About us and our boat

About Daria & Alex

Daria and Alex Blackwell are lifelong sailors and passionate cruisers. They have completed three Atlantic crossings and spent years cruising the coasts of the Americas and Europe, as well as the Bahamas, the Caribbean islands, and the Atlantic islands, most recently double-handing on their vintage Bowman 57 ketch, Aleria. Daria holds a USCG Captain’s license. Alex holds a USCG Master’s license with sailing and towing endorsements. Daria and Alex are members of the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) and the Irish Cruising Club (ICC). Both are also members of CA, SSCA, Mayo Sailing Club and American Yacht Club. They are also the OCC and TransOcean Port Officers for the West of Ireland and the SSCA cruising station for Ireland. Daria is Vice Commodore of the OCC as well as PR Officer and Web Editor. Alex is OCC Regional Rear Commodore for Ireland. 

The Blackwells are co-authors of Happy Hooking: The Art of Anchoring and Cruising the Wild Atlantic Way (of Ireland), both of which have received excellent reviews in the sailing press. Their seminar on anchoring has drawn large crowds and delivered positive attendee feedback (Reference: SailAmerica). They also conduct webinars online on behalf of SSCA’s Seven Seas University and Great Lakes Cruising Club on topics that include anchoring, crossing the Atlantic, and cruising the Caribbean and Ireland, and created an online anchoring course for NauticEd. Daria is also the editor for the CA Almanac West of Ireland pages. 

Daria and Alex are frequent authors about their sailing adventures, contributing to Yachting WorldCruising Outpost, Cruising World, Classic Boat, Practical Boat Owner, Latitudes & Attitudes Seafaring, Ireland Afloat, Offshore, Windcheck, Points East, SoundingsFlying Fish and elsewhere.  For many years, they served as the webmasters for American Yacht Club and launched the popular www.CoastalBoating.net, “the boaters’ resource for places to go and things to know”. As founders of Sail4Kids Make a Memory Cruise, the Blackwells were recognized with prestigious awards by the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, American Yacht Club and the International Society for Perpetuation of Cruelty to Racing Yachtsmen.

The Blackwells have both enjoyed professional careers as copywriters, marketers and speakers. Daria is a biochemist by training and global medical marketing specialist by profession. She served as President of Bozell Global Healthcare in NJ and S&H, Division of Y&R and WPP in New York City. She was elected President of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association in 2004 and founded the Europe Chapter, for which she was recognized with the HBA STAR award in 2011. 

Alex was a partner in Stardesign, a marketing support services firm in the US. Alex’s first book, Oyster Delight by Jonathan Mite, is a tribute to his lifelong interest in oysters, having launched an oyster hatchery in Ireland after being awarded a Master’s degree in Fisheries Biology from Kiel University. Alex is now working on his third novel, an action-packed thriller and the third in the Butterfly Effect series.  Together they have also published Tales of Onyx, the Cruising Kitty in 2016. Daria also published a novel set as a murder mystery called The Naked Truth, and is currently working on a historical fiction memoir called The Unwilling Immigrants

Onyx, the Cruising Kitty

Alex is fluent in German and Daria speaks Ukrainian. Alex grew up in Ireland, while Daria hails from the east coast of the US. They set sail in 2008 for a yearlong sabbatical while moving to Ireland. Many thousands of miles later they are perpetually preparing for their next big adventure. When they are not sailing, they live in Westport, County Mayo with five kittens that adopted them one cold winter. Sadly, their cruising kitty, Onyx, perished with cancer after crossing the Atlantic three times. We like to think she had a good life.

The Little Carnivores
 (Itzy, Mini, Thelma, Louise, and Cinquo)

About Aleria

Aleria is a Bowman 57 designed by Holman & Pye, the legendary British yacht design team that went on to design Oysters. You can see her lines in the lines of the first Oysters.  Her hull was laid in 1975 and she was finished in 1976, commissioned as Manic Moment by the child prodigy pianist, Andre Watts. We have little information about his time with her. Next, she was acquired by a couple who wanted to run charters in the Caribbean. They re-outfitted her, renamed her Kestrel and sailed her to the Caribbean, where we were told, the woman swore never to sail again. She was sold to a young couple who had met while working on tall ships in Maine. They took her, now named Papagayo, on a circumnavigation during which they had two children. They returned to integrate the kids into school on the Chesapeake Bay, where we acquired her and named her, Aleria. The name derives from Alex and Daria and means eaglet in Latin, which we thought was appropriate given her graceful flight with many wings. Our white seahorse personal signal is derived from the personal signal of the 16thC Irish pirate queen, Granuaille, a direct ancestor of Alex's stepfather. Does that make us pirates? Aarrrrrggghh!

You can learn more about the Bowman 57 on our Facebook group and page

Aleria flying her whites seahorse spinnaker
Aleria is now for sale, but we are in no hurry. Just thinking about scaling down for more local adventures in shallower waters. 


  1. Hello,I stumbled across this.it makes me smile reading about your story.my name is Chris oneil,my Father name is rob oneil.
    He was the official "harbour master" of hubbards Nova Scotia.I laughed out loud when he told me that he had tried to persuade you to take a mooring in the cove,not knowing you wrote the book on anchoring!!!!!! Dad passed away as a result of a stroke nearly two years ago.Your story makes me laugh every time I think of him treating people as if they did not know what the were doing!!!fair winds and safe anchorages,Chris oneil

    1. Hi Chris, For almost two years, I could not respond to comments on this blog. Suddenly they all opened up. I hope you saw the entry about meeting your dad. He made an indelible impression on us and Hubbard's Cove was always in our hearts. The 'care package' he gave us was precious. I hope you get to see this. Cheers, Daria

  2. Hello, I stumbled on your blog as I am looking for a place to leave our boat in the winter of 2019/2020 and found your location on www.noforeignland.com. Currently our boat is in the Baltic but we plan to sail her south next year and hope to make it to northern Spain. My task is to find a place to leave her. A bit about us - we are Canadians and left on our open ended adventure in 2007, sailing from Canada's west coast south around the Horn and then back up again, eventually crossing the Atlantic to Ireland. So my question was going to be: Did you leave Aleria in a marina in Spain? And if you did can are you willing to give me any info about the place? Then I read your blog's About Us section. I was amazed because 1. We sail a Holman and Pye designed Bowman 36 built in 1974 and 2. My husband sailed as crew on your boat when it was known as Papagayo (from the Maldives to Sudan) and told me that is was just like being on our boat, only larger, even the drinks locker was the same. He has often wondered what happened to Papagayo and now I can tell him. We also have a blog http://curare.typepad.com but do not keep it quite so up to date as yours. But I am still hoping you can give me an answer about the Spanish marina. Fair winds for 2019

  3. i would like to make contact with you to get some advice about boat work and Vigo

    1. Hi, You can send me your email address or contact me via messenger.


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