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  • Tall Ships America

The view from the fishbowl


By Susannah

Living on a museum is bizarre, for lack of a better word. I’ve never considered myself all that interesting, but now I’m a part of the spectacle. This attention can be rather difficult to contend with, especially considering the lack of privacy inherent on ships. Sometimes they are adorable, such as when a young girl asked one of the Denis Sullivan crew if Peter Pan was here. Other times it can be incredibly frustrating, like when an older man questioned how I would be able to do my hair on board. And then you have the visitors who come down to the ship dressed as pirates (we are NOT a pirate ship, for the last time).


While I was scrubbing the deck one morning, a visitor called out to me over the ambient hum of the crowd, “Hey, sailor! What kind of ship is this?”

“Triple masted schooner” I yelled back. I can answer that with certainty, but I think I would disappoint the tourists if they realized that I scarcely know more about sailing than they do. I just live here.


One morning, we hit a bout of foul weather and the ship was bobbing like a rubber duck atop five foot waves. I became horribly sea sick (for the first time thus far, so I’m counting it as a blessing). I clipped my harness into an eye bolt and stared out at the horizon and did my best to steer my mind away from the prospect of being sick. I could see Pride of Baltimore’s masts, where Candace was sailing, peeking out from beyond the earth’s curvature. What got me through the endeavor was remembering that I would see my friend later that same day, and that we would be able to laugh about my current uncomfortable predicament. When my nausea was imminent, I saw a motor boat scamper up to the starboard side, waving at us and taking pictures of the ship. I hadn’t the time to unclip my carabiner and move to the port side, so those people got a picture of me mid hurl. They laughed and motored away quite quickly. If you’re reading this, strange voyeurs, please send me that picture!


Sometimes I feel like an animated version of the vignettes at the Hall of Human Evolution at the Natural History Museum. Like a relic of the past, detached from modern conveniences, in a world onto itself. Tourists gawk at the sailors’ everyday activities as they do the scenes of Homo Habilis constructing the first tools known to man or Homo Erectus cooking their kill over an open flame. These activities are hopelessly mundane to us primitive humans, but attract curiosity simply because it is adverse to the world we have come to understand. Tall ships take you back in time.