To the editor: I read with interest the letter from Conor Dillon on finding crew and/or boats using the Internet (“Crewing in the age of the Internet,” Issue No. 172, September 2008). Boat owners and delivery skippers have indeed been able to locate each other much easier since nearly everyone is now connected via the Internet. I should know since I have been running the oldest and No. 1 crew networking service in North America since 1993, long before the Internet became popular. Despite my efforts I was dismayed to not find my service, Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), on the list of crew-finding Web sites listed on page 31.
Our Web site, launched in January 1996 — ancient in the Web world — has posted monthly “Notices to OPO Mariners” for free, containing editorial and crewing opportunities that allow the luxury of time. More important to members are the short e-mail notices sent to members all month long. These e-mail notices are sent directly to members, with all the pertinent information, including contact information and, in many cases, a personal recommendation. Uniquely, we know many of the boat owners and delivery skippers, which is very important if you are thinking of spending money for one-way tickets and scarce vacation time off from work. Finding a berth with strangers is not only possible, but actually happens. Our track record has proven to be vastly superior to the tack of simply posting “wanting to crew” messages. Rare is the site that has quality postings from delivery skippers and boats owners that have been vetted to some extent.
I e-mailed Dillon to inquire why we did not make his list of Web sites. He responded that, being closer to Generation X, he was looking for the facebook.com type sites that are more of the social network variety commonly used by younger sailors. Our experience has shown the demographics of the people who have the time, money and desire to go sailing are a lot older than Generation X and they are not using this type of Web site. The baby boomer generation is still more comfortable with traditional conveyances of sailing magazines and boat shows and more recently Google to learn more, but much less likely to join social Web sites. They are also more likely to understand the concept of “you get what you pay for” and are willing to pay a small fee and join an organization to make their offshore sailing connections.
I encourage your readers to take a look at www.sailopo.com, as it offers a lot more than the opportunity to post your picture and resume in the hope that someone will call you and offer you the passage opportunity of a lifetime. We offer the stepping stone to the offshore sailing lifestyle and passage opportunities for those that do not have the time, bank account or family that would justify buying an offshore boat. We offer the opportunity to go sailing through a network of delivery skippers and boat owners looking for crew. — Hank Schmitt has been a delivery skipper for more than 20 years and is the owner and founder of Offshore Passage Opportunities.