Salty Superstitions

superstitionSailors are a superstitious bunch. I suppose that back in the day, before SOLAS and modern technology, sailing was risky. If spitting in the ocean before setting sail brought luck, or nailing a horseshoe to the mast helped turn away storms, I would have done both.

One well known superstition is the belief that leaving port on a Friday brings bad luck. We obviously didn’t get that memo, as Diamant sails a Friday to Thursday rotation. Maybe her crew offsets the potential bad luck by throwing coins in the ocean–a small toll paid to the sea god Neptune for a safe voyage.

Whistling in the wheelhouse. Bad luck. Rats leaving a ship. Bad luck – although I beg to differ. Pouring wine on the deck before setting sail. Good luck. Again, I disagree.

If you threw a cat overboard, it was said that a storm or very bad luck would follow. I suspect that PETA started that particular rumor. Why would you throw a cat overboard, when cats are supposed to be good luck? Bananas in a boat. Bad luck. A shark following the ship was a sign of inevitable death — sure, if you fell in.

A figurehead of a naked woman perched on the bow of a ship was said to calm the seas, while her eyes would guide you safely home. Sailors also believed that a naked woman on board would bring good luck, although I was always happiest with a naked man below deck. Kidding, people!

What are some of your favorite sailing superstitions?

~Shannon

The Captain of His Heart

Living on Hollywood Beach, I often encounter interesting characters and wonder if I should start my own version of the blog Humans of New York, or HONY for short. Followers of HONY know Brandon the blogger takes photos of people and asks them to share something interesting about themselves. As tempted as I’ve been, I’m not sure I could comfortably approach complete strangers and get them to open up. But, today I saw something so incredible I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. It was a sailing ship on a bicycle frame. I stopped and asked if I could take his picture and he said of course. I could tell by the way he posed he was used to having his photo taken next to his ship.

He said his name was Peter, that he was from Czechoslovakia, and that he was homeless. Then he launched into why he had built his sailing ship, and why wind energy was so much better than nuclear. He talked about quantum physics, solar power, earth vibrations, how tides affect us, and how happy he is to wake up each day. He showed me how he adjusts his sails and explained how important it is to have perfect posture, something I constantly strive for.

He turned his attention to me, cocked his head to one side, and asked me what I did. I smiled at him and told him “I live.” He reached over and rested his hand on mine, smiled as wide as the ocean, fist pumped his chest where his heart beats and said, “So do I.”

Smooth sailing Captain Peter!

~Shannon

Captain Peter

Lights….Camera….Our Island Girls are Ready for their Close-Ups!

September was spa month for our Island Girls, Diamant and Sagitta. Both ships were pampered top to bottom, from paint and varnish, to mechanical overhauls, safety equipment inspections, and new electronics. Sagitta got a fancy new stereo system, to keep those top deck dance parties lively!

The girls are looking forward to debuting their new underwater lights. Turning the lights on at night instantly transforms the surrounding waters into a mesmerizing real-life aquarium. It’s easy to pass hours standing at the rail, marveling at fish, rays, turtles, and other sea life gliding around the ship.

Sagitta and Diamant are currently in Grenada, gearing up for their Explorer Cruises on October 4. Diamant will meander on the breezes from Grenada to St Lucia and back again, accompanied by big sister Sagitta for the first half of the trip. After bidding each other farewell in St Lucia, Sagitta will continue northwards to her winter base in St Maarten.

Our Island Girls are renewed, revitalized, and looking glamorous for the upcoming winter season. They look forward to seeing you down island!

Island Windjammers Fleet at Twilight

When the Boss is Away… She Plays

Quality ControlAn important part of any product is making sure that it is the best that it can be. Those of us on the U.S. team at Island Windjammers are called upon now and then to man up, do our duty, and head to the Caribbean for a cruise. As the saying goes, tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

Two weeks ago I packed (lightly, of course, just like we tell our guests! OK, maybe not as lightly as I could have) and headed down to Grenada for a week on Diamant. My last sail on her was 18 months ago. Sagitta came along shortly after that, and like a new baby, she demanded a lot of attention for a while.

Boarding day was like coming home. The familiar, smiling faces of crewmembers wrapped me in warmth and welcomed me aboard. Several of the guys have been on Diamant since her very first cruise with IWJ: Brandon, Aubrey, Marlon and Steelo, (Steelo was on vacation for this trip). Newer crewmembers Captain Andell, Chef Barney, and deckhand Keil completed an amazing team.

The week was better than perfect. My shipmates were friendly, fun, and all around great sailing buddies (shout out to Scott, Lauren, Chance, Jane-Ann, Jim, Brandon, Amy, Nancy, Kirsty, and Jeff). The weather cooperated beautifully, with calm seas and just a sprinkle or two of rain during the week.

Grenada and the Grenadines are as enchanting as ever. Hypnotic turquoise seas, breezes sighing through the sails, sunlit sparkles dancing off the water as Diamant silently cut through the gentle waves under sail power alone…..There simply is nothing else like it.

Once again, I was reminded of what we at Island Windjammers are working for every day: to make sure that this life changing, soul enriching, joyous experience can belong to anyone.

~ Liz

Go Ahead and Kiss Her

Sagitta sailing past NevisI like ships. One of my most memorable moments was kissing the hull of Jacque Cousteau’s Calypso when she was docked on the Miami River. I was in a state of absolute swoon, mind consumed with thoughts of skinny French men wearing tiny Speedos and knit caps. They sailed the oceans, dove the depths, and taught us about the planet and conservation, long before it was cool and hip.

Calypso was not the first or the last to steal my heart. Along the way, I learned that ships are much like people. Tugboats are tough…yachts smell like money…tramp steamers make us think of distant foreign ports. We wonder where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, and who they’ve met along the way.

Take the Island Windjammers fleet: Diamant, French for diamond; is sleek, elegant, and sophisticated. Sagitta, or little arrow, was named for a constellation in the Milky Way. You would think she would be happier sailing between the moon and stars, yet she’s down to earth and flirty!

To some, ships are inanimate objects. To those of us who have loved, and sometimes lost, they’re living, breathing, feeling things.

The next time you find yourself falling in love with a ship, go ahead — lean over and kiss her.

If you listen closely, you’ll hear her sigh.

~ Shannon

I Say a Little Prayer For You

prayer-for-you“I want to be saved,” she said in a sweet little voice. Whoa! Saved? Not exactly what you expect to hear on the other end of the line when answering reservation calls. Sure, sailing can be a life altering experience, soul cleansing and spirit lifting. But asking to be saved is a tall order, even for us.

Turns out, our toll free number is just one digit off of Billy Graham’s telephone ministry. They run TV spots on Wednesdays and Saturday evenings, which generates a flurry of misdialed phone calls from people looking for salvation and prayer.

How do you tell someone looking for comfort that they dialed the wrong number? You do it with love in your heart and you do it gently. And you hope that they find the comfort that they’re looking for.

~Shannon

You. Me. Us.

Square-SailsNo pressure, I thought, as I stared at the perfect white space waiting to be filled. Like a freshening breeze filling a sail, it was left to me to breathe life into our new blog.

It got me to thinking about Island Windjammers, and how we connect to you. And then…it hit me like a deck cleat against an unsuspecting toe! Nothing could be easier, because we’re all here for the same reasons.

We love tall ships, islands, and palm trees.

We like to wear flip-flops in the winter, even if we live in Ohio and it’s freezing.

We want to wake up each day to a new island surprise.

We need to feel the warmth of a teak deck beneath our feet, and to fill our lungs with ocean breezes.

We long to lie on a beach all day, sipping a cold one and letting our minds wander.

We yearn to sail… to end each day leaning against the rail, watching as the sun slips away, and the moon rises in her place.

We close our eyes, and wish upon a blanket of stars for the promise of more tomorrows.

So you see, we’re very much alike. When you’re between cruises, and feeling a little melancholy for an Island Girl, stop by and get your windjammer fix. Together, we’ll be cyber sailors in the blogosphere!

– Shannon