After our first voyage and a jaw dropping stay in Porto we are all finally settling into a routine. I find myself often referring to the ship as “home” and that is truly what it is. In these few short weeks we have spent on board, I have learnt so much about life at sea and how important it is to look after yourself, your shipmates, and your ship. We all work together to ensure everybody is safe and happy. As I spend more and more time enjoying the sea, and less time feeding the fish with my vomit, I have gained a great appreciation and respect for the sea. The isolation is something I have grown to love but it is always an amazing feeling to call home once you have service.
A “normal” day at sea begins with breakfast at 0730. Usually everybody drags their tired bodies up over the stairs to eat and get ready for the day. We then muster at 0800 for colours. This is a time when everybody is together and all the ships announcements are made. My birthday was September 24th and of course at colours, Charlie had to throw five buckets of water over my head to kick off my birthday. This is a ship tradition where you get a bucket of water or two, dumped over your head for your birthday. We then have happy hour, which is when you go to your cleaning stations to clean your assigned part of the boat. After that we rotate through our schedule.
There are five slots a day, you will either have a class, watch, or an off period to catch up on homework or sleep. Most of us spend this time sleeping. We have lunch at 1200, a snack at 1700, and supper at 1830. The evenings are always a calmer time used to study and socialize. This is also where we hold our evening events such as Merengue Monday, Trap Thursday, or Salsa Saturday. These are events that the student crew plans on their own. It is a mind blowing experience to be in the middle of the ocean with nothing around us and to be having a dance party with a bunch of teenagers from all around the world that you have only known for 2 weeks.
Jeremy and I the first time I ever climbed to the topgallant. It was amazing to watch the dolphins jump and play from a true bird’s eye view.
On September 23rd, we had a pretty hectic night. We experienced our first bit of rough weather. The wind and waves worked together to give us one eventful evening. "All hands on deck" was called and people raced around trying to take down some sails. It was insane, the boat was heeling, the angry sea was throwing itself against the breezeways and we were all holding on tight. Amongst all the controlled chaos we almost lost the safety boat; luckily it was well secured. We took down multiple sails and still remained at a speed of 11 knots.
The weather turned for the worse or better, depending on your point of view. As this went on the captain ordered for the mizzen and topgallant to be stowed. As seen in the photo, the student crew scurried to complete the captain’s orders.
On the evening of the 26th, after motoring into strong headwinds all day, we anchored just outside of Almeria, Spain. We stayed here for approximately 24 hours to wait out a storm. The landscape was breathtaking. As we patiently waited to leave and head for Corsica, we received some information regarding a change in our itinerary. There was a big storm in the Mediterranean reaching 40 or 50 knots which is almost hurricane force winds. We are having a three day stay in Palma de Mallorca to avoid this storm. We can not make up enough time to make it all the way to Corsica, so we are going to stop in Barcelona for five days before resuming our regular itinerary and making our way to Valencia. This is super exciting because my parents were actually just there so I’ll have some insider information on what is good to explore.
Picture of the city of Almeria. As seen on the left, there was a castle that we researched and discovered that it was actually over 1000 years old.
I’m constantly blown away with the way our crew functions. For example, when I was sea sick, laying down on the breezeways, everybody who walked by asked how I was or if I needed anything. I always felt like everyone genuinely cared and that isn’t something many people can honestly say. We have a true connection and everyday someone makes the cheesy pun that we are all in the same boat, there has never been anything more relevant and true. We are friends, not only friends but family. We all work to make everybody happy and ensure that there are no “outsiders”. Being at sea is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life but it is also the most rewarding. After all the blood sweat and vomit I put into this voyage, I’m ecstatic to finally be on land with more amazing opportunities to come.
A photograph taken not long after our departure from Porto. The topgallant is the highest square sail, then it is the upper topsail, lower topsail and the course sail.
Written by: Class Afloat student, Ryan Combden
* Featured image: Beautiful view that we all witnessed during our city tour looking over the old city of Porto.