During our sail from Madeira to Morocco, right after we got out of the shelter of the islands, open water lead to some very rough seas. This caught us by surprise. I was on watch at this time, my watch and I were setting and managing multiple sails. The wind kept picking up as we got further out to sea. Suddenly we heard a loud crash! The inner jib had torn, sending the sail flying to the starboard side of the ship. At this point, the ship had been keeled over so far water was spilling into the breezeways. A crew member and I were told to go on the bow spread to pack the sail. Climbing up there was unreal, feeling the force of the wind on my body was terrifying yet exciting. When the job was done, we climbed back down only to hear a second sail had been ripped, the Mizzen. That was the beginning of our small yet rough ocean crossing.
Roughly two days into our sail, everyone had been experiencing horrible sea sickness which, if you haven’t experienced it, is definitely not a good time. Twenty knot winds came with very large waves. These waves brought extra precautions to us on watch: Not only having to keep a sharp lookout, we also had to wear a harness anywhere on the deck to remove the risk of falling overboard.
On October 31st, Halloween, at breakfast that morning, I looked around and saw that the majority of my crew mates were dressed up in creative and goofy costumes. This was awesome because we had very limited supplies for costumes on board. All throughout the day, I was contemplating what costume I could throw together super quickly because I love Halloween and I did not want to seem like a downer by not participating. Suddenly I had an idea. I ran down to my bunk, whipped the white mattress cover sheet off the bottom of my bunk. I also grabbed a gasket from the bridge deck and stared to craft my costume. Unfortunately, my white sheet didn’t stay very white cause I had to peel potatoes in galley. The night was great, we ended it with a Halloween movie and popcorn as well as candy, because you can’t ever forget the candy.
Fifty nautical miles left until we anchored in Morocco. We could see the shore line in the distance. As we approached closer and closer, I began to notice the sand dunes on the beach as well as camels elegantly walking along the beach. At last, we were at anchor although the waves were still big, and we were rocking the same amount as before. It’s almost like we weren’t even anchored. It’s so hard to be so close to land but not be allowed off the boat for a few more days. We had a port presentation put on by some of the students on board. We learned about some of the different traditions here in Morocco, as well as the amazing port program we are going to be doing. I was very excited to be going on this adventure with my friends.
On the first day of the port programming, we had no idea what we were in for. The ship was anchored in the bay just off shore. The only way back and forth from the boat was on Black Betty, an inflatable dingy. Roughly ten students were able to board the boat at once. When it was my turn to cross, I had to sit in the front and within thirty seconds, I was soaked head to toe from the waves that crashed over the front of the raft. We boarded the bus to take us to our destination. After four hours had passed, we stopped at this bread and breakfast place along the way to have an outdoor lunch. The location was beautiful, the food was delicious.
We carried on our journey until we made it to an hotel in the mountains to spend the night. The hotel rooms were very interesting. They looked like a medieval castle. The morning came and we had breakfast by a pool overlooking a village on the mountain side. The village blended deeply with the light brown clay which was used to create all their homes. Before we boarded the bus to our next stop, a guide took us for a tour around the local village as well as up to the top of the small mountain to see the awe-inspiring view of the mountains in the distance. It took my breath away.
We boarded back on the bus to go to our next destination. Along the way students purchased outfits to wear in the desert. I personally got myself a neat pair of pants and a green head scarf I though was nice. Our next stop was at a village where a local gave us a big tour of the library they had as well as this unique pottery factory they were running. There were plates and bowls lying in the sun all around us waiting to go in their handmade kilns to get fired and painted to be sold in the local shop. At the end we had a chance to look around the shop to see if we wanted to buy anything for ourselves. Many people did, including myself.
When I had woken up the bus had stopped. We finally had made it, it was time to trek our way into the Sahara Desert. Everyone picked a camel, hopped on their backs, and we started the journey. I had never seen a camel in my life until that day. They were absolutely massive. When the camels stood up, it was a shock to see how high up you were. After two or so hours, we arrived at our camp site. We were welcomed with music, dancing and food. Moments later, we crawled up to the top of a big sand dune to watch the beautiful sun set. Everyone sat in silence as the sun set; it was a very relaxing and magical moment for all of us. There were camels in the distance as the sand went on forever.
After the sun said it’s goodbyes for the day, we played in the dunes for hours. People were jumping and rolling down the steep sand having a blast. Dinner came with an amazing presentation, sitting around tables laughing and eating while a few students played some circle drums they found in the dinning tent. A bond fire to end the night with sparks flying; as a family we sang and danced the night away.
Written by: Class Afloat student, Samantha W