we’re going on an adventure

Well, I’ve made my travel plan for 2024, and it’s a zinger.

Next July I will spend two weeks as guest crew on the Phoenix of Dell Quay, a beautiful replica 18th century brig based in Cornwall.

Tall Ship Phoenix with sails unfurled
Tall Ship Phoenix, courtesy of woodenships.co.uk

When I booked a week on the schooner Blue Clipper in 2022, I wondered if that week would scratch the sailing itch once and for all, or if it would feed an escalating obsession. Well, friends, it was the latter. After a week of sailing around the Inner Hebrides, periodically hauling on a halyard line or sketching puffins, I disembarked more ridiculously infatuated than when I started.

This time around I’ll be embarking at Falmouth in Cornwall, from whence the Phoenix will make its way across the English Channel to Brittany for the Brest Maritime Festival (les Fêtes Maritimes de Brest). We’ll participate in a parade of sail to Douarnenez for more festival, and then return to Falmouth. There will be live music, reenactments, and fireworks.

The imagery from the last festival is just jaw-droppingly amazing.

Brest 2016, courtesy of cnews.fr


My perception of my own life has gone through a drastic turnabout since I made this commitment. Like many of us, I tend to feel overwhelmed by responsibilities to the point where my world shrinks. It takes a lot to keep this little boat afloat –the boat of my life, that is. My mortgage, my job that pays the mortgage, my family’s wellbeing, my dog’s peace of mind, my own physical and mental health. So many of my dreams are on hold until I retire more than a decade from now and – if I’m lucky – “have time” to explore, to write, to be an artist, to engage in slow travel by rail and sail. Who knows if I’ll still be alive and able to travel when that time finally comes. Who knows what the world will be like.

Now, with this berth set aside in my name, I feel almost embarrassed by my good fortune. What unmitigated glory, that I get to have this!

There have been few enough moments in my life when I’ve felt absolute clarity about where I should be, and this is blessedly one of them.

The days pass happily with me wherever my ship sails.

Joshua Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World