Into the blue

All right, you guys, this is it. On Saturday I leave to cross the Atlantic Ocean not 1, not 2, but THREE TIMES in two months. Needless to say, internet access is nonexistent at sea, but the Oosterschelde blog, via satellite, will help fill the gap left by my absence. The crew takes turns writing posts. If you’re at all interested in this pirate insanity, I urge you to follow along!

Now, deep breath. Here’s the sked. As a quirk of the flight I booked, I fly to Madrid first.

Followed by a couple days couchsurfing and tangoing in sunny Buenos Aires.

Not me (yet).

Before I jet again to the End of the World, where I’ll just have enough time to visit Tierra del Fuego. No, Dad, it’s not just a punchline.

There’s a bar here, too.

Before meeting my shipmates (I’ve already “met” one, hi Lotte!) and setting sail on the Oosterschelde.

The seas won’t always be this calm.

From there, it’s all water for a long, long time–up through the tradewinds, the horse latitudes, then the tropics, then the whole thing over again in reverse. This takes roughly 60 days.


On the itinerary, I’m hoping, is a tiny little rock in the Atlantic called Ascension Island. I guess it’s controlled by the British, but I’m pretty sure they’ve forgotten it exists by now, along with its sister St. Helena, the “cursed rock” where Napoleon was marooned and eventually died. This is the kind of place you can tell people you’ve visited, and they go, “huh?” (I like that kind of thing).

No, this is not a joke. There’s really land out there.

Until we reach Horta, Faial, Azores, a port that transatlantic sailors have used for centuries, leaving murals on the sea wall. Dolphins and whales, too!

Every one of these represents a different ship!

Conveniently, I can’t catch a flight back to the states until April 18, which gives me enough time to island hop through to Pico.

and the largest island (another flight), Sao Miguel.

Before catching my ridiculously convoluted flight back to Boston, then Minneapolis via Seattle (no that’s not a typo).

Hell, yes, I’m scared. I’ve traveled a lot, but no matter what, jetting off alone (and for me, it’s almost always alone) in the great unknown never gets easier. But I won’t stop doing it.

I’m crazy like that. I’d pretty much have to be.

Buy this book (no, not mine)!

Even at sea, there’s no escape from cops behaving badly, I guess.

Packed with photos from the Oosterschelde’s 18-month voyage from the Netherlands to New Zealand and back again, this book in cooperation with Elastik.Concepts will be published in June 2014. (And yes, I promise to try to photobomb as much as possible, so maybe I’ll be in it!)

Order now and pay € 17,50 (excluding shipping costs) instead of € 22,50. Send an e-mail with subject ‘pre-order book’ to with your name, address and telephone number.

Sending out an S.O.S.

Are you following the Oosterschelde blog? I am, and you should, if only to figure out how a crew of 28 diverse people manage to amuse themselves for over a month with no land in sight! As they move closer and closer to Cape Horn, the latest of which has proved the classic Message in a Bottle:

The text of the message.

Stay tuned to see who finds it (granted, it may take a while)!

Those are some seriously high seas for that little bottle to take on.

Through the tradewinds

The Horse Latitudes? The Roaring Forties? Ushu…usha…what? In case you were wondering exactly just where I’ll be sailing come February, here’s a helpful map from my friends at the Oosterschelde to get you started:

My route (Oosterschelde) is in purple. My leg is from Ushuaia, Argentina at the tip of South America, up through the South Atlantic and over the Equator, and debarking in Horta, Azores in the middle of the North Atlantic. (How am I getting home from there? Don’t ask).

My ports of call will span the major weather systems and the most storied trade routes, traveled from everyone from pirates and the King’s Navy. Over the next few months, my posts will take more in-depth look at some of the stops! Hop aboard!

Want to sail to Alaska on the Pacific Grace? Of course you do!

Alaskan Glacier ~ Photo by James Warburton

Yesterday, I was excited to receive this exciting dispatch from SALTS, the extraordinary Victoria, B.C.-based sail training organization with whom I took my first (and second) tall-ship voyage:

NEW FOR 2014 – Summer trip routes will include:
A 10-day trip from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert with exploration in the coastal region of the Great Bear Rainforest,
A 22-day trip from Prince Rupert, into southern Alaska to view calving glaciers and wildlife, and then to remote Haida Gwaii, with final disembarkation in Port Hardy,

A 10-day trip from Port Hardy along the west coast to Victoria, and
SALTS much-loved traditional five 10-day trips that in total circumnavigate Vancouver Island.

IMPORTANT DATE – Registration for summer 2014 trips will open on:

Monday, October 28, 2013 at 8:30am PDT at

Berths are available for young people age 13 – 25. No experience is necessary. Voyages fill up quickly (one trip filled up in 11 minutes last year), and once full, a waitlist is taken.

If you’re a youngster (which I, sadly, am no longer) and have any interest in learning to sail tall ships, I recommend you do everything possible TO GET ON ONE OF THESE VOYAGES! This is the first time in recent history (correct me if I’m wrong) either the Pacific Swift or the Pacific Grace has left the vicinity of Vancouver Island for a summer trip. Just think: twenty-two days of discovery–that’s swimming, fishing, exploring, whale-spotting, and of course, sailing–in Alaska is too exciting to pass up! (Can you tell I’m jealous of whoever gets to go?)

The Oosterschelde and her sisters: A field guide

Today in Learn Along with Claire, get to know your tall ships! In case you didn’t know, I will spending part of February, March and April sailing the Atlantic aboard the topsail schooner Oosterschelde. At the moment she and her sisters are off the coast of Hobart, Tasmania as part of the Australian tall ships regatta. A couple of local filmmakers hopped on board their boat and sailed out to the harbor to put together this video, which serves as an ideal tool to get acquainted with a pirate’s most important asset: the ship!

The Europa is the three-masted barque with square sails, for the pirate who wants to make an entrance.

The Oosterschelde (my ship), a three-masted schooner. Fast and furious, for the pirate on a mission.

The Tecla is the small two-masted ketch, for the pirate who works by stealth.

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!

At least it’s an opportunity to use the phrase “jagged rocks below”

Have you been following the Astrid saga? The 100-foot Belgian brig was wrecked July 24 off the Irish coast of Cork, with its crew safely evacuated, and now the Coast Guard has given its approval to raise her, hopefully to find out what happened. Sad that after being built in 1918 and surviving two world wars, she might never sail again. Time to sing a dirge. “Heel ya hoy, boys…”

Wrecked tall ship to be lifted from sea

Wrecked tall ship to be lifted from sea.