Wherever we want to go, we go.That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and sails. That’s what a ship needs. Not what a ship is.

BlackPearlWhat the Black Pearl really is…is freedom.

~~ Jack Sparrow

 I’ve wanted to sail since the day I was born.

 Maybe I was a sailor in a past life.   

I only remember being a little girl and seeing all those films with huge ships, their masts reaching high into the air and  what looked like a gazillion sails, all full, driving the bow of the boat through the pounding sea.

Using nothing but the wind.tall ship wallpapers

 I also remember squinting at the tv, wondering, how in the world do they make that ship do that?

Then there were the news reports of  refugees sailing all the way to Florida on a few boards nailed together with a box of food and water and a bed sheet on a stick.  I saw that and thought, how in the world could anybody do that?

You’ll be noticin’ a pattern to my questions.

 In  2003,  Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley brought the romance of tall ships back to the screen in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.   

It’s one of the best soundtracks ever.



 Flash forward to now.Sailing class May 2014-12 smaller

Apparently, modern sailors are a friendly lot.  Around here, a bunch of them volunteer their boats each year, they spend their time, and they furnish the hospitality (sailors like to eat and drink, I’m observing) to offer a community education class in the town near me.  For $50 and the gas to drive up to the lake, I can have four weekends of sailing lessons.

 So I’m learning to sail.

I know y’all can’t see the big grin on my face, but this is damn near the most fun thing I have ever done in my whole life.

I know.  Y’all who live on the coast are thinkin’ “what’s the big deal?”

Well…I have to drive aboutSailing class May 2014-9 smaller ten hours to get to an ocean.  The “Kentucky Better Boating” class I took in 8th grade really only talked about motor boats, cuz they assumed anybody who knew what sailcloth was would not be livin’ in a landlocked state.  Just sayin’.

 For the past two weeks I’ve sailed in an O’Day 25.   It’s an awesome little, 40-year-old,  25-foot cruising boat, with a cabin I can stand up in (I’m short.) 

On Saturday I was part of a crew for a sailboat race.

Okay that sounds WAY more advanced than it really was.  It was a baby race for beginners, and  basically I did what I was told, learned a whole bunch, and understood I have a whole bunch MORE to learn.

Yeah, I’ve got a character in a book who sails.  He walked on stage ten years ago in the middle of another book and announced that he would be my favorite hero ever.  That’s how I found this group of sailors who run the class–trying to figure out who this guy was.  But you know what?  I think maybe that character is just an offshoot of me.  He sails because I want to sail.

That’s me up there on the left at the bow of the boat, helping to rig the drifter–the beautiful blue and orange sail you see in the photo

 There wasn’t much wind. We might have gone 1.5 miles per hour.  But it was exciting the whole way.

And I’m learning the same skills that  Juan Sebastian Del Cano used in the first recorded circumnavigation of Earth.

Yes, you’re right.  I have no idea how those tall ships manage all those sails, or how they manage to survive in stormy seas.  I’m still scared to death of the ocean, and don’t know how I’ll manage to overcome that if I get the chance to sail offshore.

But I’ve at least learned windward and leeward, the points of sail, and how to  (theoretically) make a sailboat go the way I want. Sort of.  Sometimes.  If the wind cooperates.

One step at a time.


I’ve got a fun gift for one commenter.  It’s a dream journal.  The quote on the front is by Eleanor Roosevelt and it says, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.Sailing class May 2014-2 smaller

 So what about you, Bandits and Buddies?  Have you ever been fascinated by the sea?

What movies have you seen that involved tall ships?

What’s your favorite Pirates of the Caribbean movie?

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Is it ice skating or steeplechase, rock climbing or cliff diving, swimming with dolphins or digging for ruins?     And…have you tried it yet?

What’s on your bucket list?

Have you ever been sailing?

Original photos in this blog copyright May 17, 2014 by  Steve Allen Doyle, All rights reserved.  No use without permission.Tall ship photos–Wikipedia.

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  • Jane says:

    Hello Cassondra,
    I was just reading about the mystery of what happened to the Mary Celeste. I’ve always been fascinated about maritime explorations and of course pirates. I loved the first Pirates of Caribbean movie. It was the best one of the bunch. Digging for ruins is at the top of my list.

    • Cassondra says:

      Hi Jane!

      How interesting that you want to dig for ruins! In my observation, roosters are very good at digging. Just sayin.

      What area of the world interests you most?

      As to the maritime adventures, I’m with you. That said, I wonder if I died at sea at some point. I’ve spent almost no time on the ocean, but have this deep knowing that drowning at sea is not a good way to go.

  • Helen says:

    Hi Cassondra

    I love sailing but on cruise ships LOl where I get waited on 🙂 we have been on 2 cruises now and another one coming up in November to New Zealand this time and can’t wait. But those tall ships look magnificent in the water here in Australia on Australia Day they have lots of them sailing on the harbour and it looks spectacular. Good on you for doing this I am sure you are having a great time.
    The first movie in this series is my favourite
    As for a bucket list I would love to attend the RT conference one year although I am not sure if I could cope with the flight

    Have Fun

    • Cassondra says:

      Helen I’m so with you on the flight thing. The furthest I’ve flown in one go was England, and it wiped me out completely. I don’t know how Christina and Anna do it when they come over for conferences. I ‘d need a week just to recover from that flight once I got here. That said, all the readers seem to love the RT conference so I hope you get to do that soon!

      A to New Zealand, that’s amazing. I can’t wait for your report on that one. Take lots of pictures!

  • Shannon says:

    Have you ever been fascinated by the sea?

    Oh yes! I loved it in Oregon where it crashes on the rocks–so strong, so vast. The same in northern Maine. But now, I vacation in Myrtle Beach, where the waves are gentle and regular. The only danger is riptides.

    What movies have you seen that involved tall ships?

    Master and Commander — an Russell Crowe.

    The Scarlet Pimpernel–the scene where the ship arrives just in time during high tide.

    What’s your favorite Pirates of the Caribbean movie?

    The first one.

    Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Is it ice skating or steeplechase, rock climbing or cliff diving, swimming with dolphins or digging for ruins? And…have you tried it yet?

    Ice skating like the pros. I’ve done a little when I was a child.

    To ride a horse well enough to gallop.

    What’s on your bucket list?

    To see the UK again.
    To own a condo with huge windows
    To finish up seeing all 50 states–I only have Hawaii and some mid-Western state.
    To write a PDB

    Have you ever been sailing?
    Yes once on a tall ship. Of course, I’ve taken ferries, sea trips, a small boat trip in the Dover port which went out far enough that I could see Calais, tourist boat in Lake Coeur d’Alene, river cruise on James River, stopping at the mansions. You name it, I’ve tried to get out on the water.

    • Cassondra says:

      Wow, Shannon, you’ve been sailing on a tall ship?
      *Cassondra bows low* Did they let you ask questions or tell you how it worked? How many people did it take to run the thing?

      Love your bucket list, btw–seeing more states is on mine too. I have a long way to go though. I could list quite a few, but I refuse to check them off if all I’ve done is drive through on the interstate. I want to experience it a little if I can. Our friends who ride motorcycles have a really good way to “see” places like that. Too often I’m just passing through, trying to get somewhere else.

      • Shannon says:

        They had about three people whose job it was to answer questions. I think they had a crew of about 15, but it might have been more. We did the 90 minute tour, not the whole day one. If I were to do it again, I’d splurge.

  • Cassondra, what a cool project! And how wonderful that you’re getting to do something you’ve always wanted to.

    I love the sea. When I was growing up, we went to the beach every year for a week. We stayed in places with kitchenettes and cooked in, except for the one night each trip when we went down to Calabash, a fishing town, to eat.

    My dad grew up in Manila, and he loved the ocean. He taught us to go beyond the breakers and swim. I haven’t done that in a long time, though. I don’t do it when people are surf fishing, as that tends to draw sand sharks (small but, hey, sharks) close to shore, or when there are a lot of jellyfish in the water. The last couple of times we went to the beach, one or the other was always happening.

    Regardless, I love the slap of the waves on the shore, the roar of the surf in a storm, and the sheer immensity of it. It’s like having eternity roll out in front of you. I’ve never felt the need to sail on it, though, and I’ve never been out on open water. I’d like to sometime, just to see if I like it.

    As for movies, Master & Commander was the most recent. We rented the A&E Hornblower series, which was terrific (Ioan Gruffudd & very early Jamie Bamber). Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood is a great pirate movie and Flynn’s film debut.

    At one point, so long ago I barely remember, there was a TV show (maybe part of Disney, which tended to recycle things and so make older programs available) about Sir Francis Drake. I liked it and retained the image of Drake as a hero. He certainly was, but I learned as an adult that he was also expert at that favored Elizabethan pastime, feathering his nest.

    You know I like military history and have a soft spot for all things naval. We’ve been aboard the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) in Boston Harbor and the Cutty Sark at Greenwich. Nelson’s flagship, the HMS Victory, is moored at Portsmouth, and I’d like to see her sometime.

    Naval life in the age of sail intrigues me. For my birthday, I got two Osprey books about the early US Navy, one on the wars against the Barbary Pirates and one on the dashing, brilliant Stephen Decatur’s raid on Tripoli Harbor to destroy the captured USS Philadelphia, a foray Admiral Lord Nelson referred to as “the daring feat of the age.” Decatur was bumped from Lt. to Capt. as a reward. He was then 25 and became (and still is) the youngest man ever to hold a captaincy in the US Navy. Alas, but he died at age 41 from wounds sustained in a duel, a waste of an outstanding officer. I am so in sympathy with Regency heroines who tell their men dueling is stupid.

    I also have a number of Osprey books on Nelson’s navy. One of my unpublished heroes is a captain in the Royal Navy of Charles II, and another is a naval captain during the Peninsular Wars.

    This is getting really long, so let me move on. POTC movies: The first one. Loved it. Thought the second was okay. Hated, hated the ending of the third.

    I don’t really have a bucket list. If I did, seeing Westminster Hall would’ve been on it. I’d like to swim with dolphins someday. Thanks to my comparatively recent fascination with the Okefenokee, I’d like to learn to paddle a canoe so I could go places motorboats can’t. Taking karate would once have been on it, and I did try that. Loved it, in fact.

    Never been sailing though I grew up not far from a lake where people kept sailboats.

    Just as a side note, you might be interested to now that sailing figures prominently in Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Quartet. The central family, the Quinns, live on the bay and sail a lot.

    • Cassondra says:

      Nancy, so many people have told me to read that Chesapeake series. I’ve got THAT on my reading bucket list for as soon as I get a “book” reward. They seem to come few and far between these days.

      Your fascination with naval history far outclasses mine. I’m just mostly interested in the technicalities of making those ships go. The design of a boat–the balance of it–is something of an art meets science, apparently, and I’m assuming the bigger the boat, the dicier that balance might become. I seem to always end up in spots where one can never stop learning. Songwriting, music, writing, art, search & rescue, and now sailing.

      One thing is sure, I’ll never be bored.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Fun post, Cassondra. Those Tall Ships are very impressive. I had an opportunity to supervise a group of sophomores one year as we set sail from Sausalito, CA, on those ships. We sailed around the San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz. The kids loved it because they got to sail the ship!

    • Cassondra says:

      Wow, Jo, I would LOVE a trip like that! Did you learn a lot about how the ships operate?

  • Cassondra, good on you making an effort to fulfil a long-term dream! Very impressed. I’m sure you’ll love sailing. There’s nothing like being out on the water catching a swift wind. I love that there’s no motor noise either, just the flap of the sails and the creak of the boat and the slap of the waves. Oh, dear, I’m coming over all poetic. I had some friends who had a yacht and we used to sail quite often. I was pretty useless as a sailor, but I did love to sit on the bow and catch the wind as we cut through the blue water.

    • Cassondra says:

      Anna, I admit that up on that bow was my favorite place on the boat. I’m crazy about the challenge of sailing, which means I have to be in the cockpit of course, where I can read the sails and the telltales, but I could so easily become a deck lizard.

      Just sayin.

  • bn100 says:

    they’re interesting; like the pirates of the Caribbean movies

  • Becke says:

    Good for you in realizing a dream. Awesome!

    Yes, I sailed on Lake Michigan with friends. We had a great time, but it involved alcohol and I’ve never been as dehydrated in my life as that day.

    I’ve also had sailing lessons and I majorly sucked at it. Never got the hang of it.

    Bucket list? Hmm, good question. I wanted to snow ski and did that a few years back. I think I’ve covered the active things. I also want to travel everywhere and see things I haven’t seen. I always wanted to train a fourth level dressage horse- didn’t get that high.

    • Cassondra says:

      Becke, gosh, I’m impressed that you went to any level in dressage. That’s some seriously intense connections to have with a horse.

      Right now I’m no good at sailing either I think it must take time–lots of time–and practice. I’m hoping so anyhow. I want to get better because I sure do like it.

      I think I’m becoming an old fuddy duddy because I used to want to travel, but now I’m finding that when offered the chance to go or stay home, most of the time I opt for staying home. Or maybe I’m just tired. *grin*

  • Oh Cassondra,

    As lovely as sailing sounds, the reality of my life is the rocking motion would set off my motion sickness beyond belief, so I’ll just stay on the beach, watch the boats float by and work on getting some sun!!

    • Cassondra says:

      Aw, shucks. I’m sorry you get motion sick, Suz. I get that WAY more than I used to. Now the back of the car sorta makes me sick, whereas that never happened when I was younger.

      Of course, this is not the ocean, so once I get on real waves I may have more trouble, but hoping even then I’ll go through the phase and be over it.

  • Cassondra! How cool! Sailing lessons sound amazing. I’ve been on speed boats, bass boats, john boats, a fan boat into a Louisiana bayou which was A MA ZING! I’ve also been on an electric flat boat on a mountain lake in Austria. The lake had flooded a little Austrian village a hundred years before and you could see the village beneath the water. The only thing above the water was the church spire. I’ve never sailed in a tall ship, but I would love to do so.

    I’ve gone hang gliding, spelunking in a bat cave, bungee jumping and mountain climbing in the Austrian Alps. I’ve been to the Transylvanian area of Romania, which was something I had always wanted to do.

    I’ve driven on the autobahn in Germany. YIKES !!

    I want to go back to England one day and I want to revisit Germany and Salzburg.

    Right now the biggest thing on my bucket list is to become a published author!

    • Cassondra says:

      Louisa you have done some awe-inspiring things. Every time I hear your stories and get a sense of the breadth of your experience, I’m impressed.

      Just standing on a stage with an orchestra and those fabulous opera costumes would be hard to top.