26 March 2017 | Lee Stocking Cay, Exumas
20 March 2017 | White Point, Exumas
17 March 2017 | Staniel Cay
02 March 2017 | Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera
24 February 2017 | Little Harbour, Abacos
16 February 2017 | Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas
14 February 2017 | West End, Bahamas
11 February 2017 | West End, Bahamas
10 February 2017 | Offshore South Carolina
09 February 2017 | Old Bahama Bay Marina
06 February 2017
05 February 2017
04 February 2017 | Charleston, SC
28 January 2017 | Little River, SC
26 January 2017 | Little River, SC
22 December 2016 | Little River, SC
29 November 2016 | Lttle River, SC
14 November 2016 | Bald Head Island

Castaways We Ain't. Life on a Deserted Island

26 March 2017 | Lee Stocking Cay, Exumas
Back to back weather systems have pinned us here off this deserted island in the Central Exumas. A rare Tropical LOW threw a monkey-wrench into our plans, until we came to realize that we have everything we need right here. A private beach off our bow, hiking trails, two bars from a nearby phone tower, sunshine on our solar panels, and a full water tank. We're just working, playing, skinny dipping, grilling, snorkeling, kayaking, we had a beach fire, we're doing boat chores and, oh yeah, finishing our taxes. If not for the weather, we would have moved on and missed the place entirely.

We discovered a lovely patch reef not far away with some great fish. Another cay, reachable by dinghy, is home to a huge iguana population. Fred and Wendy have a bocce ball set, so we raked a court on the beach and had a tournament. Today, I'm hoping Wendy can be convinced to lead a yoga class on the beach.

Meanwhile, a tropical LOW is east of us stirring up the sea state and closing the cuts we need to navigate in order to ever leave here. We're probably here through Tuesday.

An Ice Cube for Tammy

20 March 2017 | White Point, Exumas
Today the sky was clear so Tammy got an extra ice cube in her drink.
Can we take hot, fresh water showers this evening? Only if those storm clouds produce some precipitation. Otherwise it's a salt shower off the stern, with a quick fresh water rinse.
Can we watch a movie? Yes, but only 20 minutes tonight because those damn afternoon clouds rolled in and killed our solar output.
Aboard Aria there are budgets for everything.
For our voyage, Tammy and I made the deliberate decision to go simple. We have no generator, no water maker, no spare freezer, and no AC, among many other things that some will tell you are necessary for the cruise we are undertaking. Our boat is on the smallish side, just 37 feet from stem to stern. These choices have been questioned diplomatically as we make our way (slowly!) toward the Pacific. And the doubters may well turn out to be correct.
A small boat is easier for a couple to handle. And a simple boat is less likely to break down. On a sailboat "comfort" has less to do with an ice cube in your cocktail and more to do with knowing that you can muscle down your Genoa in a blow if a fuller jams, that you can raise the anchor if the windlass fails, that you sail off a lee shore if the engine fails. I must personally have the tools and ability to repair every system on board. We will be in places where the nearest competent mechanic is 1000 miles away. But there are labyrinth trade offs in each decision, and we may well have gotten one or two wrong. Except for the boat, of course, mistakes can be corrected, equipment can be added or removed. We are constantly evaluating. There is no right or wrong answer, and that for me is one of the many reasons I love this.
Talk about mindfulness! There is no choice but to be mindful aboard Aria. Enjoy that ice cube today, Tammy; we may not be able to spare one tomorrow.
Update: We sailed yesterday from Black Point with the mission to find some solitude and a beach to ourselves. We found it at White Point on Great Iguana Cay, where we swam, hiked and beach combed. Today we leave for Little Farmers Cay.

A Hitchhikers Guide to the Bahamas

17 March 2017 | Staniel Cay
We are in Staniel Cay in the Exumas filling our stores in advance of our push further south. After having spent the last 10 days in the remote Exumas Park, swimming, kayaking and hiking, this tiny place feels both exciting and overwhelming with its megayachts, private jets and the endless wakes from oversized tenders that only know one speed. Amidst the din, there labored Tammy and I in our nine-foot inflatable dinghy, ferrying water in two, pitiful jerry cans back and forth from the anchorage to the fuel dock. Eight times.

In Eleuthera, we enjoyed a wonderful cruise with its friendly, open people, beaches, hiking and even a cave. We rediscovered the art of hitchhiking, which is how everyone gets around. I had read about this in a cruising guide, but until we threw out our thumbs on the road, I didn't quite believe it would be a part of our journey. The first car that came by was full. They slowed down to apologize! The third car picked us up. On our return, a pickup truck offered us a ride before we could even ask.

After riding out a storm in Rock Sound we weighed anchor and set sail to the Exumas. We have spent the last 10 days marveling at these magical waters, which even circumnavigators will tell you are the most beautiful in the world. We have enjoyed excellent weather. Wind has been moderate and northerly, which has allowed us to sail SE against the prevailing winds. My fuel tank remains filled with diesel we took on in Florida.

Water, however, has been another story. It has not rained in three weeks, and we rely upon rain to fill our 100-gallon water tank. If we conserve, Tammy and I can survive 4 weeks on a tank. Three weeks is more comfortable. Hence our long afternoon ferrying water here at Staniel Cay.

Right now, a weak front is moving through bringing NE winds at 25 kts through the weekend. Our anchor is well set, Tammy is sleeping and I will be soon. Our plan is to push south tomorrow despite what will surely be messy conditions on the Exumas Bank.

An Ungentlemanly Sail

02 March 2017 | Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera
The saying, "gentleman only sail downwind," does not imply that there is something ungentlemanly about sailing upwind. It's just more work, you get wet, the boat gets salt-encrusted, you're heeled uncomfortably and you have to sail twice as far because of tacking. You still arrive, albeit a bit beat-up. Gentleman, you see, have the luxury of time; time to wait for winds abaft.
We have the luxury of time, but we still sail upwind when it gets us somewhere we want to go - as we did yesterday to Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera.
I made a video of the sail, so people could see what all those gentlemen in their blue blazers are missing.
Meanwhile, we are loving Eleuthera. It's not tourism-driven as much as, say, the Abacos and Exumas. Don't get me wrong. We love both those places, but this is a real place, less corrupted by the industry that has grown up around cruisers such as ourselves.
The highlight was a cave, of all things, and I'm not normally a fan of caves. This experience certainly not have existed in the US. It took us 30 minutes to complete the walk from entrance to exit, and we were alone the whole time. There was a labyrinth of forks, left-right-up-down in complete darkness. Our only guide was a piece of fishing line someone had strong from mouth the exit. I loved the independence, though my eye rarely strayed from the line.
We're presently in Governor's Harbor, a lovely bay about midway along western Eleuthera. It was the original capital of the Bahamas, and looks quite different from anywhere else we've been, with its well-kept 19th century houses, services - even the island's only movie theater!
I have some boat projects - a bad ground somewhere in the charging circuit, a leak in the head and an autopilot position sensor that keeps coming loose from mechanical arm.

Where the Anchor Is

24 February 2017 | Little Harbour, Abacos
Yesterday we took hot showers using fresh water that we harvested during a storm. We heated the water using a solar bag. The grey water was flushed from the head by a pump powered by the sun. The solar panels that generate that power are mounted on our boat -- a sailboat of course, which is motivated by wind.

How can one not be romantic about sailing?

In the two weeks since we left Florida, we have used 6 gallons of fuel, and I resent every drop. I wonder: Why aren't we sailing on and off anchor?

"Home" these last five days has been the southern Abacos, the last bit of this Bahamian island grouping that we have never seen. We rode out a gale (the one that filled our tank), explored, worked on our boat and caught up with work. We are so far behind schedule that I have decided to flush the schedule altogether. Months of planning down the head. Perhaps that's where it rightly belongs.

We expect to leave tomorrow for Eleuthera.

Unless we don't.

PICTURE: With our friends, Fred and Wendy Edmiston, of "Brown-Eyed Girl" near Little Harbour, Abacos

The First Rule of Sailing Is

16 February 2017 | Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas
Keep the water outside the boat. Every sailor is taught this simple rule of crisis triage, and now I was to be tested.

Yesterday while sailing from Great Sale Cay to Green Turtle Cay I became aware that our bilge pump was cycling on. I went below and discovered water pouring in. I tasted it. Seawater. The boat was basically sinking. Sailors call this "taking on water." You never want to hear those words. The only thing keeping us afloat was a single bilge pump, and it could barely keep up. Water was entering aggressively from somewhere. But where?

Every boat begins its life as a perfect, water tight vessel. The hull. Then we proceed to drill holes in it for important things like steering and engine shafts, and then for nice things like heads, sinks, showers, refrigerators, speed and depth sounders, generators, watermakers and so on. Any one of these holes can sink the boat, which is why it is essential to know exactly where every through-hull is located, for just such an emergency.

While Tammy steered through the 25kt winds howling above, I proceeded below to tear apart the boat. I checked and closed every seacock. I inspected the packing around the engine shaft and the steering post. All dry. And still water was pouring in. It seemed to be entering directly into the sump area of the bilge. How was that even possible? Smarter sailors than I may already have enough information to deduce the source.

As it happened, fate, providence, luck intervened. From above Tammy cried, "Hang on!" and we were struck by a large wave that threw the boat violently. Suddenly the water intrusion stopped. I tidied up belowdecks, and we went on with our sailing day, arriving in Green Turtle Cay some six hours later with a perfectly dry bilge.

So what happened? I have since deduced that a siphon had developed in the bilge hose. The very hose that was pumping out the water was also siphoning it right back in! I vaguely recalled reading about this effect. There should be an anti-siphon valve in that line. Island Packet did not see fit to install one. I will be remedying this situation at the first opportunity.

Meanwhile, we have enjoyed two days of fantastic sailing from West End to Green Turtle. Yesterday was particularly spirited with winds gusting to 32kts. My mainsail was reefed to nearly a trysail with just a handkerchief of jib. The boat was balanced - and flying.

We expect to be here for one more night till a front moves through, then we'll continue south to Eleuthera.
Vessel Name: Aria
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 350
Hailing Port: Myrtle Beach, SC
Crew: The Hetzers: Tammy & Michael
About: Email: aria (at) webhenmedia (dot) com
Extra: We're on YouTube! You Tube Channel
Home Page: http://www.svaria.com
Aria's Photos - Main
33 Photos
Created 22 April 2016
65 Photos
Created 30 June 2015
Continued, beginning with Christmas Eve on Hawksbill Cay through Staniel Cay and beyond
73 Photos
Created 27 December 2013
This album covers a lot of sailing. First we sailed Aria from Little River to Nassau with Tom Leonard and Gary Miller. Later, while I remained aboard Aria, the family plus my old college pal, Larry Knipp, joined me at various times throughout the winter.
53 Photos
Created 21 November 2013
Conrad and I hiked 8 days through Bavaria beginning in Oy-Mittleberg and ending in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
28 Photos
Created 30 July 2013
June 2013: St. Helena Sound, Beaufort, Hilton Head, Bluffton
33 Photos
Created 25 June 2013
Tammy and I, sans kids, visit Beaufort, Morehead City, Bald Head Island and Southport
26 Photos
Created 1 April 2013
Instead of a bushing, I used two custom-made steel plates to repair an elongated hole that supports the alternator.
9 Photos
Created 15 February 2013
Photo essay of my project to replace heat exchanger, and make several other upgrades to the fresh water and sea water loops.
18 Photos
Created 26 January 2013
25 Photos
Created 6 September 2012
Tammy and I sailed to Cape Lookout Bight, then returned via Wrightsville Beach to Bald Head Island, where the kids and dog joined us. Lovely family vacation!
27 Photos
Created 12 August 2012
Michael's voyage from the BVI to Bermuda, May 7, 2012
25 Photos
Created 6 May 2012
Pictures sailing in our home waters, a stretch of the coastal Atlantic called, Long Bay.
5 Photos
Created 28 April 2012
Scott Jackson, James "JD" Dodd and myself sailing from Marsh Harbour, Abacos to Little River, SC, clearing in at Charleston, SC
21 Photos
Created 24 April 2012
Hetzers, Plus Sarah Martin!
32 Photos
Created 8 April 2012
Trying out the new mainsail, a mylar/taffeta laminate sail from Neil Pryde.
9 Photos
Created 3 April 2012
17 Photos
Created 3 April 2012
Six guys, two identical Beneteau 40s, a dozen islands and ample stores of rum - how I spent spring break, 2010.
20 Photos
Created 3 April 2012
Summer 2010
20 Photos
Created 3 April 2012
Christmas 2009
20 Photos
Created 3 April 2012
The boat was in Milford, CT when I bought it. We sailed it home... well, motored mostly, as there was no wind, and we got the mainsail jammed in the mast on the first day. We came ashore in Atlantic City to take on more fuel.
26 Photos
Created 2 April 2012