Captain & Commodore Michael Fortenbaugh
Michael grew up at the Bay Head Yacht Club in New Jersey where he exceled as a champion sailor, winning races in the Laser and E-Scow classes. He graduated from Princeton University in 1985 and moved to New York City. In 1987, he founded the Manhattan Yacht Club which reintroduced recreational sailing to the harbor. Throughout his long yachting career, Commodore Fortenbaugh has developed many innovative sailing programs, established relationships with yacht clubs around the world, hosted championships and the International Yacht Club Challenge, and established the New York Harbor Sailing Foundation. He built the Honorable William Wall which serves at the Manhattan Yacht Club clubhouse in New York Harbor and he has overseen the acquisition and restoration of two America’s Cup 12 Meter yachts, US 42 & US 46. His latest project of national importance is the restoration of “America’s Most Famous Yacht.” As the owner of Arabella, Commodore Fortenbaugh enjoys his time onboard and often serves as captain. He has also sailed Arabella to and from the Caribbean.
Captain Tom Thompson
Tom is originally from Allenhurst, NJ where he grew up sailing. His father was a boat builder and his mother a national championship racing sailor. Sailing was in his blood and he continues their legacy on the water. Tom has captained sail, motor and passenger vessels of various sizes. He has also worked in the commercial industry including on research vessels. Working on the water has taken Tom up both the East and West coasts of the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Clearly, Tom has a passion for sailing but also an affinity for music. He strives to create the most memorable and pleasant guest experience possible. Tom speaks English. Engineer James Gatchell
James was raised in Indiana where his fondness for boating began as a young boy. Both of his families had lake houses and being on the water was how he was raised. He made his way into yachting as a second career, enabled by his acquisition of rental and investment properties. He previously owned a West Sail 32 and a Catalina 22. James has travelled throughout the eastern seaboard of the United States. On Arabella, James’ natural talent for engineering has alreay led to several improvements,
including the refurbishment of the flush water and hot water systems. His next major project onboard is the installation of a new AquaMatic water maker from Parker industries. As the engineer, James works tirelessly to ensure that boat systems run fluidly so that guests have a seamless experience on board. When not yachting, James enjoys downhill mountain biking, snowmobiling, and dirt biking. James speaks English.
Chief Stew Abigail Diercks
Abby is originally from Scottsdale, Arizona. She began boating during university when she moved to Wisconsin. Her love of the water grew as she traveled throughout Europe and Asia. Abby has been on Arabella for two years and has sailed her between New York, Bermuda, and the British Virgin Islands. In addition to becoming chief stew, Abby also has strong engineering skills. Abby is passionate about the environment and loves every animal she meets. She is very extroverted but does take time to decompress by playing the piano. As a service minded individual Abby strives to make a personal connection with each guest. She is fluent in English and has basic knowledge of Spanish and Italian. Abby can also read and speak Korean, a skill that she learned when living there in 2017.
Stew Theresa Hedleston & Deckhand Jim Hedleston
Theresa is from Long Island, NY. She grew up sailing sunfish as her family was part of the local beach club. Theresa spent many years racing J/24s in New York Harbor and has experience on many cruising boats, including the Island Packet 420 that she owns with her husband, Jim. She has sailed the whole of the Caribbean chain and the Long Island Sound. Theresa’s hobbies include gardening, sewing, and swimming. Her main goal is to make the guests feel welcome and included in all activities and aspects of the boat.
Jim is from New York, NY. He began sailing when he was 13 years old and was heavily influenced by his father. Jim has experience racing, cruising, and most notably offshore delivery by sailing Stagger Lee, his Beneteau 461 between New York and Virgin Gorda, BVI for four years. Jim has sailed throughout the Caribbean and the South Pacific. He is passionate about urban farming and spends much of his free time caring for his chickens. Jim’s enthusiasm for the Caribbean is infectious and he hopes that by engaging with the guests he can help them have the most memorable experience possible. Jim speaks English. Jim & Theresa are a married couple who met in New York City when they were members of the Manhattan Yacht Club. They have both had fascinating careers in the Big Apple before semi-retiring to Leets Island in summer and the British Virgin Islands in winter where they own houses. They also serve as the Manhattan Yacht Club’s ambassadors and experts in the British Virgin Islands.
Deckhand Matthew FItzPatrick
Matt is from Atlanta, GA and went to school at Auburn University. After graduating with a degree in marketing he was looking for a way to travel before settling down. He landed on the yachting industry. Aside from Arabella he has done day work on motor yachts between 85 and 150 feet. His day work experience was done in Ft. Lauderdale, and with Arabella he has travelled the Long Island Sound. Matt is passionate about the outdoors both on water and on land. He has his PADI Open Water Scuba Certification and is an avid rock climber. Being from the South, Matt was raised to treat people with the utmost respect—a principle that he stands by with each guest on board. Matt speaks English and has a basic understanding of Spanish.