Brendan Wayfarer, Shadow Captain
Why Gold Boat Journeys Needs a Social Media Sailor
Who guides this ship
Dreaming through the seas
Turning and searching,
Whichever way you please?
Speak to me, I need to see your face,
Shadowy captain, in a darkened space.
~lyrics from Shadow Captain, by David Crosby and Craig Doerge
If you’ve ever visited the cozy seaside village of Bantry in West Cork, Ireland, you’ll probably recognize Brendan Wayfarer’s profile picture: the statue of Saint Brendan in the town’s central square. Part figurehead, part avatar, part screen name, Brendan is our social media sailor. He shares his birthdate and birthplace with the real saint, Brendan the Navigator, who was born in Tralee, Ireland, around 480 A.D.
After scanning his interests and activities on Facebook (mead making, bog snorkeling, pilgrimages and all sports teams named the Vikings), you might conclude that Brendan is a slightly quirky adventurer. In reality, Gold Boat’s mascot is the strong, silent type who never travels. His profile photo shows the St. Brendan statue in Bantry, Ireland, with a crow perched on its head. It’s true: Gold Boat’s man of mystery was sculpted in metal.
Although Brendan is a fictional character, he’s as indispensable to our voyage as a lookout in a crow’s nest. Yang to my yin, rebel to my reticence, Houdini to my handcuffs, he’s me in reverse drag, a male pen name like the ones George Eliot and other women writers once needed to get their work published. Like fiction writers everywhere, I’ve found joy in creating an eccentric character who embodies the spirit of my nautical adventure: young, Irish, male, scholar (currently working on a translation of Beowulf), irreverent (often shares literary and anti-establishment humor), and not above liking goth, steampunk, erotic, zombie and other niche fiction pages. Brendan has allowed me to indulge my inner Sherlock Holmes and travel beyond the limits of my own identity, geographical location and demographic profile. His list of over 1,000 friends includes mainly artists, writers and creative seekers, many from outside the United States.