I tried this last year and managed to pull this text together only after my AMA was over. Now, with lessons learnt, I shall try again. If you want to try something like this, you may ask me and I can see how could I direct you further.

I had to go to bed for now. When morning time EST comes again, I shall answer to your questions like there is no tomorrow.

Pictures of the ship and some crew, check them out: http://imgur.com/a/HzJtx

Here I took part in another thread, telling why people can't go back in time to Roman age and start sailing into other continents: http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/15cd6w/if_you_were_dropped_naked_into_rome_2000_years/c7liawu

Check out also a sailing purists who does not think much of our crew, you can downvote me there: http://www.reddit.com/r/sailing/comments/15ybqk/not_sure_how_to_share_it_but_a_current_ama_from_a/

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

My story begins when I accidentally stumbled upon an old traditional sailing vessel, the T/S Hawila. I ended up as a deck man, headed towards Poland on a wooden beauty. Eventually, after abandoning my real life, I became a watch officer, in charge of people and many functions. All this happened by accident. I had no experience from the start, I had no idea. It was all just a coincidence. Which means YOU can do it too. Go find a tall ship and ask if they need traveling souls.

Our captain was a born seaman. He had some side ventures as a farmer of organic sheep. When that did not go well, he became a Physician Rescue Chopper Pilot. After a really bad weather, he destroyed his chopper when crashing into the woods with some other misfortune. His wife told him to get back to sailing, so he moved to sail ships again and has been on that road since that. He is now old, but he still loves the ship and the sea from the bottom of his heart. It is heartwarming to see such love towards the nature and that wooden vessel. He has a plaque on his quarters door: "If God would have wanted that ships would not be made of wood, forests would be full of fiberglass."

So I share some stories of my time as a Watch Officer on a beautiful sailing ship. I was also the Fire Safety Officer, due to my experience as a firefighter. The ship sailed around the baltic sea and sometimes ventured further south in the Atlantic. Most visited Harbor was Stockholm, Sweden and Karlskrona, Sweden. Both old navy harbors, too. We had different kinds of people on board. Sailing students, adventuring christian confirmation camps, atheist "free-thinkers youth camps", or prometheus camps. Business customers, charter customers, adventure clubs or re-enactors. Anything, anytime, you give the money, we give the crew. Sometimes we only had officers and other similar crews on board, if the client wanted to provide deck slaves, as an adventure or something. We would then teach these people the basic duties around the ship. Basic crewman for the ship can be trained in under 6 hours, provided they have good officers and some experienced crew members with them.

Sometimes we did maintenace and simply moved the ship from harbor to harbor in search of winter stay or cheap repairs. Then we usually had skeleton crews and simply recruited passers-by volunteers from the Harbor with shouts of "Hey wanna go to Denmark real quick? We offer lousy food, tight beds and loss of sleep!" Then we would drop them on the way back. Sometimes they flew back home from the destination, took trains or buses.

Everything takes a lot of work. Simply turning the ship 45 degrees to the port side might take 10 or more people. You do not simply turn the helm, you also adjust sails, you might need to move the booms to the other side, change sail setup etc, depending on the angle of the wind. So, when the First Officer calls for a turn, the navigator and helmsman plan it, then sail angle is decided and me, or one of the other watch officers, yell "WATCH ON DUTY, MAN YOUR POSTS, PREPARE FOR TURN OF 20 DEGREES, STARBOARD!" Then, pairs or triples take different sails, and I might give out order to "SKÅT FOKKAN", which is then repated by everyone to verify that the message went through. To "skåt" is to adjust the sail angle to the wind, no idea of its translation. Fokka is one of the sails in the front. Or to leave the harbor and hoisting the sails. You can do that with a skeleton crew of 5 people, but it will be hard work and it might take about 30 minutes, if not more. With 15 people, it takes a lot of yelling, coordination, repeated shouts, pulls and sweat, but it will be done in about 5 minutes. It is a chilling feeling to see the crew execute your orders, to see the pier moving away as the sails are climbing higher and higher while repeated shouts strike through the air. That gives me the chills.

My duties consisted of being Watch Officer C12-4, under the First Officer and I usually had around 10 people under my command. Of these, two or three would be assigned for navigational tasks while the rest would on sail, anchor, cleaning and supplemental duties. On our ship, we had three watches, A, B and C. Or, in other words, A4-8, B8-12 and C12-4. These mean that no matter AM or PM, the A WATCH is manning the ship when the clock shows 4 to 8 and etc. After this, when B watch takes over, the A watch is in "Deep Rest", meaning they can not be disturbed. When C takes charge and B goes into "Deep Rest", the A has moved into "Shallow Rest", when they can be called for demaning tasks, such as hoisting all the sails etc.

Then there are also non-watch crews, and the Boatswain is in charge of them. These are the mechanic, the cooks, the possible teachers, etc that "work" usually when they so need to, aka "office hours". These posts do not have to be manned non-stop, thus they do not belong to any watch. A Captain, First Officer and the Second Officer are in charge of the watches with a rotating schedule. Each watch also has a Watch Officer who then leads the people under him that are tasked with keeping the ship afloat and sailing to the right direction, while performing other related or non-related duties.

Approximate amount of lower crewmember 20 to 30. At any one time, there is an officer in charge of the ship, like the captain or First Officer. Then there is a helmsman who steers the ship and there is also a navigator. Preferably also radar and communications guy who hangs below deck, in his office. Then there is a set amount of crewmembers helping with sails and other tasks who are led by the Watch Officer of that particular Watch. More often than not, the First Officer, the Watch Officer, Helmsman, The navigator and the spotter hang in the rear deck while other people conduct other tasks. When the Watch ends and before people head to bed, the next Watch gets a report and mans all these posts.

The ship had extensive below-deck space. On the top floor, there was a small dining table, the kitchen, walk-in fridge, cooking tables and food storage. The lower floor had the officer quarters in to front of the ship, with tables and chairs, officers bunks for 5 officers , some computers and a chalkboard. Middle of the bottom floor had the crew hall, with two big dining tables, couple of hammocks, some computers, lifejacket storage, fireplace and chalkboards. Bunk beds for 32 people ran on the walls. Each "unit" had two beds and a storage locker. Under every pillow was a lifejacket, rescue suit and flares.

Rear compartment had boatswain and mechanic room, very small. Also, a small radar room for the radio, radar and sonar operator. Some computers too. Extreme rear had captains quarters where was a table, captains computer, his bed and etc. His private room and a double bed for him. And the only available booze on the vessel. There was also two extra beds, so when crowded, the first and the second officer slept there too.

The vessel had 3G internet coming to it and it shared it through internal wifi. Usually we only let crews on it, customers had to provide their own unless they paid for it. Everything on the ship is, I kid you not, always rated by the crew with a "Yarr-value." Something can be very Yarr or not Yarr at all. 3G on the sea is YARRRRRRRRRRRRR, however, cleaning duty is not Yarrr.

Comments: 259 • Responses: 89  • Date: 

J_c_mooncity18 karma

How old do you have to be to do this, and where the fuck do I sign Up! Also any specific requirements?

kalleerikvahakyla13 karma

We had people as young as 14 years on board with parental consent. Best way to start is finding a ship close to you, googling "Cityname Tall Ship" or "cityname traditional sailing ship" or something and then just visiting the ship, asking if they need a helping hand. Getting your foot to the door is important.

J_c_mooncity5 karma

Did they provide schooling for the really young kids, or did their parents let them spend a year missing school?

kalleerikvahakyla12 karma

T/S Gunilla, a decent sized brig, is a High School that sails around the world. During their free time, the High Schoolers study there normally, below deck.

Aboard T/S Hawila, school-aged kids never stayed for more than a month or so during the summer.

J_c_mooncity4 karma

Did you have to pay, or was it free? I'm on lake hourn, so the only tall ship we get here in my home town are coming off the great lakes.

kalleerikvahakyla6 karma

I did not pay, I received some compensation. Depends if you are willing to truly work aboard, or just visiting and wanting an adventure.

J_c_mooncity4 karma

I would work my ass off. I love sailing, but due to cutbacks all the local has been chopped. Are you from the USA or Europe?

kalleerikvahakyla4 karma

From Finland, Nordic Europe.

J_c_mooncity3 karma

Damn, the only Tall Ships that come by home are either only passing by, or are brought my the local rich Irish people for weddings or deaths. Nothing fun ever happens in Canada. Screw it, I'm moving to Norway, at least there they have stuff.

kalleerikvahakyla5 karma

Take a row boat, row into their path and beg n plead.

sailorbrendan9 karma

Don't really have a question. Just one tall ship sailor to another wishing fair winds.

stay safe out there

kalleerikvahakyla5 karma

Appreciated. What is the name of your ship?

sailorbrendan4 karma

Just got off the Flagship Niagara, and did a spell on the Pride of Baltimore II

kalleerikvahakyla4 karma

I've seen Pride of Baltimore II!

sailorbrendan3 karma

she hasn't been to your neck of the woods for a few years, or were you over here stateside?

kalleerikvahakyla5 karma

I live in Charleston. I used to live in Prince George's County MD, too.

sailorbrendan3 karma

oh, then yes... i assumed you were in europe.

kalleerikvahakyla17 karma

I am a global citizen.

sailorbrendan5 karma

fair enough

kalleerikvahakyla4 karma

Do you have an opinion on schooner vs. ketch?

annoy-nymous2 karma

The Niagra's an old ship! Is she in dry dock right now? How do you find sailing in the US? Tall ships america is only now getting their act together but still way behind European and Aussie/NZ programs in their scope. I have tall ship experience on both square rigs and schooners and would really like to get out there again.

sailorbrendan2 karma

She'sa replica old ship. Built in 1988, replica of the 1813 model. I don't think she'd dry docked right now, unless something has gone horribly wrong in the past couple weeks.

Personally, I found out about it while I was bartending. I had a regular who mentioned that she had sailed on tall ships, so I knew it existed. I eventually decided working in bars wasn't very fun, so I quit, sold most of my stuff, and went sailing. Never looked back.

Square tops'l schooners are my favorite, i think.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Funny how so many of our stories are the same way.

"So how'd you end up here, on this tall ship?"

"I just, you know, packed my shit and went, gave my job and my car, never looking back".

I think these ships have some black magic that makes people do that.

sailorbrendan2 karma

We actually shanghaid someone once. We went out drinking, made friends with the bartender, brought her back to the ship. She called her boss and quit her job from the deck.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

I recruited two lasses from a ship that was trying to overtake us on the way into Stockholm. I consider that my best.

But yeah, we convinced people to come on board in harbors too and bars. "You! You there! Do you swim?"

"umm not that good?"

"Excellent! Do you have a job? Do you want an adventure?"

We had people literally asking if they have time to go home, give the cats to a friend and grab their laptop. Then they would be running towards our ship after couple of hours and hopping on board.

sailorbrendan2 karma


good times

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Most assuredly.

annoy-nymous1 karma

While my starting adventure was more planned, we had similar experiences. We gang pressed a girl who worked in a tourism office. She came to see the ship that night, stayed on board for 6 months.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Like I mentioned here before, nothing beats good old fashioned pressing into service.

RealHonestJohn8 karma

What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
What turns you off?
What is your favorite curse word?
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
10 If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

kalleerikvahakyla13 karma

I guess this is payback for saying "AMA".

Here we go:

1: It would be a name, Mari-Erika. It is very balanced and pretty name. 2: I never liked the german "könnt", it just does not roll well. 3: Charismatic bitches who are intelligent and passionate. I like people who are hard and demanding. 4: Ignorance and not having a spine 5: Vittu, it is finnish. Basically "fuck". It is so versatile, yet striking. 6: The sound of sirens. They are coming for you, to help. 7: Chalk on a chalkboard makes me nauseous. 8: Astronaut. Hands down. 9: I have no desire to be a plumber or any other menial blue collar stuff. I dislike hard physical labor without demanding theory. 10: "You are the Assistant Chief from now on"

RealHonestJohn3 karma

Thank you

kalleerikvahakyla6 karma

Hey man, no problem. You asked me anything and I owed up to it.

busted_up_chiffarobe7 karma

Strangest thing you saw? Unexplainable phenomenon, etc?

kalleerikvahakyla18 karma

There are weird light phenomena on the sea all the time. You get used to them, but I can totally see where old mariner tales of monsters came from.

777Iamnumber44 karma

This sounds like a real interesting job. You must have been able to meet a lot of people on these travels?

kalleerikvahakyla6 karma

All kinds of people. Foreign Navies and Coast Guards were always eager to board for "routine inspection" to exhange cool stories and admire the ship. A common "problem" with such tall ships.

Also, usually when arriving to a harbor we always had a waiting crowd of passers-by and other sailors, jealous of our ship.

And salty sea dogs also heat out to the town to chase some skirt. All the time. The local police will carry you back to the ship.

777Iamnumber45 karma

The local police will carry you back to the ship.

Lost it. Anyway, how often would yall stay on land and for how long?

kalleerikvahakyla5 karma

For couple of days usually. Enough time to let everyone take a really long sleep, clean and paint the ship from outside and do maintenance on the engine rooms and sails.

We always kept a night watch at the harbors too, for thieves and trouble makers and making sure that if some crewmembers enjoyed alcohol in the harbor, they would be headed right into their bunk when returning and not touch anything or drown.

777Iamnumber43 karma

Understandable. What was the main function of the ship?

kalleerikvahakyla8 karma

To remain afloat. Whatever it took and where ever you had to go for the money, we went.

The captain owns the ship and lives it. It cost him is marriage and his house.

777Iamnumber42 karma

Very interesting. Thanks for the AMA! keep on keeping on, brother.

kalleerikvahakyla4 karma

I don't think it as big of a hit as I wished it to be. Reddit is full of land crabs.

777Iamnumber42 karma

Story of my reddit life. And yea, those bastards!

kalleerikvahakyla6 karma

I´ll take solace in my existing karma.

pluto_nash2 karma

Wait, so his wife told him to go back to the sea, but when he did and things got tough she left him? That's kind of sad.

Also, as someone who grew up completely landlocked and only discovered the sea through books, movies and television later in life, you cannot imagine how much i wish I could ditch all of the responsibilities and duties I have and just do it. Modern hum-drum life is not how humans were meant to live.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

I don't think sailing full time was either meant for humans. It has a habit of eating souls alive and not giving them back.

pluto_nash1 karma

I can't say that the media I have consumed regarding sailing has contradicted that, it seems to agree completely.

I guess I was referring more to the spirit of doing over simply existing.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Not limited to sailing, though. You can try and find something you could dedicate yourself for. I have tried this with ships, fire service and horses. It pays off but also takes time and sometimes leaves you alone.

pesky_human4 karma

Thanks for the AMA. You truly did answer everything in a real and verbose manner and you should be commended for doing so. You have me wondering if I should go get an eye patch and a bag of oranges, jump on a ship and get on the high seas. Real talk. Enjoy your adventure.

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed. The seas are there, waiting for more souls.

iStoned4 karma

Please tell me you at least got with one of those hot blondes!

kalleerikvahakyla9 karma


iStoned2 karma

Hahah I imagine those bunks weren't very comfortable...

kalleerikvahakyla7 karma

The officer bunk room was quite comfy, actually.

iStoned3 karma

This literally makes me want to go out and start sailing.

How'd you get into all of this?

kalleerikvahakyla7 karma

I stumbled on the ship randomly and they made me work.

iStoned3 karma

Sounds a tad bit like enslavement.

kalleerikvahakyla7 karma

Nothing beats good old fashioned pressing into service.

Undin4 karma

When an old ship is used in movies are there thing they get wrong all the time?

kalleerikvahakyla17 karma

They always underestimate the amount of people needed for the operation and they speed up the tasks. This is one major point.

In Pirates of the Caribbean, the ship Sparrow and Turner Commandeer, the HMS Interceptor is a type of light war ship, so called "brig". To do a basic sail that would last only one single day, so that there is no sleep, one would need about 16-20 men to operate it. One a battle complement there would be about 100 guys on board. Two men would never even be able to turn the helm by themselves on a tough turn, far less operate the ship in any meaningful way other than skipping stones from the deck and fondling their wee-wees.

kliff0rd3 karma

I sailed on a ship three times the size weight of the Lady Washington, which is the ship that played the HMS Interceptor. We're not allowed to leave the dock under motor with less than 8 people. Under sail, we aren't allowed to move an inch without 16. And really, with anything less than 24, there's no point trying to set anything other than staysails and maybe topsails. Our comfortable minimum is around 45, but something like 75 or 80 is ideal just to have a decent sail. The original vessel she's a replica of had a compliment of 198, to be able to sail and man the 32 guns at the same time.

PS: I've sailed with the captain who used to sail the Lady Washington. She's smaller than she looks in the movie, perhaps a compliment of 80. Surprisingly weatherly though, so I've heard. She's also been re-engined, so she's allowed back in California waters. It'll be nice to see her again soon.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

You might forget though that there are extras during battle complements to cover for lost gunners, so maybe my 100 was not far off!

semi_modular_mind4 karma

Hi, great pics, Thanks for doing an ama.

What were the bathing and toilet facilities and procedure's like? Spongebaths? The cold sea or did you all smell like real Pirates?

kalleerikvahakyla6 karma

The ship has a fresh water tank that gives water to the laundy machines, showers, sinks and kitchen stuff.

However, we rationed showering for the crews. There were plans of hooking sea water to the showers, instead of fresh water tank. But as of now, the tanks were limited and while we allowed customers and visitors to shower, we rationed them for the crewmembers and officers. We usually smelt fairly bad. If anchored, we recommended the cold sea for washing.

I always recommended people to bring three pairs of undies aboard. One of them would always be cleanest.

Toilets functioned like normal ones. We had three toilets aboard in small rooms. They were however big enough to stand in and do stuff. However officers kept strict watch o There was also an empty bathroom that was meant to be built into a sauna and a shower, however we never got to this when I was actively aboard.

After arriving to a harbor, showers were organized for everyone representing the ship, usually timed so that we would not waste time. We had to buy pier base, electricity, water, supplies and all that stuff and it needed us to be in a uniform and looking good.

Though, occasionally crews would just disembark and head out and about, smelling obscenely bad. They had to eat out at restaurants because they would be shood outside by the staff. After a serious storm once, we had 25 men and women full of puke, freshwater tanks always empty and conserved for drinking, half of the crew incapacitated by injury or sea sickness, limping towards harbor. When we docked, it looked like a zombie ship had arrived to the port.

semi_modular_mind3 karma

Upvote's for one pair of undies always being cleanest!

It sound's pretty civilized to be honest. I was imagining something allot less modern for some reason, like the toilet being at the back and having a hole to the sea and people having spongebaths with seawater and getting changed in front of each other.

Then again the only tall ship I've been aboard was an historical replica of HM Endeavour, the ship that discovered Australia, It was surprisingly small, probably comparable in size to the ship you were on but decidedly old-fashioned.

I traveled a small amount around Scandinavia on a motorbike and absolutely loved it, one of my favorite places in the world. Saw two majestic tall ships in Kristiansand and a group of about 20 really small sailing boats all swarming in a very tight group, shouting at each other constantly. Watched for age's waiting for them to crash, nothing. Went N then W to Oslo, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, It would have been wonderful to sail around there. Did you ever sail up some fjord's, inland?

And I see where you hatched your plans against a zombie invasion, having experienced it first hand!

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

The ship has been in fjords, but never with me, sadly.

Yeah, the ship has been modernized to cater to the customers and make long-voyages bearable.

semi_modular_mind2 karma

Shame you never got to sail the fjords, hopefully you visited some on land just to experience the awesomeness!

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

I have rode a horse near them. That counts.

ryansoper3 karma

Old Spice called. You are qualified as their next frontman.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Thank you, you can forward the call.

semi_modular_mind3 karma

YARRRRRR a true pirate doesn't go aboard those newfangled motorized contraptions, the sway of a horse remind's of a ship riding the ocean and keep's a pirate heart at ease.

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

Arrr! Aye!

jollychap3 karma

did you guys ever break out in song when everyone was working?? yo ho yo ho a pirates life for me?... this is definitely an experience i want to have sounds amazing

kalleerikvahakyla5 karma

All the time. There were some common sail-hoisting songs, but we also sang pretty much everything with some guitar backing.

RealHonestJohn3 karma

What pirate activities do you like best and why?

kalleerikvahakyla9 karma

Swinging from mast to mast while yelling "arrrr!" never seemed to get old.

Geographisto5 karma

Im sorry, you are not a pirate. You are a tall ship sailor. Embrace it. Unless you rob and rape people. or torrent. Then you are a pirate.

pluto_nash5 karma

They had 3G internet, he could have torrented from the high sea! Maybe even from a server on another ship, thus meeting the classic definition of being a pirate!

Besides if you are torrenting stuff on land, shouldn't you be more of a brigand, or highwayman as opposed to a pirate?

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

This is actually my main argument for being a pirate. "Let me see you serve the papers to A SHIP"

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

What if we did? Big time?

Geographisto1 karma

Then you sir, are scary. I have actually had a moment in my sailing experience of the crew and I hiding belowdecks clutching machetes off the coast of venezuela being followed by some dirty scowling motherfuckers with guns who were not the navy who pulled up next to our vessel and stayed there for about an hour and only left when a panama airforce plane buzzed us a couple times. You guys all look like kids having the time of your lives. Cool pictures by the way, I miss sailing.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

We had a couple of dudes onboard by the way with experience in ship boarding and counter-pirating in the Navy. One guy does that for full-time living again after leaving the tall ship.

RealHonestJohn3 karma

How many countries did you go to? Which was your favorite?

kalleerikvahakyla5 karma

Sweden and Denmark. Both had strong countries during the Age of Sail and Sweden still has many old harbors left. you can hear the old sailors from many rocks and inlets. I think they talk to us. They are pretty and have always been a soft spot for me. I can't really count all teh countries, but Poland is nice too.

RealHonestJohn3 karma

Did you ever cross the Atlantic?

kalleerikvahakyla6 karma

No. The ship was planning a trip to go over, however the good crew went their ways and it still has not done it. I am not there, neither are many others.

Its sister ship, T/S Gunilla, regularly sails from Stockholm, Sweden to Charleston, SC. When Gunilla came to my hometown last summer, I went to visit and cried like a motherfucker.

RealHonestJohn3 karma

That's tough. I had a job as an equipment operator I really liked, then some people retired and they told me I had to take a promotion to foreman or they'd assign me to this jerk they'd promote instead, so I had to take the job. I still miss that job. Like getting paid to play video games.

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

Life moves on and all good things come an end. Like said, I watch ships at the harbor and try to prevent tears.

TheNuttyIrishman3 karma

Have you ever sailed in the great lakes? Here in Milwaukee our only tall ship is the Denis Sullivan, a pretty schooner, and its damn near to get a crew spot

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

I haven't. What are you waiting though, go ask them and volunteer!

TheNuttyIrishman2 karma

Sadly I have, they always seem to be full. I really want to help on their annual fall sail down to Florida for the winter, I think it would be a wonderful experience.

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

You just have to be incessant.

lazerhawkerotica2 karma

As a sailor in America you have all of my respect. Jacktar you live up to that name.

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

I shall return this respect.

RealHonestJohn2 karma

What are some of the funny things passengers do/say?

kalleerikvahakyla6 karma

They all think that sailors are permadrunk and always get arrested on harbors.

PolkaAudio3 karma

How often ARE sailors drunk/arrested at harbors?!

kalleerikvahakyla4 karma

Not too often anymore. Sometimes at big get-togethers of tall ships there is some hard partying that leads to sailors running away with cops on their tail.

A decade ago, captains could usually swing by the local police station in the morning to pick up their crew.

HippiePete2 karma

Is the whole pirate scheme shown on movies the real deal? is most of it possible? Do you feel the need to isolate yourself for example from the internet etc? cheers!

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

I love the internet. I have my iPhone with me and when close to the coast, we get decent 3G on the ship. However, my activity is usually just reading stuff. I stay so busy that procrastinating is hard.

After I come landside after a long sail, I feel very empty and spent and I find it hard to just surf the net on my computer.

HippiePete1 karma

thanks for answering. What do you write about these days? i read you are a journalist?

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

Pretty much about anything that comes up. I help some fellow writers, I write fire rescue related articles due to my other ex-profession and some comedy, too.

HippiePete1 karma

show us some comedy!

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

Cracked.com familiar?

tehtonym1 karma

I love cracked, what have you written?!

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

I assist several non-frequent writers. Nothing big at this time, although I have some articles in the making that are definitely something I should push for. Me being lazy, ah.

tehtonym2 karma

Holy crap man, you are legitimately the most interesting man in the world.

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

Due to the nature how Cracked produces content, it is very hard to stay afloat if you don't actively push and create new content like a motherfucking maniac. It is a good thing and helps with quality, but demands a lot.

appleflop2 karma

Wow, very cool!

Did you see any weird and wonderful sea creatures?

What was the best/scariest/worst moment?

What do you do now? Are you still a pirate?

kalleerikvahakyla11 karma

All kinds of creatures always follow the ships around and you see a lot. Especially on shallow and clear waters when the ship is moving slowly so it does not scare them away. The sea is a beautiful place and full of life.

Best moments were departures or hard storms. Departing the harbor while everybody is moving around and officers are yelling orders around. Sails rise with a convincing thunderous flap and people cheer from the docks, all gathered to watch a beautiful ship leave the port.

It really flows in your veins, the grin on my face was wide when I told my men what to do. Slowly the ship starts to turn and the wind grabs the sails, plops of water when the ropes fall into the sea and men are dragging them up as fast as they can. Truly breathtaking.

I take care of a little kid and stay at home, working as a journalist.

Naynae2 karma

From being a man of the high seas to a journo, do you feel the travellers curse really hit you hard? Do you wish you were still out there, irrespective of your son?

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

I've traveled a lot besides sailing and backpacked, so yeah, it has. I don´t have a son though, although I do help take care of someone elses.

annoy-nymous3 karma

The best is when pods of dolphins ride your bow wave... you can see them play and frolic just a few feet away. On some routes/seasons the dolphins will stay with the ship for a week or more.

Flying fish and whales are common too. We try to catch them but in 5 years have never succeeded (we are terrible fishermen). Sometimes you get to anchor near strange exotic islands with very different fauna/flora and ecosystems... Those times I feel like Darwin exploring the Galapagos. Most of these islands are protected national parks with (maybe) 1 inhabitant who runs the light house. Very untouched by outside influences and species and we have to be very careful not to take any livestock/fruit/seeds on or off the island.

Best moments for me are when we sail into/out of a harbor, full sails and colors flying, blasting our horn and trailing a stream of yachts and smaller boats like an A-list celebrity and gawkers. Also all the kids that come to gawp.

Worst is really dense fog. You can't go very fast, it's very tense and you have very little time to react to hazards/buoys in the water. Very quiet and eerie. Sounds bounce around and you hear ships long before you see them.

Scariest is once during an ice storm, climbing aloft to repair a broken rope on the royal sail at least 90 feet above deck. Had to get up there fast so I wasn't harnessing in as I climbed (most crews I know of do this, you usually harness when you get to your destination to do work or if you're moving on the yards of a square rig or making a risky jump). As I reached up to grab the next stanchion with one hand, the ship moved and I ended up punching the metal with my fingers outstretched. Anyone who's stubbed frozen fingers before knows how painful that can be and I instinctively recoiled and drew my hand back. Unfortunately my leg didn't get the message and had already stepped off the rigging. Now the ship swung the other way, and I flipped backwards, dangling there by one knee upside down. Swinging back and forth in the freezing rain with only one leg curled around a rope, I remember thinking "yup, so this is when I die". I hung there for a few seconds while feeling returned to my hand, and then realized the situation wasn't that bad... I could get my other knee wedged in a different rigging, and use my abs to pull up enough to reach the rigging with my hands and flip myself around. I promptly harnessed myself in, sat in my harness and took a few breaths. Then I went up and fixed the rope.

appleflop3 karma

Thank you for the really detailed and informative answer!

It sounds fantastic. Are you still with the ship or are you back on dry land too?

Do you write a blog about your experiences? If not you should!

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

I used to write a different kind of blog, www.1001calls.blogspot.com

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Not much you can add to this.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

After encountering something similar, my watch started to order a couple people at time to wearing harness during storm time just for preparation for something similar so that no time would be wasted. We made some clever hand made pouches for the harnesses that covered all ropes, hooks and links on them so that they would not snag when walking around the vessel.

cinemachick2 karma

Have you ever been to the coast of Virginia? I've done a few pirate festivals there (as a children's craft worker) over the last 7 years, maybe I've spotted you!

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

Sadly, no. Maybe I should swing by?

cinemachick2 karma

Definitely! Try contacting HarbourFest (run by Norfolk) or Virginia Beach's Pirate Day. We would absolutely love to see you there!

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

If you would so kind as to remind me about this later on, for example to my email [email protected] I could seriously consider. I just forget stuff!

semi_modular_mind2 karma

You might want to send the e-mail as a PM or you could end up with all sorts of spam and junk e-mail :(

kalleerikvahakyla4 karma

My gmail loves me. Never had an issue with spam.

Csaxon2 karma

I'm working on becoming a Merchant Marine. I like ships. I think you made me even plan a trip on a Tallship now. Thanks for all the info.

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

You are very welcome.

tehtonym2 karma

What a great AMA! This is the kind of stuff I like to read!

How old are you?

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

I will be 23 next april.

rosencrantzisdead2 karma

How exactly do you swing from mast to mast?

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

Depending on the rigging setup, but usually there are loose ropes hanging in between that you can grab. They are technically filling a purpose, yet are loose enough for you to reach a mast from a mast.

DJPAUZE2 karma

Is speaking in pirate a pre-requisite to get on ones boat?

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Requirement is willing to operate with little sleep, work hard and be able to stand straight while listening to orders.

Lack of swimming ability is a big plus.

annoy-nymous1 karma

Wait why is lack of swimming ability a big plus? You're much more likely to die if you fall overboard and are tiny bit less useful in general...

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

It more of a joke that maintains that "A sailor who can't swim will not abandon ship too early". If you fall overboard from the ship and there is no rescue made, you are done for anyway.

olafthebent2 karma


kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

Would you know better where and what is the name of the ship?

annoy-nymous2 karma

Thanks for doing this and your ship is a beauty. You guys just left Copenhagen? Any plans to go to North America any time soon? I've sailed with a few tall ships all over (most notably Europa and Pelican) but have been largely land-bound since the Tall ship Races in Spain last year. (Were you guys there? Don't recall seeing you.

Nice pictures from the bowspirit... makes me wish I was back on the water. Fair winds friend!

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

I am not on board anymore, I haven't been for a while. I do know the ship was resting in Copenhagen for some while. And due to some difficulties with keeping the boat afloat, I think they did not take part.

annoy-nymous1 karma

Literally afloat or financially afloat? Either way that's sad... Happy to see they're out and about again.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma


not_a_lunatic1 karma

I'm considering volunteering on a sailboat. I've looked a bit around the CouchSurfing group for sailing.

My uncle told me it would be very boring.

How wrong is he?

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Depends on you a lot. CouchSurfing Group seems to be using the types of ship I have no idea about, ie the modern fiberglass boats. Never been on a one, so I would not know.

PirateKilt1 karma

How much did the gig pay?

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

Not like traditional full time job, but everything was covered.

Strifeee1 karma

"Emergency exits"

I think that's called top deck, in every direction.

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

You can get lost in the ship if things go bad. Has happened. Not everyone is a born sailor with a way around a ship.

pumahog1 karma

What are the pay and benefits like?

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

Benefits aren't necessary in the Nordic Europe where health care, unemployment and all that stuff is covered by the state.

pumahog1 karma

Well how about pay then? And do you have any idea how different it would be in the US?

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

I would not know enough to answer that. Pay ranges from small harbor allowance to volunteers to a decent, fifteen hundred, paid to the better and experienced people.

Moncole1 karma

Do you like One Piece?

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Never watched.

IAmJacksReddit3431 karma

Hee-he... Seamen.

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

You are the first one to ever make that joke.

lemonade_rage12341 karma

Did you use to sing "Do what you want for a pirate is free! You are a pirate" ?

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

Of course every stereotypical sailor song is sung until repetition makes them bleed out of your ears. Comes with the territory.

StuPac851 karma

Thanks for doing this, love reading success stories. You seem very happy with life. Stupid Question of the day... Can you swim? Joke aside (I hope you can!), my hat goes off to you! Excellent work!

kalleerikvahakyla2 karma

I do, pretty well, mainly due to my experience as a diver and living in the coast, also some surface rescue as a firefighter.

Generally one would joke though that swimming skill is detrimental for a sailor. THat way, they leave the ship too early.

StuPac851 karma

Is there anything that you don't do ha ha?!? Interesting stuff, i only asked half jokingly because i think i read somewhere that an alarming number of deckhands actually cant swim! Greetings from Birmingham Uk and all the best for the future! 'Wind'speed!

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Aboard this ship, people were taught to use rescue suits, but I don't think swimming ability ranked that high. Out in the seas, there is nowhere to swim anyway if you don't have a raft.

LooZerg1 karma

Is it true that it rains ALL the time out in open waters. Cause whenever I watch movies about boating or sailing or whatever, there's always at least one scene with a storm

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

I would need to get someone more experienced in navigation and weather to answer this and give you the thorough answer about weather phenomena, but crudely, no. Sometimes it rains, sometimes you sail two weeks without a drop of water. Rainstorms look very dramatic in real life too aboard ships and they make for a great story.

franklin95001 karma

Sorry about the scurvy.

kalleerikvahakyla3 karma

Yeah, but wasn't that bad what with all the STD's, broken limbs and lost livers.

egnaro20071 karma

did you hear about what happened to the HMS bounty during hurricane sandy? they used to keep that ship in the long island sound so i saw it frequently... have you ever been in a similar situation where you thought the ship may flounder?

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

I did not.

We once came extremely to sharp and shallow rock formations. They were literally in front of my eyes, inches away from scraping the side of the ship. A practice in dead reckoning and a communication error led to the fact that we thought we were about 200 feet more east on this tight archipelagoan inlet than we actually were.

I just happened to glance over the side and saw these rocks. I looked up scared shitless and yelled for a turn starboard (but not too tightly to avoid fish tail).

We did okay and best part was the overly calm first officer who just walked to the deck, glanced over the side too and said with a normal "yeah going starboard is propably a good idea"

Scratch_my_itch1 karma

Does the starboard side of the quarterdeck available only to the captain?

Who is the person who is in charge of the "cat" in order to mete out punishment?

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Yes, while there is not a traditional quarterdeck, the captain has his own quarters that are not accessible to anyone else. It has a queen sized bed, computers, paintings, work tables and stuff like that.

To the last one, anyone who is volunteering.

alekzander011 karma

Would you like to cross the ocean, in a Viking Longboat?

kalleerikvahakyla1 karma

Depends on the crew. There are sailors I would trust my life with. Provided they are aboard, then hell yeah.

Ptylerdactyl0 karma

How many modern day ninjas (if any) do you think you could take in a fight, should they try to board your ship? What about if you were in a tavern, landside?

kalleerikvahakyla11 karma

I can take many more ninjas on teh ship than in a tavern. This is solely based on the fact that I know my way around the ship even when blindfolded, and ships present many hazards to people who don´t know how to walk on them.

I'd say I can, realistically, take on about 6 or 7 on the ship. There is no real chances for them to rush me en-masse and they would have to come in pairs due to tight spaces.

In the tavern, a little less. Open spaces and lots of tables preventing movement.

I have learned how to sword fight during my life, but I doubt my skills will be enough to fend more than a couple of ninjas.

This, of course, is a rough estimate. Throw the weather conditions, my crews situation, availibility of weapons and etc. As default, I'd use the fire axe that is in the ships kitchen.

HippiePete3 karma

you seem to have this pretty planned out

kalleerikvahakyla6 karma

You should see my plans for a zombie invasion.

HippiePete2 karma

zombies can swim??

kalleerikvahakyla16 karma

No. Which makes my plan exceptional.