Having a (potentially) unhealthy obsession with the sea and anything pirate themed generally, you can imagine how excited I was when I got the chance to sail on Sydney’s Southern Swan; a real 1922 Barquentine.

When I found out there was the option to climb the mast my excitment levels went into overdrive – finally a chance to reinact the infamous scene in Pirates of the Caribbean where we’re first introduced to Captain Jack Sparrow.

As I was mentally listing placed where I could get a reasonably priced pirate’s hat from, whilst simultaniously playing the Curse of the Black Pearl soundtrack in my head… the lad at the ticket office and my Dad have a different view. Between exchanging sideways glances and some of the most un-subtle eye rolling you’ve ever seen, they ‘suggested’ that – given my previous sporting failures, perhaps battling against the elements to climb a 22 foot pole wouldn’t be one of my smartest ideas.

“Pish posh.” I said, (well… sort of yelled it as I was in a piratey frame of mind. I might have said it in a sort of accent too) as I turned on my heel and went to see how my wardrobe would cater for such an event. I figured it was a game of mental strength, not physical.

As the beautiful ship moored up I had somehow turned into the cockiest person alive. A complete arsehole if I’m honest .. with various remarks like, “It’s not even that high”… “I’ve climbed bigger than that pissed!”

Sailing along was even better than I could have imagined; the sea was sparkling, I had the wind in my hair and a beer in my hand. Although, as we got further out to sea, the wind began to whip around the ship faster and faster – for me that just added to the feeling of a real voyage (plus I was wearing my boyfriends oversized hoodie and had fought people out theway to sit in the only patch of sunshine.) Relaxing with a beer, all plans of climbing the mast had gone out of my head… until of course the option reared it’s ugly head.

As the wind whipped around us and the mast swayed tentatively, nobody wanted to climb it… no-one was that stupid. And suddenly, the spotlight was on me.

So I did.

I climbed to the top in 3 minutes flat, like a fat little monkey – swinging around the crows nest like a pro. Everyone was applauding… chanting my name…

Yeah, I’m obviously lying – instead I bottled it completely. I wanted to feel like a pirate, but I didn’t want to die.

Not wanting to bow out completely, I asked if I could steer the ship. Not with my hands, the 7 year old before me had done that, with my feet… just like the captain was. I was semi-joking, so when he got down and gestured for me to get up I was shocked.

I think I did OK, only ploughing down a few ships…

Joke, I was only up there for ten minutes, not long enough to cause too much havoc. It was a consellation prize, but next time I’ll definately be standing at the top of the mast… I swear…


A Message In A Bottle

Since I was a child I have always had a strange affiliation with the sea. My love for legends about pirates, mermaids or other underwater mythical creature has stayed with me into my adult years […]

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