Ship Life: Fernando de Noronha to Natal
Just as it is on land, onboard the Gulden Leeuw some days go by quickly, while others seem as though they have lasted years. After our previous twelve-day voyage, this two-day passage from Fernando de Noronha to Natal has been a breeze. On departure day, after saying goodbye to the beloved archipelago that we thoroughly enjoyed, we sailed from anchor, with our engine turned off. While many of us were happy to have bathed in the beaming sun during our time spent on the island, the bright star betrayed many of us. Instead of the golden skin that many were hoping for, sunburns took over. As we heaved and hauled away at lines to set our sails, we no longer looked like a crew of sailing students, but instead, we resembled an impressive troupe of well-trained lobsters. “We are chasing the sun!” stated our engineer as we sailed away from the island, moving slowly towards a magnificent sunset, one complete with a gradient of orange, blue, pink and another infinite amount of ever-changing colours. Forget about that fairy tale ending where the heroes ride off into the sunset. On Class Afloat, we sail into it.
Here is the beginning of the sunset before we headed on our passage from Fernando de Noronha to Natal. This photo captures its beauty very well.
Although the passage was short, it was not uneventful. The morning of our first day at sea was coincidentally my Watch leader John’s birthday. He celebrated this special day by receiving a lovely home-made card signed by everyone onboard and, of course, by getting several buckets of water splashed onto him by students during morning Colours. Everyone knows that when birthdays come around, two things are to be expected: salt water is to be chucked at someone and dessert is to be eaten during dinner. In this case, dessert was a delicious peach cobbler, prepared by our beloved galley team. On top of the birthday, it was Sinter Klaus Day. This holiday is celebrated by Dutch people around the world and was brought to light by the Dutch and German students on the ship. To celebrate the occasion, a movie was played in the forward classroom after study hall, while students and teachers wrote Christmas cards to send home for the holidays. Days like these always put everyone in a good mood.
Here is a perfect example of the Class Afloat birthday tradition. Notice how he wore board shorts. Good planning!
I would say that the loveliest part of this passage was waking up in the morning, climbing up the stairs from the dorms to the mess, still half asleep, and seeing the view of Natal through a port hole on starboard side. Instead of the tall cliffs and mountains that greeted us as we arrived in Fernando de Noronha, Natal welcomed us in a very different way. The view was a reminder of home for many of us, including me, as we were able to see tall buildings and skyscrapers reminiscent of the cities many of us come from. At the base of these structures are white sandy beaches. While you might think that Fernando made us sick of the beach, that is untrue and many students are excited to head to the sandy seaside as soon as they can.
Needless to say, this short voyage has been refreshing compared to our previous twelve-day passage and the home-stretch that is ahead of us. After Natal, we will be headed to Uruguay, our last port for the first semester, where some of us will be flying home to our families for the holidays and other will be leaving our ship community permanently. This reality is getting closer and closer and although this thought makes us sad, we try and focus on the present, the wonderful memories that we have made and the ones that we will make in Natal and during our longest passage yet.
- Written by English 12 student Caroline