My first sailing voyage was more than 40 years ago now. I’ve been sailing a lot ever since. I’ve been sailing so much that at those rare times when I get off the ship I have to learn how to stand on the solid ground properly. I find it funny how people laugh when a sailor first touches the land and his knees are shaking from the left to the right, and won’t even notice him in the same condition if he smells like two bottles of rum. Although we don’t drink on a ship. Alcohol causes dehydration, and this is the last thing a man would want when he is surrounded by nothing but salty water.

I don’t see myself as a pirate. Nor am I a traveler. Adventurer? Probably. Explorer? Against my will.

I cursed myself with the life like this when I jumped on the ship that was just leaving my harbor, the place of my childhood. I was a teenager, and I was out of my mind. Girls! They were driving me insane. I didn’t want to marry. The sailors that I’ve seen told me the stories of lands with beautiful women of all ages, dying to drown the sorrows of the lonely pirates – you just had to choose. One, two, twenty – only you decide how far you can go.

I cursed myself when I jumped on the leaving ship, and the sailors were shouting at me, and trying to throw me off. I said, “I want women! Get me there!” and they laughed at me, but let me stay. I was so proud of myself. Here I am. A real man. I’ve later learned that these people are pirates. Well, I’m still on my own, on this freaking ship, with this gang of pirates. A new life awaits.

My first friend is one of the sailors—God bless him— Bert. We were sitting on the bow of the ship one night. Bert was old and had two eyes, so he was considered to have an above-average level of wisdom. He was telling me the stories of his past, of his adventures and fights. He talked a lot. I listened. When he got his heavy body up to leave, he pointed his finger to the darkness:

Can you see? All waters are different, and not all waters welcome you.

I didn’t see it then. And trust me, there are things best left unseen.

Bert dissapeared that night. And I was afraid to ask where he went.


When living on the land, I had troubles with my sleep. I would usually stay up all night, thinking about all the kinds of things in the world. The sea helped me to get rid of this issue in a pretty much radical way. My sleeping schedule is not a result of discipline, but a product of my fear.

There are some kinds of fog your lights won’t shine through. It is strongly suggested to take a different route if you ever encounter this type of weather, but as cursed as I am, this was the day when I learned that some lighthouses move. We entered the fog.

Take me to hell if I say that I wasn’t scared to death! I couldn’t lift a finger.

What I learned from Bert is if you’re scared, you’re, first, can rest assured that you are scared for a reason, and second—always hide your eyes.

I lower my eyes. I hear some curious things knocking on the hull. They will usually leave. They will usually leave.

I hear someone singing under the ship. The singing, however, is most likely not sirens. Pray that it is not.

I pray.

I know this song. I absolutely know this song.

What is the price of a mistake a pirate can afford to make? I used to believe that the only way to fight your fear is to face it. I raise my eyes.

There are eyes in the fog, looking at us. Beautiful. Glowing. Some of my fellows who are stuck on the deck with me straighten up. They laugh. It’s not that scary after all. Some of them dive into the water.  I hear singing.

Beautiful voice. I see my crew. I see the waves licking our ship. When you see blood in the water, don’t look.

It’s entirely possible to lose time at sea. When I felt the ship gently swinging on the waves, I opened my eyes. I found myself standing in the same place, staring into the ground. The wood beneath me was soaked with blood.

Since then I always sleep at night. There are some things that you’d better forget. And Lord, I don’t want to face my fears ever again.


Interesting facts?

The discipline on our ship is unquestionable. We don’t drink, we don’t fight, we mind our wording. Conflicts are prohibited. Being a pirate on a ship is not about drinking rum all day and hiding treasures. Do you know the sack race game? This was our invention.

Pirates cannot swim. Because we don’t have time to learn. On the water, we are always moving, and on the land, we have more important things to do.

Once I was knocked off the ship.

We were playing this game where both you and your opponent sit on captives’ shoulders and try to knock off one another. One awkward move and I am flying down from the ship, straight into the embrace of waves.

I open my eyes underwater and only see the blackness below me. I am out of breath, so I try to swim up.

Something falls near me. I can hear the voices from above, telling me to hold on. I go underwater, then manage to get my nose over the surface to get some air, underwater, inhale, underwater, inhale. It is a barrel near me. I push my hand forward and get to it. I float. I can breathe.

Knowing how many creatures in the sea, anyone would want to get to the ship as fast as possible. There is always someone watching you, from the sky, from the land, from the depth.

I’m laying on the barrel, catching my breath. I notice that I can’t hear my crew speaking anymore.

I look down. Nothing there. I raise my eyes to see where the people on the ship are looking.

I turn my head back. The sea is no longer blue.

As far as my eyes can see, it is black. The water goes murky.

I am very, very small.


A deep, loud growl interrupts our conversation.

I take a piece of paper from my travel sack, my pencil, and draw a line number 79.

Were you counting days before I ended up being here?

The Pirate laughs:

Do I look like someone who carries paper and pencils with him?

I shrug my shoulders.

How will it let us know when we’ve arrived?

You’ll know.

Pirate laughs and gets up to light a new match.

The echo brings his voice:

The last one.

I shiver.

Elizaveta Voznesenskaia is a first-year BFA Film student at SVA from Moscow, Russia. She wishes to tell stories in words and in 24 frames per second.