High Time to Head to Sea

New York office tight

Dreams of wind and water quenched

One year passes, blink.

The Billow & The Blast, from Fair Isle series

The Billow & The Blast, from Fair Isle series

In 1995 I was working temp jobs in Manhattan to pay the rent on my apartment in Jersey City. I had been working for a start up information company called RestQuest. We sold weekend getaway information to New Yorkers....and then the worldwide web happened.


Post RestQuest, I was taking on jobs here and there trying to determine just what I wanted life to feel like in the Big Apple. I did costuming for a TV commercial and wrangled ants for an independent film. I was performing a little, but that didn't pay, so I finally took a family friend's offer to work for his temp agency. Truthfully, I remember little of the work now, but I do remember the cubicle and the dull rhythm of my days.


It was about then I picked up my copy of A Maiden Voyage, by Tania Aebi, and reread her tale of adventure : a seventeen year old girl is given the choice between finishing high school, or sailing around the world, alone. Obviously, she opts for the latter. I was inspired, terrified, jealous, clueless, but ready. I spoke to my dad soon after rereading Tania's book. "I have signed up to sail aboard a tall ship called the HMS Rose, during a week in August in Nova Scotia," says he. "Good, I am coming with you," says I.


One week turned into two, then two months with a few weeks in between during which I left Jersey City, Manhattan and the unanswered question of how to make a life in the Big Apple; the two months during the fall of 1995 led to 9 months aboard in 1996, two transatlantics, a romance, a total eclipse of the moon, fast friends, glorious nights, spectacular days, bruised limbs, sore muscles, endless work "parties," 10,900 bottles of Sam Adams beer, whale sightings, dolphin escorts, the Cliffs of Dover, The Bay of Biscay, the Trade Winds, and every variation on wind, wet, salt-encrusted you can imagine. Like a turtle we took our home with us from port to port, mostly making friends; we managed to return all souls home alive. 


It was, an adventure of a lifetime.


It was an adventure that re-shaped my view of myself, the world, my future, and has continued to shape my choices to this day. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and fell into a world I hadn't known could be mine. The Haiku at the start of this entry was my contribution to the competition held sometime between Las Palmas and Barbados...I think. In truth, by then I was probably ready to leave to confines of my soggy bunk and begin my life ashore again, but, as in any opportunity we have to stop, reflect and acknowledge our own change, it felt like the time had flown by. That little poem was my graduation address.


There are few opportunities to go to sea on a tall ship anymore, but they have not all disappeared. This summer, a replica of General Lafayette's ship Hermoine is visiting ports along the Eastern Seaboard, here, in the US. She will be joined by other tall ships, notably the Oliver Hazard Perry (OHP) of Newport, Rhode Island. The OHP is making her own maiden voyage this spring, and come August, I hope to spend some time aboard with my goddaughter, Elinore, the captain's daughter.


I urge you to keep your eyes on the horizon this summer if you find yourself near the East Coast. Click on these links below to learn more. Better yet?! Cast off your dock lines and head to sea!






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