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It’s been almost two years, and I miss it every single day (VIDEO)

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Dutch TV has now aired four different video installments of the Oosterschelde’s round-the-world voyage of 2014, which I’ve been watching with awe and a little trepidation. I’ve seen most of the videos, so I figured it wouldn’t be that earth-shattering. But I was a delighted to see that a lot of this astonishing footage–of dolphin pods, of hauling lines in gales, of the beautiful sun-hardened faces of the crew–was new to me, too.

In particular, I recommend watching the last one. Not all of these people I met in person–my leg of the voyage unfortunately isn’t featured at all, because two months straight at sea proved too much for even the most intrepid documentarian. The focus here is on the shorter Antarctic  journeys and the Cape Horn voyage that took place before I boarded, as well as the trip from the Azores (where I got off) to Rotterdam. However you will see many of the crew members who were onboard my leg.

It’s also a chance for you to see some extremely familiar faces to me (without naming any names of course).

But I’m just going to say it–going back can be painful. The other day, the longing to go back was almost unbearable. Images flit through my brain: as if I were back sitting on the wooden deck box, the rain pattering on my face on midnight watch. Watching the sun rise out of the gray mist, the drowned world reformed anew each day.  Unfiltered sunlight on weathered rope. The flip of the tail of an Ascension blackfish. The drunken ecstasy of dancing in the middle of the world with people who, for that moment, at least, are beautiful, inside and out , and who think you are beautiful, too. I felt…blessed. And even though some of those good feelings eventually crumbled, as they always do, our community of pirates has dispersed and moved on, our connections broken or lost, their etchings remain on me, unerasable.

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What I’ve written on this blog and elsewhere has only scratched the surface of what it was really like. So few people get a chance to experience something that is so far removed from everday existence that it’s like almost literally traveling to another universe. I look around my house now and I have to pinch myself to remind me that it was actually real. How do you ever move on after that? How do you engage yourself in the normal rhythms of 21st century life? Honestly, I still haven’t quite figured it out. I’m not the same person as I was before that trip, and I don’t know if I ever will be.

This isn’t “an oh, wasn’t that a great trip.” It’s so far beyond that it scares me–the fact that it’s almost two years later and this longing is as powerful as ever. And the knowledge that I will never get that feeling back–and I may never do anything in my life that makes me feel that way again– sometimes scares me.  I can try to recreate it (I have tried to recreate it) but it would never be the same. I don’t want it to be the same.

All I can hope is that someday I’ll be able to do something again that will mean as much to me as this trip did, that I’ll be embraced by a group of people in the same way I was embraced by them. I had hopes that it would continue, that this could somehow be the new normal. But I was naive. But if it’s possible for anyone to simply run away to sea forever and never come back, I’ve yet to meet them. There are always obligations, always yokes, always links to land.

As 2015 comes to a close, I’m feeling reflective. The readers of this blog have helped me along the journey, and I am thankful for you, too! The chance to share my adventures with you is a true gift. I hope there are lot more adventures ahead of me, no matter what they may be, and I hope you’re along to experience them, too.

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In the New Year, I have big plans for this blog. The number one question I get when I tell people about my adventures is, how? How did you sail on a tall ship? And how can I do it too?

In 2016, I hope to do a post, or series of posts, that answers that question.

And still I keep dreaming.

Join me on the #girlsquad! I’ve been named a Mogul Global Ambassador: and you can be, too!

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I’ve joined the #girlsquad!

I’ve been named one of the first 100 Mogul Global Ambassadors. Mogul is a platform to connect women worldwide to trending content. Their goal with Mogul Courses is to educate 62 million girls worldwide on how to rock their careers, relationships, and every other aspect of their lives. Sound ambitious? It totally is.

Founder Tiffany Pham, who’s a social media rock star, was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and one of Elle’s 30 Women Under 30 Who Are Changing the World. The Mogul team of advisers include Jennifer 8. Lee, founder of Plympton and adviser to Upworthy, and Alexandra Wilson, founder of Gilt Groupe.

Basically, this is a team made up of the coolest women influencers, and you can join me in being part of it by clicking here, or on the button located conveniently on the sidebar. You get a chance to win swag for everyone you help sign up, and for a limited time they’re offering $500 off any course on Mogul (in other words, free!) I recommend the Travel course (duh!)

As if that weren’t enough, Mogul is partnering with the following folks to give away an all-expenses paid trip to JAMAICA? If you’re like me and live Up North, you’re already cranking up the thermostat and dreaming of equatorial waters, so why not enter? It includes a $1500 airfare credit, 4 nights at the Round Hill Resort in Montego Bay, a free Mogul Travel course, and six months of wine from Wine Awesomeness. You can enter by clicking here. See on the #girlsquad!

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4 ways spending Thanksgiving in Rome taught me how to travel

It was November of 2005, and I was spending my fall semester of my junior year studying at in Belfast, Northern Ireland, when four fellow students and I decided to be daring and have a continental adventure before we went home for Christmas. Ryanair direct to Fiumicino, here we come!72772880_89029e1777_z

It seemed clever and brave. But the truth was, I had never before visited a non-English speaking country. I had never spent a holiday abroad. I was still terrified of speaking Italian, and I carried my own personalized phrasebook with me–printed on paper–at the very top was “No parliamo italiano.” In other words, for the love of god, please don’t talk to me. Please don’t make me humiliate myself. Above all, I was terrified of doing something wrong.

 

  1. How to make friends–no, family!–out of anyone. The truth was, I didn’t know any of my traveling companions that well. One was a softspoken boy from Alabama who liked tacos; another was an angelic Catholic girl from eastern Pennsylvania who just wanted a souvenir rosary from the Vatican “‘Bring me something holy, Angela!” my mom said. ‘Just bring me something holy!’” Another was a tall, dark-skinned girl from Indiana I’d never even met. “I never thought I’d be traveling to Rome at age 19,” she gushed. I was skeptical.

These weren’t exactly the cool, glamorous traveling companions I’d dreamed of. They were as naive as I was, if not moreso. But as it turned out, they were right for me. We helped each other read maps, puzzle out signages and agree to skip the overpriced tour of the Colosseum. We listened to our shoes tap on the polished floors of ancient churches, and had our pictures taken with some guys dressed up in cheesy gladiator costumes. I was the best at languages, so when a woman asked about the book I was reading on the train, I spoke for all of us. No parliamo italiano, I said with an abashed grin. My friends thanked me. And I didn’t die.

 

  1. How to travel cheaply. Of course, as tourists, none of us had planned to eat anyplace except a restaurant. Certainly our parents never did while traveling. Except this was Thanksgiving, so if we wanted anything close to a traditional American turkey day, we quickly realized we’d have no choice but to –gulp–shop locally. I’d never been so terrified. What if I didn’t understand what something was? Would I have to ask?. For someone clinging to her sweaty phrasebook like a deflating raft, and with crippling shyness around people I didn’t know, this was genuinely terrifying.

Tiptoeing into the store, we didn’t find a big frozen Butterball–none of us knew how to cook it anyway, but we did find some turkey breasts at the deli, and my friend said she thought the Italians eat potatoes. (Gnocchi, right? Right?) And pasta was just as starchy as pumpkin and sweet potatoes, so that was a good stand-in. Cranberry was out of the question, and we didn’t have the first clue about how to make stuffing. All in all, we only had maybe one or two of the Thanksgiving trappings. My stomach started to sink. Homesickness was creeping in. But I stuck my chin out.

 

  1. How to feel at home anywhere. We were all ready to leave the store, when I turned around and realized my companions weren’t with me. Then I heard sweet little Angela’s voice behind me at the deli counter. She spoke clearly, loudly enough for the entire store to hear. “Formaggio?” Silence, for two, three seconds. Then the guy laughed and handed her a huge hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and we skedaddled back to the hostel. Alive.

Back at our crowded hostel near Termini Station, we Americans took over the kitchen and whipped up our sad little turkey breasts–which, warmed up and coated with, what else, tomato sauce–didn’t look so sad anymore. We forgot the butter, so our potatoes weren’t exactly creamy, and the utensils seemed to date to Tiberius’ reign.  And of course we made pasta, because Italy! Angela and Cody, of course, insisted on holding hands and saying grace. The kitchen started to feel a little warmer; the city not so dark and foreign. These people–these strange, stupid American kids–started to look, well, nice.

 

  1. How to be thankful. We rejoined all 12 or so of the rest of our hostel companions–two backpacking Serbians, a group of English chavs, and that one Irish guy who shows up hammered at every hostel on Earth—-and instead of trying to dazzle each other by naming all the exotic locales to which we’d traveled, we played parlor games. And then we actually talked. To strangers. Who didn’t hate us, even though we’d appropriated the entire kitchen for the past three hours and probably didn’t clean it all that well. This seemed to be the biggest miracle at all.

Up till then, all I’d wanted was to get out of this alive. But that Thanksgiving, something changed. I was thankful. After all, not everybody gets to go to Rome at 19. Not everyone gets to travel at all. Not everyone has a family waiting for them across the ocean when they’re broke and weary and ready to go home for Christmas. Not everyone has that moment where they realize for the first time that this isn’t a fluke. That I didn’t have to be a terrified tourist. That I could be smart, That I could be brave, that I could be wise. That I could be a traveler.

 

5 reasons you should attend a DIY sailing meetup in Rio Dulce Guatemala

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1. Whether you’re already a pirate or just want to be one, you might just learn something! There are workshops on everything from knots to engines to navigation to what it’s like to be female captain (and maybe a writing workshop taught by yours truly?)

2. You don’t have to have a boat (although you can!) There are boats going from ports all over North America, and most of them are looking for crew (no experience necessary). And I have corresponded with most of them, and they are awesome people who are willing to share what they know about sailing, travel and living aboard their boats.

3. Rio Dulce, Guatemala, is one of the most beautiful and legendary boat cruising spots, not only in Central America, but the world. It’s complete with waterfalls, beaches, toucans, and monkeys swinging through the trees. The local Guatemalans welcome the meetup crew every year with open arms, so you’ll get to experience local hospitality as you hang out with the sailors.

4. It’s free! These are boatpunks, which doesn’t mean they live on boats and spend all their time listening to the Ramones and Elvis Costello–althought they might do that. It means they have a DIY aesthetic and a collective mindset. Which means everybody pays what they can pay, whether that be $$$ or good, honest work.

5. Fun. We’re sailors, so we party (duh). If all else fails, I’ll be there! And let’s face it, nobody is ever bored when I’m around. (Possibly delusion thinking alert.) In any case, I want to meet Princess of Pirates readers in person, and now’s as good a chance as any to do it!

Convinced? I thought you would be. Find out more on my blog post or from the Salt Assault site, which has lists of boats going, a workshop calendar, message boards where crew and boats can find each other, and more!

Sharing is caring! Vote and SHARE #8 in the Time Out New York blogging contest!

Hey guys, I know a lot of you have already voted for my post, #8 in the Time Out New York blogging contest, but you can help me out even more by just taking a second to press the SHARE button on my post and getting it out to as many social media platforms as possible!

Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, Google+–everything will help! The people getting the most votes are the ones with the biggest online presence, and I know at least one of the other entrants already has a huge San Francisco-based food blog. Let’s face it, she doesn’t need this opportunity nearly as much as I do! But I need your help to get there!

Remember, vote and SHARE Post #8! Thanks so much for your support; I can’t do this without you! Again, that link.

Baggywrinkles Now LIVE on Kickstarter!

The pirate princess sisterhood is small, but Lucy Bellwood definitely has a lifetime membership! I first discovered her work several years ago when my tall ship dreams were still dreams and was instantly obsessed. Now’s our chance to help her work reach more souls by supporting her Kickstarter! Check it out!

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The day is finally here, friends! Baggywrinkles: A Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea just launched on Kickstarter and it’s time to get this sucker made. If you’re already on board and you wanna get straight to the business, here’s the page!

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Wait, what’s a Baggywrinkle?

A Baggywrinkle is furry, cylindrical device used for preventing chafing between a ship’s sails and the surrounding lines. It’s one of the most distinctive features of a ship’s rigging, made all the more ludicrous by the fact that you spend a LOT of time explaining what it is to visitors—a hard sell when it’s got such a weird name.

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But it’s also the namesake of my educational, autobiographical series about the time I’ve spent sailing on 18th-century tall ships!

So, you’re making a book?

THAT’S RIGHT. Baggywrinkles has been running in little micro-installments for five years now. With 90 pages of content under…

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Hey, this pirate stuff is serious business

Hey, this pirate stuff is serious business

Did you know that to a pirate, chocolate could be more valuable than gold? Not surprising, especially if you’re a girl (obvious joke). From July 4-7, if you’re in the New York area, head to Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow for the “Pirates of the Hudson” interactive exhibit.