Orlean man, friends set out to sail around the world
John Hartz of Orlean will spend the next couple years sailing the world with three buddies. Courtesy photo
Bali, Hong Kong, Madagascar. These are all places that John Hartz sees himself visiting in his boat while he’s sailing around the world.
Hartz spent most of his life in Fauquier County and the summer community of Prout’ s Neck, Maine. He grew up in Hume and graduated from Highland School in 2008. His mother, Douglas Wise, lives on Hawthorne Farm in Orlean.
Now, fresh out of college, Hartz and two of his three partners — his former employer Tom Toohey, and James Reinhard, his Prout’s Neck neighbor — launched the first phase of their journey Sept. 26.
The second phase, and the technical beginning of the round-the-world trip, begins next winter after the third partner, Brad Abbott, graduates from college.
The voyage originated where the friendships began, in Maine. From there, Hartz, Reinhard and Toohey set off for Norfolk.
It was a little rough at times, but after three days, they sailed into Norfolk after a stop in Annapolis, Md.
Hartz stayed on the boat for the past month, working with Toohey to prepare it for a longer journey to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. They planned to start out last Sunday.
Hartz said they want to stay in the Caribbean until the summer. From there, the group will sail to the Mediterranean.
After several months, the world journey formally commences at the end of the hurricane season. In the winter, the four men — Hartz, Abbott, Toohey and Reinhard — will sail to Panama and through the Canal. Once on the other side of the Americas, they’ll set sights for the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti and Australia.
The itinerary is a little watery, pun intended, from there.
Taking a longitudinal view, Hartz would like remain in the area for a year, perhaps traveling north to New Zealand,Indonesia, Hong Kong and China.
From there, he foresees heading west around Cape Town, South Africa. Technically speaking, the last destination will be Saint Helena in the South Atlantic. However, Hartz may sail bac k to Europe or to Panama again.
Part of the beauty of the trip is that he does not exactly know where he will be or when, and doesn’t need to know at this point.
“It’s all up in the air,” Hartz said. “And that’s the excitement about it.”
Hartz learned to sail in Maine when he was 6 or 7 years old.
A couple of years later , he remembers sailing with Abbott in Optimist boats — bathtubs he called them. The two boys said then they would sail around the world some day.
Since then, Hartz has competed in races, had summer internships designing and building sailboats, and earned his 50-ton captain’s license.
The dream began to become reality when Toohey considered buying a boat. Even though at that point Hartz had one year of college left, and Abbott had two, half-kidding they proposed that they buy a boat together and sail around the world.
Last spring, the group took a significant step forward to solidifying their idea. They found the boat to carry them across the ocean.
“Even I was a little skeptical when telling people about our plans, until we bought the boat,” said Hartz. “Wow, this is really going to happen.”
Through some hard negotiating, the foursome arranged on a lease-purchase agreement of a 51-foot Swan.
Called the Alpheratz, which is a star and a constellation in the Andromeda galaxy, the boat has already sailed around the world. The craft is built to survive anything, said Hartz.
“You might not make it, but the boat will,” Hartz said.
Hartz anticipates that the voyage will take three to five years. In addition to family support, he plans to finance the trip by taking on family and friends as passengers for legs of the trip.
He and his partners expect to do all of the required maintenance on the boat. His mother said her son has always been a hands-on person, the first to grab a screwdriver when needed.
One point of the adventure is to be self-sufficient, said Hartz. A do-it-yourself approach also saves money.
And, it is easier on the wallet to split expenses four ways, he said.
The partners formalized their relationship by forming a limited liability company. They named it ATW, for “around the world.”
Three years is a long time to live in close quarters with three other people. Hartz ac knowledges the potential strain on relationships, but he keeps his eyes on the bigger picture of the goal, and not on possible “bickering on the boat.”
“I am confident that we’ll get through it together,” said Hartz.
But they can always take a break for awhile if they need to get away, Toohey said.
“In the end, the partnership and the boat is what will sail around the world,” said Toohey.
Hartz’s international experience is limited to Ireland, England and Canada. He looks forward to expanding his cultural experiences.
“It will be nice to get others’ perspectives of the world,” said Hartz.
That’s not all that Hartz expects to get out of sailing around the world. He will qualify for a 200-ton captain’s license, which means he can captain a boat anywhere.
And having the experience of sailing around the world will look good on his resume, for future career objectives. Hartz expects to meet people everywhere and make good connections.
Most of all, this trip is about doing what he loves — sailing. He remembers sailing an I-14 boat, “an old hunk of junk, ” and the rush he got when spray hit his face.
“Thinking about sailing gives me the biggest smile on my face,” said Hartz.
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