want to spend money to meet other sailors, a club is a better investment...racing crew opportunities (one club here has a Wed. night series where "no one stands on the dock...all who show up get on a boat" and most skippers allow all guests to drive at least a little bit...low key racing), cruising/delivery crew opportunities, etc.  It seems to me that MOST deliveries are set-up via word-of-mouth and face-to-face type transactions...being there to overhear that Jimbo needs his boat brought down to Marina X type of thing.

The club approach might cost a little more, but you meet the people BEFORE you even consider doing a multi-day delivery with them.  The mindset, the psychology is very different.  With the club, perhaps like the forums, you know first whether you are compatible with someone...you can tune out any opportunity from someone you know you don't like.  Doing it the other way, you get psyched up about going on a fun sounding trip, and with the desire to go firmly planted, THEN have to look at the compatibility issue.  This might make it hard to say "no."  Just a thought...


« Last Edit: June 30, 2011, 07:01:19 AM by Captain Smollett »
S/V Gaelic Sea
Alberg 30
North Carolina

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  -Mark Twain

Offline Auspicious

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2011, 07:27:39 AM »
Most of the membership of OPO are people who want offshore time. Some just love sailing the ocean and don't have the boat--or any boat--for it. Some have family that don't enjoy sailing. Some are building experience or sea time for future endeavors.

The skippers fall into two categories: there is a small (six) group of professional delivery skippers that work with Hank to deliver boats on behalf of boat owners; there are other boat owners who skipper their own boats and want extra crew for a passage.

The vetting process happens during the interview process between skipper and crew. That interview should work in both directions - the crew is interviewing the skipper just as the skipper is interviewing crew. It takes some discipline to walk away from an opportunity or to cut an applicant crew member. It took a while for me to learn those skills, but I may be a slow learner.

I have had OPO crew on Auspicious many times. With one exception, due to one poor choice on my part for crew, the experiences have been exceptional. I have friends made during those passages that endure. I have sailed as crew on OPO deliveries for three different OPO skippers and had quite good experience. More friends. I respect the skippers I sailed with including Hank highly. Since becoming one of the OPO skippers myself a year ago I have had the opportunity to sail some great boats with some good people.

So the problem with sailing on an OPO trip isn't that you might have to sail with CaptK, it's that you might have to sail with ME. *grin*

With respect to money, Hank runs OPO mostly alone with some help from his wife when he is at sea. The organization grew from Hank's frustration at getting crew for his own deliveries. It started like my own long e-mail list of potential crew and has grown to a respected stature. Hank sails a lot. He keeps track of feedback from skippers about crew and crew about skippers and shares that with anyone who asks. OPO really is a service to people who want to sail and to owners who need crew and/or deliveries.
S/V Auspicious
HR 40 - a little big for SailFar but my heart is on small boats
Chesapeake Bay

Beware cut and paste sailors.

Offline Captain Smollett

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2011, 07:55:16 AM »
Good info, Dave.  Thanks.

This part, though, is my point:

Quote

The vetting process happens during the interview process between skipper and crew.


No disrespect to Hank or ANY of the members of the site, but as a potential crew or skipper, what exactly would I be getting for my money for $200 per year?  A list of skippers looking for crew or folks looking to crew?  You put your profile in for free, but have to pay to GET results.

To some, that may be worth the money; this is not unlike a small business owner paying a firm for a list of potential customers vice doing his own market research.

I think my biggest "issue" is the concept of paying for information that with just a little bit of work, can be had for free.  I still have to do all the vetting.

"Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. ... That tension will not go away."

--Stewart Brand
S/V Gaelic Sea
Alberg 30
North Carolina

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  -Mark Twain

Offline Oldrig

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2011, 02:55:42 PM »
FWIW, I've met Hank a few times, and he does not strike me as somebody who is just out to make a fast buck. He knows offshore sailing and his operation seems to be on the up-and-up.

That said, I've never signed up for his service.

--Joe
"What a greate matter it is to saile a shyppe or goe to sea"
--Capt. John Smith, 1627

Offline Captain Smollett

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2011, 09:22:33 PM »

FWIW, I've met Hank a few times, ... and his operation seems to be on the up-and-up.


I don't doubt that.

Question:

For those who have either sought crew or sought to be crew, how many times, and of those, how many resulted in bad experiences?

Dave offered a single data point...one bad experience using the OPO service.  I'm curious about (a) out of how many total times using the OPO service, and (b) how many bad experiences out of how many total experiences using a non-fee based method of lining up crew.

If I'm going to do my own cost-benefit analysis of this service, I'd like some data....does a fee based system such as OPO REALLY increase of my chances of crew compatibility?

I can tell you this...I have plenty sources of available crew around here that would help me do a delivery if I asked...and I would not step one foot on any boat with most of them.  I ONLY know this from being around them enough when I knew they were not showing their boating skills in their best light.

I guess seeing what I've seen, and hearing what I've heard ... the talk and self-aggrandizement, I'm more skeptical than most and not very trusting.  This makes me overly cautious, I guess.
S/V Gaelic Sea
Alberg 30
North Carolina

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  -Mark Twain

Offline Auspicious

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2011, 06:52:56 AM »
All up I have sailed for OPO about 20 times (perhaps four times as skipper). That means one way or another I have sailed with over 100 people.

The one bad experience was with someone that looked much better on paper than in reality. On watch at night when the a/p kicked out he didn't respond to the beeping control head and then sat there staring as the boat gybed three times, smashing three battens on the shrouds.

I realized I needed to interview more aggressively AND to be much more conservative about fitting the preventer early. *grin*

The other extreme is the crew I sailed with when the stbd jib halyard failed (wire/rope halyard that failed where it runs over the sheave). The watchstander called all hands on deck (first time I have ever actually heard that) and I made it to the cockpit while the jib was still at least halfway up the foil. In the meantime he had ground the sheet in hard to help keep the sail on board. He feathered the boat into the wind to take the load off as the other three of us scrambled forward to get the sail under control. Did I mention it was blowing stink and we were bouncing pretty good? We got the sail sort of flaked on the side deck. I keep the spare jib halyard at the mast head with a messenger line - pulled it down and ran the jib back up. None of those three guys needed to be told what to do, they just did it.

I did leave out a step of vetting -- Hank doesn't generally see the boats unless he happens to have sailed it before, but he does weed out the boats that aren't ready. They are mostly nice boats - lots of Swans, some Moodys, and top-end production boats. Hank has a very strong relationship with the Swan Owner's Association and gets a tremendous amount of the Swan delivery work on the US East Coast.

For the membership money in OPO, one gets regular e-mail with dozens of opportunities a year as they arise to sail nice boats offshore. I've never had an OPO crew member not show up (one had to bail out due to weather delays) - I can't say that about any other source of crew.

I do have my favorite crew - three people I have utmost confidence in and will sail with any time. Unfortunately I can't convince them to quit their jobs and come sail with me all the time. *grin*
S/V Auspicious
HR 40 - a little big for SailFar but my heart is on small boats
Chesapeake Bay

Beware cut and paste sailors.

Offline Captain Smollett

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2011, 08:13:31 AM »
This is great info.

I am in position to recommend OPO to at least two organizations of sailors. This is good 'testimony.'

Please don't take my questions as being 'negative;' lets call it vetting. :)
S/V Gaelic Sea
Alberg 30
North Carolina

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.  -Mark Twain

Offline JWalker

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2011, 09:07:51 AM »
This is what I love about this forum....





Keep in mind, when I posted I was specifically looking for a way to get offshore experience.

The idea of stepping onto a boat with a skipper that I don't know for an extended trip is sketchy,
but short of pointing my own bow out into the blue, and giving it a go, what other ways are there
to gain that type of experience.....other than paying a school.

Offline DavidCrosby

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Re: Offshore Passage Opportunities
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2011, 10:19:42 PM »
I have done two offshore passages via opportunities found using OPO. I first joined OPO in 2003. The first year I had to pay $200. At the end of my first year of membership I allowed my membership to lapse.  In 2009, I found my self between jobs with 6 months of severance pay. This was my opportunity to do a long dreamed about Atlantic crossing. I live in St. Louis, MO so walking the docks was not really an option. I had limited time and a limited budget. OPO worked very well for me in 2003, so it was time to join again. It only cost $100 to renew my membership.

OPO members receive e-mails from Hank as opportunities arise. During my two years of membership, I averaged close to 100 e-mails about opportunities each year.

My timing was right and I was very fortunate. Shortly after renewing, an e-mail arrived about crew being needed for a passage from St. Thomas to Scotland. I immediately contacted the owner and we started our rounds of discussions to decided if this was going to work out. 

Yes, it is a leap of faith for all parties. In both cases, this worked well for both sides. We each did our home work. The skipper/owner asked lots of questions of me and asked for references. I in turn, asked lots of questions about how the boat was prepared, maintained, the skill level of the skipper, other crew, etc. We did this via e-mail and phone conversations.

Being in the right place at the right time and walking the docks works. OPO works as well. I feel that the $300 I have given to Hank over the years has been well worth it. A side benefit was that all of the other e-mails of opportunities allowed for lots of dreaming throughout the year.

Hank appears to be very well known and has a pretty good following. Skippers use him because he gets their need for crew out to a large group of people that are serious about wanting to do an ocean passage.

If you live in the middle of the country like I do, then I highly recommend using OPO.

David