As a child, I always dreamt of being a pirate, of sailing the seven seas, of cruising around tropical islands. The pirate books I read at school had me. I was too young to understand the implications of pillaging, plundering, and who-knows-what-else they used to do, but in my mind, I saw the profession of pirate as very a noble and romantic pursuit – even if the truth was something very different.
It was this shared dream that motivated my friends and I to build a raft and become the Pirates of the Danube. However, society didn’t agree and it was only a couple of weeks after setting sail that we were arrested – for no defined reason. We had travelled a couple of hundred kilometres down a river – nowhere near cruising the seven seas or exploring secluded islands – and were eager for more.
Everyone who came across us, had told us what a great idea it was and how happy they were to see our little adventure – even the police who arrested us said that it was ‘super.’ A lot of the feedback indicated that what we were doing was near impossible and that pirates (to lose the term loosely), no longer existed – with the exception of those real pirates who exist off the coast of ungoverned Somalia. But surely this couldn’t be true?
I scoured the internet and soon found other nomads who had chose to live life on the water, including one guy who built a floating island from plastic bottles and lived on it. Many others sailed the oceans all their lives. These peaceful people are the real sea gypsies, the wanderers of the oceans, the ones who choose to live life differently. I came across one such project in Norway and immediately volunteered to spend a month of my time living on a farm and building a boat.
This purely aluminium sailing boat (based upon a wooden design) has taken nearly five years to build already. Several hundred volunteers have taken part in the construction and it is one hell of an undertaking, a project like I have never seen before. When it is finished, this boat will sail around the world, cruising from one destination to another, visiting eco farms and projects across the world, sharing ideas about sustainable living. There will be a rotating crew and as far as I understand it, this impressive sail boat will spend the rest of its life upon the water, traversing the globe.
I thought sea gypsies were dead. They aren’t, I just wasn’t looking in the right place.