Vagabonding on the open seas

Forget about conventional roadtrips across America.There’s a new way to voyage and it does not take place on land.Vagabond Sailing is the first online community to connect people worldwide and promote relationships and sailing experiences through adventures called “seatrips,” according to its website.The organization is essentially a less conventional way of traveling and meeting new people, co-founder Robert Patrick said.”Vagabond Sailing offers travelers an alternative way to move between two destinations — it’s like taking a roadtrip on the sea with a bunch of interesting and diverse people,” Patrick said.Inspired by his adventures in Europe in 2005, Robert Patrick — a graduate of Texas State University — said that he decided to create a community that allows members to participate in decisions regarding the destinations and details of their own trips.The mission behind Vagabond Sailing is “to facilitate awesome, high-quality sailing experiences for people exploring the world, and in the process contribute to social well-being” according to its website.Launched in January, the online community currently has 150 active members, Patrick said.”The community is alive and growing, which means that people like our idea and share our vision, co-founder Marco Grasso said. “That’s what drives me.”Members of the online community can participate in the trip arrangements regardless of their background in sailing, Patrick said.”We are a sailing organization that seeks to involve people from all backgrounds, and we highlight the opportunity for novice sailors to learn,” Patrick said.”Vagabond sailing has the same features as most other popular social networking sites, [such as] the ability to create detailed profile pages and participate in forum discussions,” he said.”We advocate the creation of new friendships; our mission is to unite people from all different cultures and countries.” Patrick said.College students are at the ideal age for this kind of opportunity on a sailboat.”Students are in a period of inner-searching,” Patrick said. “They need unique learning experiences that put them outside their comfort zones.”Many UVM students agree that learning through new and challenging situations requires guidance.”I think that [the trips] could allow inexperienced sailors to learn how to sail effectively with confidence,” freshman sailing team member Colby Vavolotis said. “Sailing is a sport that is very difficult to understand without proper instruction, which makes it hard for people to pick up on their own.”For college students, budget is also a factor.”This program presents a cheaper alternative to Semester at Sea programs such as Class Afloat,” freshman sailing team member Johnny Norfleet said. “It could be a fun way to spend a summer.”The term “vagabonding” refers to a low-budget style of travel, Patrick said. By definition, vagabonding means to wander from place to place without settlement.”I chose the term vagabonding because it offsets the notion of sailing as an elitist sport,” Patrick said. “We are trying to [reduce] costs as much as possible — it’s not a glamour cruise.”Vagabond sailing does not actually own the boats that they use. The online site facilitates trip planning, including where to travel and which vessels to charter, Patrick said.Trips will run this year from the end of May through October, and spots are available for anyone to participate, Patrick said.”What begins as a group of inexperienced strangers will become a well-coordinated sailing team,” he said.