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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!

Originally posted on Lucy Bellwood: Comics, Illustration, Boats:

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!


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.


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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It happened to me (oh boy, did it!)

Mermaid returns to sea.

My adventure to the Netherlands (with stopovers in Iceland and Belgium) is in the record books, and I’m preparing a longer blog post about what I found in The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and beyond. Word gets around remarkably fast in a tiny country, so I met up with no less than 5 former shipmates (3 more than I expected)! At last, I could drink too much, surround myself with people who “get it,” and shamelessly try to recapture the time in my life when I was most happy, and most at peace, while simultaneously feeling like my world might fall apart any moment.

I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either.

Anyway, upon my arrival home, I found that the article I wrote for XOJane’s It Happened to Me section, based on some incidents from my book, is now live, so I invite you to check it out. Consider it a sexy little taste of the sexiest parts of my book–eet smakelijk, as they say in Holland.

I’m never leaving home again! The perils of the cautious adventurer

cropped pic free people

Home sweet home.

Just kidding. I think anybody who’s had an exhausting/depleting/demoralizing/expensive/unforeseen/confusing time while traveling, has had this thought. When I made it home from my sailing trip, I had missed two flights, gotten stranded in the Azores, been rerouted to Lisbon (this was a good thing in “Casablanca,” but it wasn’t for me) and exchanged what I thought would be a cozy hotel room in Boston for a hard airport floor in Toronto.

I think I slept for a week when I finally made it home, 2 days later than I was originally supposed to.

But the thing about pirates is that they go where the wind–and the treasure–takes them.

So that’s why today I’m head to the Netherlands, to reunite with some of the kindest, most generous, and most entertaining people I’ve ever known–my fellow sailors, and to see the place that gave birth to the ship I spent two months on, and maybe see what that Dutch maritime tradition is all about. I’ll be staying with Oh Captain, My Captain up north in Groningen for a few days, then going down to Amsterdam to stay with another former shipmate (one of the Estrogen Triad), to check out Anne Frank’s hideout; the Rijksmuseum; and hopefully some other things I’ve read about but never experienced (there’s a lot of those, but someday, I’ll check them all off my list).

And believe it or not, I love adventure. But I’m also an ENTJ, which means every one of “spontaneous adventures” have to be planned out two years in advance.

But that’s the thing about travel–the more you do, the more you want to do, and the more people invite you to do.

And I’m going to do it all–or attempt to do it–while working. That’s the good thing about NOT being on a ship, is that I won’t have to cut all earthly ties with the world for two months, and I won’t have to start from Square One when I get back. Of course, there’s a chance I could miss out on opportunities, or my computer could break down and I’ll go out of touch unexpectedly and make my editors mad.

I’m terrified, of course. I was born afraid, and I probably always will be.

And I don’t have a return ticket yet, and my parents don’t want me to go, and my dog will miss me.

Naturally, I’ve been drinking since 11:30.

I’m never leaving home again.

The effortless grace and precision…of advertising

Recently, I saw press release from Star Clippers, a company I follow with some interest, given that its owner, Mikael Krafft, has managed to commodify tall ships and turn them into a viable tourist business. They already have a fleet of three, one of which, the Royal Clipper, already holds the distinction of being the largest five-masted ship in the world. Now they’re building one that’s even bigger, complete with 300 staterooms, a watersports complex and a tropical bar for “evening entertainment” that we can assume goes beyond some drunk dude strumming “Sloop John B” on the guitar.

New Building No. 4, as it’s currently being termed.

One thing, though, really gets me about Star Clippers. One of their selling points in the advertising literature to potential passengers is that they can watch the “perfectly harmonious” crew working together in the “effortless grace and precision” that you can only witness in the “timeless art” of tall ship sailing.

[Pardon me for a second.]


The most recent tall ship I sailed on dates back from the early part of the century, when it was a working cargo ship. From the outside, it’s pretty much a hunk of junk. The much-nicer interior has been completely redone, but in an old style. Someone owns it, of course; I think a couple of Dutch businessmen. But it’s more a floating museum than anything; a traveling token of history. People do pay to sail on it, but whatever cash they fork over could never, ever equal the experience they’re getting. Most importantly, onboard, no one’s a passenger. There’s guest crew and professional crew, but we’re all crew. You steer, you haul, you climb. You sail. There’s no science or art about it. Nothing exact, anyway. There are people getting hit in the head by wooden blocks, sails ripping apart, engines malfunctioning, toilets backing up and overflowing, paint cans blowing over and dripping all over the deck. Tacking (sailing into the wind) is such a labored ordeal you have to try it three times to get it right. Believe me, for lack of a better term, you see how the sausage is made.

In fact, if you tried to describe to a professional sailor that anything about what he or she does is “graceful” or “precise,” they’d just laugh in your face. An actual sailor I knew well, when I was frustrated with everybody on board telling me what do, assured me “Most of the guys on this ship don’t know shit about sailing. And neither do we.” (Meaning the professional crew, of course). I felt better after that. Because the fact is, you can sail for decades, but you’re always learning, and there’s always more to learn. That’s the sea.

It makes me kind of sad that the passengers on Star Clippers may debark at their destination and without ever really understanding that.

Meanwhile, some guy in Florida is also building the world’s largest superyacht, one that includes space for two helicopters and your own private submarine (which you have to provide yourself). He’s says $750 million is a “good negotiating point.” (LOL.) There’s room for 50 passengers and 100 crew–huh?

Artist’s rendering, apparently.

When we were in the Azores, walking back to our ship from the pub (you can guess what that means), “the boys,” i.e. the permanent crew, and I were pointing and laughing at the “yachties” who had anchored in nearby slips. One of them stole someone’s expensive sneakers sitting on deck and hurled them over the seawall.

It was almost graceful.

Mostly depressing book update–enjoy!

So I signed a contract to publish my book. It’s a memoir, and it’s going to be called “Princess of Pirates: Or, How I Ran Away to Sea.” If you read this blog regularly, you know that. If you didn’t, you do now. If you remember the post from a year ago announcing the book, you may even be wondering, “What is the freakin’ holdup with that damn book?!”

My editor, Brenda Knight, resigned today, citing, I think, “irreconcilable differences” with the new management. Start Publishing, which bought my publisher, Cleis Press/Viva Editions, a few months ago, is taking over, and will more than likely have to begin the process of hiring another editor. Heaven only knows how long that will take, and there was already a backlog of several manuscripts waiting to be edited when Brenda resigned, mine among them.

Obviously I want them to take their time and find as good an editor as possible. I’m a part-­time editor myself, and I know a good editor can take a so-­so manuscript and make it so good you want to cram it down your throat. (See, a good editor would have made me change that line.)

But even prior to Brenda’s leaving, there was a huge publication delay as they worked through the sale, and that is pretty much why I stopped blogging temporarily. My wonderful agent Anna, whom I love in a way beyond all human comprehension, recommended I blog anyway. She said I can build excitement about the book’s release. So here I am. Meanwhile, Anna’s taken care of everything for me, from frantic emails to calling my (now former) editor to repeatedly stroking my pathetic and yet nevertheless strangely stroke-­receptive ego.

When I left New York, I was broke and despondent and pretty much felt like a failure. My only consolation was that moving back in with my parents would allow me to save the money I needed to take this epic sailing voyage and write a book about it­­money I never would have been able to save while living in New York. That part actually went off without much of hitch (except when I missed my flight home from the Azores, but that’s a blog post for another day).

You know what happens next. I made the proposal, went to sea, came back, and wrote the book. My agent and my editor couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. I figured everything else would fall into place if I could just get that one book under my belt. So I waited. One month turned into two, then three, then six, then nine. My editor still hadn’t read the book, and now it looks like she never will. I’m still underemployed. I always figured I could look for a “real job” after the book came out, and that having a book might give me a leg up in doing so.

But now, here I am, still no book, still no release date, and still stuck in the unenviable position of still having to figure out the entire rest of my life­­where I’m going to live, what I’m going to do, how to stave off the inevitable day when parents have to heave me and all my meager belongings out the door. (Hint: win a lawnmower in a Shop Your Way sweepstakes and give it to them. It’s the best idea I’ve come up with yet). And now-­­bonus!­­-not even the reassurance of an editor to tell me this all-­important step will ever take place.

I always knew a published book would be the first step toward catapulting me into that mythical upper echelon of writers, the ones that seem able to make a living while still having time to travel the world. I don’t know precisely how that upper echelon works; or whether anything I’ve done or will do will be enough to put me in it. I don’t need to sell 200 million copies. I really don’t.

I just want to be able to make a living doing what I do best. I know there are many variations of that, and I’m willing to consider all of them. I’m not afraid of hard work, or more work, or having to have patience.

Still, having a book would help. At least it would make me legitimate in the eyes of most people who counted. I thought it would help me not feel like a fraud when I tell people I wrote a book. (“Oh, cool! When is it coming out?” “I, uh, don’t know.” *Slinks off*)

And then today, the person I was counting on to help usher me through those gates is no longer in the ushering business. (Now she’s working with Blink-­182. But I guess they need her more than I do, right?)

So where does that leave us? Essentially, at the exact same place I was when I posted more than year ago. I guess the only difference is that the book, this time, is written.

(In case anyone was wondering, yes, I am working on another book. A novel this time. I haven’t had a lot of time to work on it lately, but I hope to finish it before the end of the year. So I got that going for me, I guess?)

So, anyway, good news, everybody! Get excited! My book will be out…sometime. Probably. And after that, maybe my life can begin.

(Also, in other news, Princess of Pirates has a Twitter account! And it’s totally different from my regular Twitter account! You’ll have to check it out to see exactly what I mean.)

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 info@oosterschelde.nl with your name, address and telephone number.

Christian Siriano dresses a pirate fairy


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.


Clearly, you can’t beat a corset.

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