Kristen Grace

A recent Miami alumnus recently sailed a new social networking site onto the scene, providing a platform for strangers to connect, plan and embark on their very own sea adventures.

This Web site, Vagabond Sailing (http://www.vagabond-sailing.com), offers a way for both novice and expert sailors to organize their own “seatrips” and venture across the globe with people they have never met.

The founders, Robert Patrick, a recent Miami University graduate living Austin, Texas, and Marco Grasso, an Italian native studying in England, created the site in hopes of not only giving people a place to organize trips, but to do so with people from locations and cultures other than their own.

“Our idea is that finding yourself on a boat with a bunch of ‘strangers’ from different countries and backgrounds and working as a team will help (form) a better cultural understanding and respect,” Grasso said.

The idea for the site came about after Patrick and Grasso connected through the social networking site CouchSurfing (http://www.couchsurfing.com), which connects travelers with people within the local community and provides an alternative to hostels or hotels.

Patrick spent a few nights on Grasso’s couch while traveling in Europe and the two formed a close friendship.

Complementary to CouchSurfing, Vagabond Sailing offers travelers an alternative way to travel between locations by connecting them with other travelers.

Before creating Vagabond Sailing, Patrick and Grasso developed an online survey to see just how much interest a site like this would generate. They wanted to see how many people would “get on board.” The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

“The response was so positive that we knew we had to make the site,” Patrick said.

The site launched Jan. 5 and as of Jan. 11 had reached almost 100 members. The first two voyages will take place in July 2010, sailing from Tuscany to Barcelona and then returning to Tuscany by a different route.

“Through the site it will be possible to get to know who is going where and when, join a group prior the departure and get involved in the trip organization so that it will match everyone’s expectation,” Grasso said.

According to Patrick, Vagabond Sailing is the first and currently the only social networking site that connects sailors.

“I’ve been told several times by our new members that they’ve been waiting for something like this to come along,” Patrick said.

In the coming years, both Patrick and Grasso hope to see the site grow as more people hear about the site and interest in these “seatrips” continues to grow.

“In five years it would be great to have over 500,000 members,” Patrick said. “I’d like to see it become a household name.”

Patrick also said in the future, Vagabond Sailing would hopefully be able to utilize grant money to reduce the shared cost of voyages for travelers.

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