Samana, Dominican Republic

Posted on 19 March 2015 @ 2:47pm

The Dominican Republic was a good port. We got to partake in community service projects in Las Terrenas, mine being mural painting at a local school. The theme of the murals was about education, whether it be about imagination, reading, or nature. Our group chose reading, but we managed to sneak in an image of the Gulden Leeuw. While painting the first mural, a few local children came along and asked us if they could help us paint. They painted some flowers and added their handprints on the wall, all the while getting more paint on us than the wall in the process. We also got to sleep off of the ship this port for 2 nights, some students at home stays and some in hotels.

Belize City, Belize

Posted on 1 March 2015 @ 9:26am

The Port Program for Belize was an experience that will never be forgotten. The Mayan Temple was an incredible view I’ve never seen before. I couldn't believe how old all the Temple were. It was cool being able to learn about local history.

Puerto Limon, Costa Rica

Posted on 18 February 2015 @ 9:41am

As we tendered off the ship on the morning of the 16th we were all very excited to get to the white water rafting site. We were all very anxious as soon as we saw the rivers after an hour bus ride. We immediately split up into 11 different rafts and got out in the rapids. Each raft had a guide and six crewmembers. It was incredible to be rushing down the streams that tossed us around the blue 8-foot inflatable craft.

Cartagena, Colombia

Posted on 9 February 2015 @ 11:18am

It was a good day to be walking around the city. We had been split into three groups earlier today, and we talked as we walked, following our leader through the city to the meeting square. Once there, we found our tour guide, and followed her as she told us about the old city and the food culture. The food tour was unique and something so simple, yet something none of us had ever thought of doing. The concept was walking from street vendor to corner shop tasting the foods and smelling the cooking. 

We walked for about 2 solid hours, and it was beginning to get hot. Like perfect timing, our guide led us to an old lady’s home. She was a nanny that made extra cash by selling a type of Spanish popsicle right out of her living room to the kids on their way to school each morning. Each receiving one, we were let loose for shore leave and the lady went to meet the second group of floaties. We pondered around the old town in our shore leave, passing by street vendors and trying yet more food until 4pm, when we met at a Salsa Dance Studio. The name of the program, Crazy Salsa says it all. Half of us were over the moon about dancing whilst the other half (mainly the boys) trooped up the stairs as if it where the last time they would see daylight. 

Personally, I enjoyed the salsa dancing. Although the guides spoke little English, and some people hid out on the balcony, everyone got pretty into it by the end. We where taught a series of steps, much like line dancing, then, once we had those down, where partnered up boy girl, except for 2 girls because of the boys hiding out on the balcony, and danced to some Spanish music. 

We were once again released for shore leave until curfew at 11pm, but most of us headed back early since it had been a long day. All in all, a unique and wonderful port program.

Willemstad, Curacao

Posted on 1 February 2015 @ 4:07pm

The program is quite unlike any aquarium I have ever been to. All the pens are attached to the ocean, allowing the natural tides to clean and replenish the water the animals live in. The nets that divide the pens have holes so that smaller fish and organisms may float through the aquarium as they please, as well as providing an ideal habitats for unclipped and untamed birds such as pelicans and gulls. Although the animals are still enclosed and the pens are considerably small, they are allowed the freedom of swimming out to the ocean on day trips, and if they wanted, are not expected to return. The animals are fed live food so they do not become lazy and dependent, and are given lots of attention and mental stimulation. The animals are also part of research papers, but not the kind with wires and test tubes. The kind with games and puzzles where understanding the patterns and mental capability are the central goal.

Alumni Sail

Posted on 21 January 2015 @ 3:10pm

Galley, Watch, Happy Hour, Lookout and 1min shower… Those strange words coming out from Floaties mouth… Those words you think you understand… But I swear you don’t until you experience them for real! Alumni Sail is the best way to get along with life at sea as a CAF member! After a week onboard, I can really and fully understand how my daughters lived for a school year on a tall ship. During night watch, I was surrounded by thousands of stars and was thinking about the wonderful opportunity CAF students get to experience every year. Also I can understand how close they get to each other over the semester as I saw impressive teamwork during this Alumni Sail!  I have no words to describe my feeling when I saw land on portside as we approached Guadeloupe… 15 hours sail, imagine crossing the ocean! Climbing aloft was also a challenging moment while at sea during this one week Caribbean Sail, but I was so proud to make it. Without any doubt, I will come back for another CAF Alumni Sail ! 

Charlotteville, Trinidad & Tobago

Posted on 7 January 2015 @ 7:56pm

Tobago has been a tropical paradise!  After arriving early in Man O’War Bay, students enjoyed their time at anchor with multiple swim calls and beautiful views.  On New Years Eve we brought in the new year with a student lead coffee house on the foredeck followed by some tasty treats.  At midnight, we continued an old maritime tradition by having the oldest person on board ring out the old year and the youngest ring in the new.  We were able to see the fireworks on the shore and sent some lanterns into the night sky courtesy of Diego.  On January 2nd, students had a full day to explore the island with many students taking the local bus to Scarborough, the nearest sizable city, while many others stayed in Charlotteville near the ship and enjoyed liming (relaxing) with the locals.  On Jan 3rd, we went deep into the oldest Primary Rainforest in the Western Hemisphere in search of some of the rare and exotic birds that are unique to the island of Tobago.  Students saw many birds, including humming birds and parrots, learned about forest ecology, swung from some vines and even ate some tasty termites!  After getting muddy and sweaty on the hike, we finished the afternoon with a dip at Argyle Falls.  January 4th allowed the students to reunite with local friends they had met and go on recommended adventures.  Some went to local houses for lunches while others went Scuba Diving in Speyside.  Overall, the beauty of the island coupled with the kindness of the people has ensured that Tobago will always have a place in the students hearts.

Paramaribo, Suriname

Posted on 31 December 2014 @ 4:54pm

On the evening of December 23, after twenty-three days at sea, everyone on board was very excited to finally see the shores of Suriname. Despite our difficulties with customs, it was confirmed that on Christmas Day at 0700h we would be able to board our buses and head to where the road ends and head into the Amazon Jungle for a three-day adventure.

After a four-hour bus ride, we boarded long motorized canoes and headed 1.5 hours up the Upper Suriname River to Menimi Eco Lodge. Once we arrived we were able to settle into our rooms and head into the river for an afternoon swim.  Later, we ate a typical Surinamese lunch of rice and beans and fresh fruit.  In the late afternoon, we divided in to four groups and went for a walk through the jungle with
our local guides.  Here we learned about which vines are safe for swinging, the medicinal properties of jungle plants, and identified creatures we came across along the way.  We also were shown a “plot” and explained how they work.  Each male is expected to clear a small area of land and cultivate it once he has a family. We were shown pumpkin, pineapple, sugar cane, peanut and many other plants being grown on the plot.  Once it got dark, half the students reloaded the canoes and went out to try to spot caimans in the river while the others enjoyed a campfire before bed.

On day two, students went for a swim before breakfast then got ready to divide once again into four smaller groups for our visit downstream to Gunzi Maroon Village.  Maroons are the descendants of African slaves that escaped into the jungle to find freedom.  In these villages, the people still have many African traditions such as ladies carrying laundry/food baskets on their heads and men building dugout canoes for transportation.  We were able to visit the village of our main guide Jozef were students were able to choose which task they would participate in for the day.  Some went to the plots to help with planting and harvesting, others went to the river to try to catch some
piranhas for our lunch while the other two groups learned to cook traditional dishes to share with the village.  During this time students got to spend the entire day working with local Saramaccan people taking turns getting their hair braided (girls and boys), playing with local children, learning to open coconuts and making jewelry from the leaves of plants.  We also helped hulling rice and preparing cassava bread.  Once all the work was done, we shared the meal we all played a part in creating with the village.  After lunch, the Saramaccans did a small performance of local song and dance and we were encouraged to join in. The evening ended with a quick swim together after the game followed by a final goodbye.  Before the other half of the students went caiman spotting, we were greeted by Jozef holding a tarantula he had found. Students were all given a chance to
hold it and get photos.

Tenerife, Gran Canaria

Posted on 2 December 2014 @ 6:27pm

After a rocky start, the island of Tenerife proved to be worth the confusion over our berth. For our port program, we drove for an hour and a half to Playa Los Americanos to go surfing! Because of a forecasted storm, the port program was changed so that all students went surfing on the same day in two shifts rather than over two days as previously planned. There were high winds, but that didn’t stop people from having a great time. For the remaining days ashore, people enjoyed going to the world famous water park on the island, hiking in the mountains, riding the gondola up the volcano, going out to see the new Hunger Games movie, and most importantly, calling home for the last time before we set sail for 23-days across the Atlantic. In preparation for the crossing, a new stay-sail was put up in place of our schooner gaff sail. Now underway, all aboard are excited for South America and the fast approach of Christmas at sea.

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Posted on 25 November 2014 @ 2:19pm

After our parent port, we arrived in Madeira. It is one of the most amazing islands most of us have ever been to, mainly because of its astonishing beauty. What first caught our eyes were the beautiful cliffs and the landscapes of the island in general. We were greeted by the most amazing rainbow welcoming us to a new harbour full of adventures waiting for us. That breathtaking rainbow was by far not the only one we saw, which is why for some of us, Madeira will be called “Rainbow Island.”