OPO Organizes Relief Efforts for St. Maarten and Dominica

Friday, 06 October 2017

OPO Organizes Relief Efforts
for St. Maarten and Dominica

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (October 5, 2017) -- As hurricane relief efforts from Irma and Maria continue in the Caribbean, Offshore Passages Opportunities (OPO), the largest crew networking service in North America, is using the power of its membership to make a difference in St. Maarten and Dominica. Through its Friends of St. Maarten Relief Fund and Caribbean Mooring Field Development Foundation, the organization has raised almost $30,000 in funds that will be used 100% toward recovery on the two islands. As well, OPO has organized the Irma Relief Crew for St. Maarten Recovery program to provide “boots on the ground” assistance.

Videos for the Friends of St. Maarten Relief Fund and the Caribbean Mooring Field Development Foundation explain OPO’s involvement in helping residents of St. Maarten and Dominica.
(Click images to view)

“For OPO members, St. Maarten and Dominica are not just beautiful places to visit in the Caribbean,” said OPO Founder Hank Schmitt.  “They are places we identify as our ‘other homes,’ where we know the locals by name and have identified ways to give back to their communities. They have become family.”

St. Maarten traditionally is an included destination for OPO’s annual North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC), which departs this Fall from Newport, R.I., while Dominica – which took the direct hit from Maria a week after Irma devastated St. Maarten – was the first beneficiary of OPO’s mooring field concept, which creates a means of revenue for island locals as they host foreign cruising vessels.

Fifty mooring blocks are in place in Portsmouth, Dominica, and Schmitt was coordinating the purchase and shipment of new mooring buoys to better withstand the elements when “Irma changed everything.” 

Schmitt started the Friends of St. Maarten Relief Fund to raise money for St. Maarten and shortly thereafter broadened the Caribbean Mooring Field Development Foundation’s mission to raise money for Dominica. The Irma Relief Crew for St. Maarten Recovery program recruits individuals to help sail the boats that are delivering supplies and gear to damaged boats in the islands, an effort for which OPO is well positioned with its thousands of members. 

 “We are not just asking OPO members to dig deep and help; we also are reaching out to all others with means beyond those of the people in the Caribbean who are living on small independent islands with few resources to help them recover,” said Schmitt, who says he’ll be paying the 2.48% credit card transaction fees on all donations so that 100% of the money collected by OPO will be put in the hands of someone in need in St. Maarten or Dominica.

Schmitt says that OPO volunteers, who already have begun sailing relief supplies to the Caribbean on their own boats or as crew for someone else, also can volunteer on the ground this winter to help with rebuilding efforts. “Once we get set up in St. Maarten, we plan to offer bunks for volunteer crew to come work during the day and spend a few dollars on burgers and beer on the beach at night,” said Schmitt. “OPO may not have enough members available to handle the needs, so we have started a free signup list for anyone who wants to stay in touch with us about the plans.”

For more information, contact Offshore Passage Opportunities, Hank Schmitt, 1-800-4-PASSAGe, +1 631-423-4988 or visit www.sailopo.com

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