Shadow Captain

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

Statue of Saint Brendan the Navigator, Bantry, Ireland

Statue of Saint Brendan the Navigator, Bantry, Ireland

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, in 484 A.D.

Ring of Kerry, near St. Brendan's Birthplace of Tralee

Ring of Kerry, near St. Brendan’s Birthplace of Tralee

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.

Bog Snorkeling by G. Rud

Bog Snorkeling in Wales by G. Rud via Wikimedia Commons

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.

monk drinking wine

Monk Drinking Wine

Brendan’s identity is no secret: I share it with anyone who asks. And because he’s friends with people with names like Van Gogh’s Ear, Moribund Facekvetch, Happy Hiker, a neighborhood cat (the owner can’t use her own first name because her husband has a government security clearance) and hundreds who share the last name, “Author,” I know he is part of a lively, creative tribe that thrives despite the Facebook crackdown on “fake” profiles. In a sea of internet silliness, Brendan Wayfarer introduces a real sense of adventure, helping me enjoy the journey with a healthy spirit of imagination and fun.

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Sierra Club

© Copyright 2012 Ellen Girardeau Kempler, All rights Reserved. Written For: Gold Boat Journeys
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