finding the tall ship, then the star

View of the Isle of Mull from the deck of the Blue Clipper, 2022

My dream is to leave behind fast tourism that is heavily reliant on fossil fuels, and lean into rail and sail. It helps that I absolutely love travelling by rail and sail.

Of course it’s hard to do slow tourism when sticking to a standard two-week vacation from a day job, when you live in the USA where there’s very little passenger rail or sail to start with, and what there is is prohibitively expensive for most of us.

There are great options in Europe, though. For now, I’ll be crossing the pond by air before embarking upon maritime peregrinations.

Last year I spent one week as “guest crew” on board the Blue Clipper, a three-masted gaff-rigged schooner sailing Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. That week was absolute magic. Even life changing. While it was expensive, it was actually similar in cost to what I would have spent if I weren’t on a boat, if I were eating food even half as nice as what the ship’s cook was making for us.

Here are some sources of sail adventure bookings (I’ve only utilized Venture Sail, and they were great):

Sketching the Blue Clipper in Kentra Bay, Scotland. From here on out, I always want a beautiful tall ship anchored nearby ready to take me away to the next adventure.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
John Masefield, Sea-Fever