The sail from Ascension Island to Barbados was the longest uninterrupted passage of the year.
This meant that the sail was tiring and long, but also jam packed with games and activities to keep us busy throughout. The mainstay of these events was Watch Wars, a two-week long competition to determine which watch reigns supreme. Over the course of the semester there had been chatter among the students as to which watch was the best, but watch wars helped put an end to that.
The event started with an opening ceremony. Every watch got dressed up in matching garb and prepared a shore opening skit. From thereon out the shenanigans really began. The first major event was the AIS helm challenge, where each watch had to steer as close to a rhumb line on the chart-plotter as possible. Watch 3, know as Neptune’s Disciples, took the cake for this challenge.
Another memorable event was colour wrestling, wherein two people had colours taped to their backs, they then had to try and see the colour on the other’s back, without touching them with their arms. The ensuing mayhem was a sight to behold: two eighteen year olds hopping around on the foredeck with their arms behind their backs, looking like chickens. This game went on for several minutes, until Pete accidentally let him get a glimpse of his back.
The fun and games continued for many more days. One other memorable event was the garbage prom. Contestants from each watch had to create a prom outfit out of the ship’s recycled products and waste. These materials included egg cartons, recycled paper, milk cartons and flour bags. Many of the contestants really got into the show and even put on characters, like Gustav and Caroline, two French aristocrats, or Tommaso as an Italian model.
The final day of Watch Wars was the watch Olympics: a half day event jam packed with games and races. The first event was a race to set the fore stays’l, in which watch 2 won. For the chin up challenge, Jeremy managed to do a staggering 25 chin ups, and won with that. Following that was a rope coiling competition, but not any rope coiling competition. This event required students to coil, uncoil, ballantyne coil, and feed the rope through a block before it was passed on to the deck. The next nautical competition was a rope tying challenge, in which students lined up, and everyone in the watch had to tie and untie a series of 7 basic knots. This was one of the lengthier events, but really challenged the preparation and skills of the watches as a whole. After the basic knot tying, one member from each watch was appointed to move onto the advanced knot tying competition. This went as follows: an AB would say a knot, and the first person to tie it would get the points. There were only 10 rounds of this game, but over 200 points were doled out.
The final event to end them all was a tug of war. This was done along one of the breezeways, and each watch would pull on a mooring line until their mark passed the other team’s. This was an event of huge proportions. There was chanting, screaming and a big delicious dinner waiting at the end. Watch 3 managed to take the win in this event, although I’m convinced that the deck had more grip on the side they always won on.
Watch 1 competing in the tug of war (this is one of the early rounds).
Overall watch wars served several purposes and really took our minds off the repetitiveness of 27 days at sea. The opening ceremonies were a fun time for the watches to plan a skit and put on a show, and the fashion competition and athletic challenges really brought out the unique talents from each watch. The final leg, watch Olympics, really gave a nice ending to an otherwise hectic and cramped passage. These small things, like events and programming, are the things that really add to the community environment and make Class Afloat so unique.
- Written by Grade 11 student Sam