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Mystery and Suspicions Surrounding the Abandoned Sailboat Aria

June 14, 2017 0 Comments
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Sailboat Aria washed ashore in CozumelA sailboat named ‘Aria’, homeported in Myrtle Beach, SC, quietly washed ashore in the middle of the night on the eastern shore of Cozumel, Mexico in May of 2017 with no trace of its owners to be found in the area. The boat was perfectly intact, she was fully provisioned with stores and almost fully fueled.

The only clue to what had happened was in a single post of a blog that documented her travels in which the author essentially thanks everyone for their concern and that they were OK after being rescued by Jamaican fishermen and transferred onto a freighter; that their tale was too horrible to recount and that they would not be talking about what happened. Soon after the blog was surfaced by a popular Facebook group maintained by locals in Cozumel, the blog was password-protected. The owner posted in the group thanking everyone for letting them know that the boat was in Cozumel but that it was the property of the insurance company now. No new or additional details were given despite plenty of questions and theories being floated by group members.

I have sailed *several thousands* of blue water miles in some life changing, white knuckle conditions… sailing through named tropical storms, close calls with water spouts, being struck by lightning, running hard aground in marked channels totally in fear of being swamped by waves crashing over the gunnels and all manner of mechanical & electrical failures offshore along the way…

I just sailed a 350 mile passage from Havana to Cozumel less than 2 weeks ago.

All this to say: I’ve earned my stripes sailing offshore, which makes the story of the sailboat Aria and its abandonment at sea (and the lack of details) all the more perplexing.

I can fully appreciate what goes on in a sailor’s mind when faced with truly scary weather and ocean conditions. I’ve never faced an act of violence at sea and have never had to deploy the life raft (the very last option), abandon ship or be rescued in open water (ahem – there was the matter of an oil injected Johnson outboard that seized on our center console near shore in Pensacola once)… praise be to God.

Their tale was too horrible to recount and that they would not be talking about what happened.

Rest assured, if I had it in my mind to forcefully commandeer someone else’s sailboat, I sure as heck would drink their beer, eat their food and run the engine wide open rather than leisurely sail the Caribbean – especially these last few weeks when weather conditions were less than ideal. I have to assume all pirates or smugglers would do the same. I would have stripped the boat of every single thing of value before abandoning her as well. I certainly could be wrong but I seriously doubt it was taken by force.

The boat was reportedly provisioned, floating, full of fuel and the rigging & sails intact. There didn’t appear to be any hull damage other than what was caused from it washing onto the iron shore – even a novice sailor should have been able to sail it into the broad side of a barn without a rudder. Looking at Aria owner’s profile and blog, he is an experienced sailor and navigating to a nearby island shouldn’t have been a problem for him. It would not be a rational decision to leave a floating boat due to weather or loss of navigation instruments in hopes of eventually getting rescued at sea.

(Now I’m wondering if they were in the water, on Aria or in a dinghy or life raft when they got picked up off the coast of Jamaica.)

So – with my personal and professional background, the condition and provisioning of ARIA when it washed ashore in Cozumel (I also have more than a general public’s knowledge of the condition of ARIA both inside and out) and a dearth of information from the owners… of course, I’m interested in this story! However, it’s either too sensitive, emotional or… problematic… to discuss publicly. My gut says it’s the latter – too problematic to talk about. I’d REALLY love to see the details included in the insurance claim (but my curiosity tends to get the better of me.)

INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ARIA!!! Perhaps it will become a part of the public record one day. 

My PSA for the day, entirely unrelated I assure you:

Remember boys and girls, if you’re in a legal pickle it’s best to say NOTHING or as little as possible. Definitely don’t talk about it on the Interwebs because a record of whatever you said will probably remain even if you try to erase your history. Fraud investigators have a knack for finding those sorts of statements and putting them into the greater context of their investigations.

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About the Author:

L. Scott Harrell is a retired high profile private investigator and online entrepreneur. This is his personal blog and opinions; they may not reflect those of his companies' management, employees or business partners. Posts may contain strong language and controversy.

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