The Gypsy Pirate Returns: Part 2 of my interview with Josje Leyten

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If you’ll recall last week, I posted the first part of my interview with Josje Leyten, the sailor who made a splash, literally, with her videos as a crew member aboard superstar sailboat SV Delos, and has now embarked upon a brave new journey as an artist and designer at Ramatree.

The response was amazing! Friends and fans from all over the globe stopped by to check out the interview, leave comments, and wish Josje good luck. Lucky we saved the best for last!

Now, here’s part 2, where we talk about the meaning of “gypsy pirate,” how she conquers fear, and what’s next for her.

Q: You call yourself a gypsy pirate, which I love. Why, and what does that mean to you?

A: Oh thank you! Well to be fair, I like to consider myself both of those things; part gypsy, part pirate. My sailing and nomadic journey have definitely shaped me into this being and I just feel so free and liberated when I am being a Gypsy Pirate. It doesn’t necessarily mean I wear 1000 layers of bohemian styled clothing and a ring on every finger, nor does it mean I live on an old wooden boat and drink rum straight from the bottle, although I do enjoy all of the above. To me, its more a feeling, it evokes a freeing sense of being and my inner heart calling. I’m big on following feelings, not so much thought, because thoughts can be destructive if you are not aware of them. Feelings are true and come from within. You can always feel if something is right, it’s your intuition and it always comes first. Learning how to listen to that is what I am trying to do, letting this feeling lead me through this forest path. So to me, being a Gypsy Pirate evokes this feeling of ME.

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Q: To me, being a pirate means having no fear–or at least not giving into it. What’s your biggest fear, and how do you conquer it, or work toward conquering it?

A: Hmmm, I think my biggest fear would be feeling ‘stuck’, not moving forward, or feeling ‘trapped’. I like the expression that there is never any grass growing under my feet. But at the same time, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so whatever happens will happen, and it is meant to be. So in saying that, I can’t really be afraid of anything right?!  

Q: What’s next for you? What does the future hold for Ramatree?

A: I will be based here In New Zealand over the summer but next year brings a complete open book, which I am super excited about! I am finding the balance between setting my goals and dreams, yet also allowing myself to flow down the river. Truthfully, I have absolutely no idea what the future holds, which is both extremely frightening and extremely exhilarating! I love not knowing what’s around the corner, it makes life more exciting, more thrilling, more liberating. There are so many branches and directions I want Ramatree to grow in, but at the end of the day, I cannot force it one way or another. I must let nature and the Universe nourish and grow me the way nature intended. I am super fucking excited to see where and how far it will go though! I am seeking the light, as trees seek the light, I know I will grow up to where there are no limits.

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Q: Anything else you want readers to know about you and your work?

A: I think a sense of mystery is always a good ally to have on your side! I just love to create and tap into my artistic, open, flowing space where anything and everything is possible. I live for spontaneity, adventure, photography, visual media, freedom and one love! I’m open to collaborations, bookings, ideas, people, anything, so feel free to email me if reading this ignited something inside of you! Much love and light!

That’s it for the interview with Josje! What do you think? Leave a comment below.

I hope to bring you more interviews and features with inspirational and fearless sailors, artists, and dreamers , so watch this space!

 

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Josje Leyten, Gypsy Pirate: An Interview

I have a boat-crush on S/V Delos. The photogenic crew of this 53-foot Amel Super Maramu has been island hopping around the Pacific since 2009, and recently crossed the Indian Ocean from Asia to Africa, where they’re now cruising the coast. Their videos are full of endless tropical sunsets, brisk winds, idyllic beaches, and frequent laughter. I know how intoxicating life onboard a boat can be, and the nonstop fun they seem to have is enough to make you want to double-click on the “Buy us a Beer” icon on the website repeatedly, hoping if you do it enough they’ll let you come onboard and stay for a year or two…

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But to everyone’s surprise, just this year, Josje Leyten, Gypsy Pirate, lifelong sailor and Dutch Kiwi who joined up with Delos five years ago and became a regular face in the videos, made the announcement that, after the Indian Ocean journey, she was chucking it all and flying home from Madagascar to New Zealand to begin a landlubber’s life. So long, Delos! What could possibly prompt someone to give up paradise at sea?

Why art, of course. On a long passage over the Indian Ocean, Josje had a moment of clarity, as tends to happen when we lie on deck and look at the stars. Her new venture, Ramatree, embodies its name by including many branches, including photography, fashion design and jewelry. I had to see some of it: wow! She is seriously talented.

In her work, she incorporates vibrant oceanic colors, the textures of shells and driftwood, exotic cultures from her travels, and the hypnotic rhythms of waves:

And the bravery that she demonstrates by giving up her life at sea for an uncertain future truly embodies the pirate, no-quarter-given spirit I try to cultivate in my own life.

I had to find out more, so I asked Josje some questions, which she was kind enough to answer! Part 1 of her answers runs today:

Q: Does your time at sea influence your work, and if so how?

A: My whole tree of life has grown from inspiration that sailing across the oceans has given me. Wide-open spaces, time to think, to breathe, to reflect, to dream. Cultures to experience, different ways of being and living, absorbing vibes and experiencing different tribes have all been catalysts to planting this little seed that has formed my tree of life. I like my jewellery pieces unique, one off and handmade, from old treasures and hand picked collectibles.

The clothing I am designing is gypsy inspired from my nomadic wanders and sailing adventures. And I try to keep my creative writing as authentic and from the heart as possible, just the way nature intended. So yeah, I guess my time at sea has influenced me in huge ways, perhaps not necessarily so easy to explain, but in a more abstract way.

But mostly, the sea has taught me respect, authenticity and integrity. I want this inspiration to shine through my work and my being, because my time at sea has taught me that there is nothing you can pretend to be, the only thing you can do is be you and be real.

Q: What was one moment from your travels that influenced you most?

A: I guess it was sailing across the Indian Ocean this year and one specific place we visited, the Andaman Islands. It lies in the Bay of Bengal, half way between Thailand and mainland India; it is a chain of islands governed by India and it’s absolutely beautiful. The amazing fabrics, colour and styles blew me away over there. It was sort of where the whole thing started, I don’t know why but I just felt like I had to go and explore this creativity that was beginning to shine through. It was definitely the beginning of Ramatree.

Another huge influence was another creative soul, Frida, who joined Delos for the Indian Ocean crossing. She has an amazing gift of seeing people for their authentic self, of seeing the light, guiding them and allowing them to draw it out of themselves, and in turn, showing them their true potential. So she was a huge influence and inspiration for Ramatree as well.

Q: Which piece of art that you’ve made are you most proud of, and why?

A: Ohhh this is difficult, because the seed was only planted around 6 months ago, so my real life creations are limited, however my creations in my mind are big and ready to explode and radiate outwards! But I guess I’m most proud of visualizing and creating my figurative Tree of Life. I know its nothing I can show you, that you can touch, see or feel, but you can read about it, learn about it and understand it. I’m also extremely proud of my website which, with a little help, I built to share with the world. To be honest, I’m pretty proud of every creation I’ve made so far, whether its earrings, cuffs, necklaces, artwork, designs, or pieces of writing. I just love creating it all and for allowing myself to go through these transitions of life in order to do what I love, for that I am most proud

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of my interview with Josje, and post any comments below!

UPDATE: Part 2 of our interview has been posted!

I’m featured in Cosmopolitan this week

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One of the biggest challenges of being a die-hard pirate princess is that as a freelancer, it’s extremely difficult to sail and make a living. It’s a big reason why so many sailors are retired. (Although slowly, that’s changing!)

In any case, by the time I got home from my epic tall ship voyage, I’d had to give up all of my freelance gigs, not to mention my New York apartment. I needed some seed money to get on my feet again. The solution? Why, participating in a medical research study, of course! Today in Cosmo, I lay out the whole story.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

 

 

Looking toward the horizon

Christmas morning at sea?

My XOJane It Happened to Me article (yes, the one that started it all) is now in “syndication,” being now hosted on the excellent travel site Matador Network. At 7K views, I was informed it got more play than almost any other personal essay they printed. I was surprised and delighted, but it’s not surprising, I guess. Exotic tropical locales and hot sailor sex–what more can you ask for?

The editor there as invited me to keep contributing to the site, and my first article, 16 things only tall ship sailors understand, is also live, complete with bizarre lollipop cover art (see above).

Finally, my editor at Cleis/Viva has gotten back in touch, letting me know that someone in the universe besides me–in this case, her assistant–has read my manuscript and is preparing notes on it.

Believe me, after what I’ve been through with my publisher (and I’m not blaming anybody, there’s just been a lot of upheaval), this is progress.

As a writer, it seems sometimes that all I do is relive the past but I’m trying the best I can to look toward my next adventure. Ideally, I’d like to find a way to make it a permanent one. I’m entranced by the growing popularity of the digital nomad lifestyle and working from anywhere. Of course, sailing is still my preferred way to travel, and a stable wi-fi connection is generally inconsistent with being at the mercy of the wind and waves. But hey, if anybody can find a way, it’s a pirate princess, right?

My income is also not such that I can afford to spend two months at sea out of touch with the working world, as glorious and refreshing as that was. What this all means is, if anybody knows a boat with a room for a mermaid-in-residence and regular access to wi-fi, please tell them to get in touch.

Christian Siriano dresses a pirate fairy

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So, this is basically the outfit I’m packing for the trip. Still haven’t found the right wings, though.

Over on USA Today, designer Christian Siriano is talking about how one goes about dressing a pirate fairy for Disney’s new straight-to-DVD flick of the same name–complicated, because you have to consider the needs of both the pirates and the fairies. Tough, because gossamer and burlap don’t always match up.

“Zarina transforms into this pirate fairy so I wanted her to be edgier and cool,” says Siriano of the design. “I wanted this character to be fashion-forward.”

For more on The Pirate Fairy, which stars honorary pirate princess Christina Hendricks as Zerlina, the title character, and Thor heartthrob Tom Hiddleston as the cabin boy who (not-so-spoiler) grows up to become Captain Hook.

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Clearly, you can’t beat a corset.

Can a pirate fairy be comfortable and chic? How do you think he did?

 

 

Post-Pirate Day roundup o’ fun

Wish I made this.

September 19 has come and gone, but thanks to the Internet, the piratical fun doesn’t have to sail away into the horizon just yet!

Thar she blows!

Disney Parks are still celebrating not just Pirate Day, but Pirate Week.

Shiver me timbers! Oxford Dictionaries goes hunting for pirate phrase origins.

Check out Mental Floss for 17 Swashbuckling Pirate Day Facts, like how they picked September 19 (hint: it has something to do with the founders’ ex-wife).

This vintage Dave Barry column from 2002.

Christina Hendricks, honorary pirate princess.

And finally, I’m perhaps most excited to find about The Pirate Fairy, a DVD release upcoming from Disney about a pal of Tinkerbell, voiced by “Mad Men”‘s Christina Hendricks, who not only–you guessed it–runs away to sea, but hooks up with the young Captain James Hook.

Just a guess, but I think that’s Skull Island behind them.

Avast, International Talk Like a Pirate Day is Here!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day is upon us!

Some of us pirate princesses be settin’ sail for Krispy Kreme in our rip-roarinest pirate togs for thar free doughnut.

Others be headin’ to the galley and whippin’ up rum cocktails. Or rum cakes. Or the official Princess of Pirates rum pudding.

Need help on your pirate lingo? Time Magazine has the essential tips for soundin’ like a scallywag.

E! Online has thar favorite arrr-esting pirates from pop culture!

My pick for most glamorous pirate girl.

And finally, over yonder, Penguin Books has a list of the top classics of pirate literature, everything from “Peter Pan” to “Treasure Island” to “Con Men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld.” Book to keep ye company durin’ those long, stormy nights on the sea!

Announcement! Princess of Pirates is about to be more than just a state of mind

Actual trip may differ from photo.

Actual trip may differ from photo.

For the past few months, this blog has been in stealth mode. I’ve been hiding in the trees like some kind of fairy-tale witch, tossing out candy to see if anyone will take the bait. But now that the advance check is in the bank it’s official, it’s time to reveal why I decided to start it–and it isn’t, as you might have guessed, just a sudden, unexplained obsession with eyepatches.

My first book, the memoir Princess of Pirates: Or, How I Ran Away to Sea is a go! It’s due out in 2015 from Cleis Press, with a hearty salute to my intrepid agent Anna Olswanger of Liza Dawson Associates. As a result, come February, I’ll be heading back to sea for the first time since 2006, as a guest crew member on the Dutch schooner Oosterschelde. And you’re all invited along for the trip!

In the coming months, I’ll be dishing up as many typhoons, swashbuckling duels, and wind-blown love affairs that I can cram into digestible 300-word chunks, as well as more pedestrian fare like…um, finishing my manuscript. All in real time (for the polished stuff, of course, you gotta buy the book!) As always, since this is the 21st century and not (sadly) the Golden Age of Sail, I’ll be cross-pollinating on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Some of you may get handwritten letters stuffed into glass bottles, too–but I can’t guarantee timely delivery.

See you at sea!

Hastings Pirate Day is today!

The town that put William the Conqueror on the map is being taken over by swashbucklers today in the biggest pirate festival in the WORLD. Last year saw over 14,000 attendees, setting an official Guinness Record! This is a must-do for every pirate princess in the area, but since I can’t jump on a plane (or preferably) a three-masted barque, to be there, I’ll point you to the website and delight you with the pirate beauties who attended last year, courtesy of Flickr user pg tips2. The variety of pirate looks range from:

Saucy.

Romantic.

Dramatic.

Or of course, these guys.