Our journey to the beautiful isle of Bermuda all started with our departure from the tropical island of Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic.
As we exited the inlet of Samana, mother nature blessed us with a treat in the evening sky behind us. As we entered the sea again, gorgeous oranges and reds illuminated our stern. Over the last eight months, beautiful sunsets have become a staple of everyday life on the Gulden Leeuw and it’s hard to describe the beauty of sunsets on the ocean; there is truly nothing like it. While we sat on the smooff deck, a pod of common dolphins decided to join us, jumping in our wake like kids in a playground. Much like beautiful sunsets, dolphin sightings have become a regular occurrence.
I’m only one student, but in my humble opinion there isn’t any more of a testament to the unique life we live than these now commonplace experiences. Believe it or not the scene isn’t over: while the dolphins jumped and the sun set, a double rainbow decided to peek out of the clouds on the starboard side. Dolphins on our right, double rainbow on our left, and the sunset behind us, it was quite a way to start our second to last sail.
Sunset over the Dominican.
After a week of gorgeous Caribbean sailing, leaving the Dominican was a re-adjustment period. As we headed north it took us all some time to get used to the rock and roll of the Atlantic. After a day or two of readjusting, we all sunk back into our ship life routines. At first glance everything seemed normal, but something about this sail was different. We left the Dominican with exactly 21 days left on our nine-month adventure and it’s clear we are starting to realize the inevitable fact that soon this will be all over. Whether we like it or not, this program is coming to an end and everyone is making the best out of the time we have left.
Everyday people are climbing aloft and clambering out to the bowsprit knowing that in a few weeks-time we will all be at home, back to our normal lives and away from the beautiful tall ship we currently call home. This semester has been filled with lots of time at sea and everyone is working hard to live the boat lifestyle to the fullest. On watch, the focus has been making the ship “beautiful”, as the maritime crew calls it. We’ve been rust busting the walls and painting the deck, making the ship look good for the upcoming tall ship festival this summer. Even though this preparation is for when we are all off the boat, people are still working hard because the ship is our home.
Another thing that has changed this sail is the conversations onboard. Everyone’s thoughts have changed from the immediate future to life back at home. Most of us are at the age that after this year we will be leaving the house for the first time. Whether it’s university or another year of travel, everyone has exciting plans. What’s most exciting is that everyone is realizing how well prepared they are for going back to the real world. For example, university housing is a big issue for most people; cramped dorm rooms and sharing space it can be tough for anyone.
What’s awesome about this program is that’s been our life for the last eight months and for all of us sharing a room with only three people instead of thirty sounds like a luxury. Living on a ship can have its challenges but it also allows all of us to learn how to live independently and in close proximity with others.
In my eyes, but this program has prepared me for life away from home, better than anything I’ve done before and this opinion is common around the boat. Besides conversations about the future, it’s common to hear everyone reminiscing about all the things we have done in the last eight months. Since September we have crossed the Atlantic three times, ridden camels in the Sahara Desert and visited to most remote inhabited island in the world.
Sunset near Bermuda.
A common question has been: what’s your favorite port or what’s your favorite memory? No one has been able to answer with one port or one specific memory that they can definitively call their favorite. In the last eight months, we have seen more of the world than most people see in a lifetime and now that it’s coming to an end, everyone on board is starting to realize the immensity of our experience. This sail had a different vibe than all the others but it was another unforgettable experience on the list of many.
- Written by Grade 12 student Klaus Bachhuber