to the
  Dry Tortuga's

May 14, 2001
12:00 noon

Sailing vessel ‘Ariel’ has set sail once again this time from Ft. Lauderdale Florida. It had been over one year since she sailed from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa and made her way to her resting place in Florida. Here she was refit with a new water maker, heavy duty industrial batteries, main sail, bimini, dodger and cushions. Also new non-skid decking and life lines, stainless steel davits for the dinghy, and a built in PC computer along with DVD, and music for endless entertainment as well as communications and electronic charts for navigation. In December she sailed to the Bahama Islands and was hauled out of the water for new bottom paint. The work has been unending… as it goes with boats. But this time she was in company with Chiquita, Steve’s personally built boat which also joined Ariel in unending hours of labor. She was sold in October which  has allowed Steve freedom from ownership of one and full ownership of Ariel.

Ariel hauled out in the Bahama Islands before leaving on circumnavigation


Log: 30 nautical miles Ft. Lauderdale/Miami
Winds 8-10 knots North East
Seas calm
Sailing 5 knots, Motoring 6.5 knots

Sun shining, warm and clear, barometric pressure steady
Arrived at Miami Yacht Club and met with friends to load up their stores of food for joining us in the Cayman Islands May 26th. Ariel’s 80,000 pounds has probably doubled as we are also carrying dive equipment and stores for other friends joining us in Guatemala. One thing we are not short on is food. Our own meat supply for the next 6 months is now totally frozen and to the brim in the freezer. Fresh vegetables are to the maximum in the twin refrigerators and the top crew bunk is now being used for dry food storage as well. A hammock is loaded with fresh fruit and swinging from the wet locker along with the wet weather gear. Organization in the holds is to perfection in order to maximize space. For a 60 foot schooner it would seem plenty of room. Not so.
Exactly one year to the day May 15th when Ariel was knocked down in a freak storm at anchor off Watson Island in Miami she returned to cast off once again this time for an onward journey wherever the wind may blow. Plans are to head west then to the Panama Canal by the end of the year. Aboard are Capt. Steve, first mate Gayla and Bob Prebie an ancient mariner who regales us with tales of seafaring times of years gone by in the waters from the Dry Tortugas to Cuba, our first two stops.

Commodores with SSCA Gayla and Steve

May 15, 2001

Log: 151 nautical miles Miami/Florida Keys and beyond
Winds 8-10 knots East
Seas calm
Sunny warm, clear

Motored out of Government Cut in Miami and set sails then off on 180 heading past sea buoys and whistle buoys that keep us off the reefs as we pass the Florida Keys most of the day. Steve is installing the new GPS (global positioning system). Within one minute it found our exact position and has an estimated position error of only 13 feet. What did sailors ever do without this miraculous device? Then he interfaced the GPS with the computer. By watching the monitor we can see Ariel, a small boat shaped curser moving along the chart like a video game in action. Once this is interfaced with the auto pilot we can sit below with the radar alarm on and the computer will sail the boat. Steve informs me that Ariel will always have crew on watch….he is a prudent sailor. Our watch system is set up for three hour shifts. We are up in the night on our shifts and off, trying to adjust to the new arrangement but the seas are calm, sky clear with brilliant stars. It is a relief to be off the land and out to sea.
Our connection to the world now is through VHF and single side band radio. All night the radio reports come in from Miami to be on the look out for a 27 foot wooden boat reported missing with two persons on board. Another report of a boat in distress in the Intercoastal Waterway at Ft. Lauderdale is taking on water. We turn off the radio…it is time to enjoy life at sea.

Last look at the Miami skyline as we head for the Dry Tortugas

May 16, 2001

Log: 45.28 nautical miles into Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas
Winds 5-6 knots
Seas calm and mirror like
Sunny warm, clear

Almost 70 miles west of Key West Fla., lies a cluster of 7 islands, composed of coral reefs and sand, called the Dry Tortugas and is a National Park known for its bird and marine life and pirate legends. Fort Jefferson its central cultural feature is the largest 19th century American coastal fort. During the Civil War the fort was a Union military prison for captured deserters. It also held four men convicted of complicity in President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.
Anchored off shore of the deserted prison we had a big meal in the breezy cockpit as the sun set behind the white sandy spit, a rookery for the sooty terns and the home of the endangered green sea turtle and the threatened loggerhead turtle.

Capt. Steve with Bob Prebie a good friend and fine sailor

May 17, 2001

Log: Fort Jefferson Dry Tortugas to Havana Cuba
Winds 8-10 knots
Seas flat and mirror like

Motored till 8PM, sails both up till 3AM then down to slow boat for daylight arrival
Calm clear night with phosphorescence rolling off wake
We spent the day visiting the old Fort Jefferson on our own self guided tour until the tour boat from Key West arrived. Then we motored the dinghy back to Ariel, had lunch in the cockpit watching sea planes land and reminiscing about the quiet evening we had at anchor just hours before with only a few other sailing boats and wondering about the demise of another.
Also here, is the site of the sunken 261 foot iron hulled windjammer sailing vessel which sank on Loggerhead reef in 1907 while en route from Florida to Uruguay with a lumber cargo. We spent the afternoon snorkeling the wreck. It was an eerie site with wreckage scattered about on the sea floor only 15 feet deep. There is an abundance of colorful fish including a huge 90lb grouper hiding under the huge skeleton of the ships ribs.