Ship Life: Tenerife to Dakar
The departure from Tenerife left many with heavy hearts and many more with tear stained t-shirts. It was quite a sight to see all of our parents, Megan (Class Afloat’s head of school) included, standing on the quayside wishing us goodbye and a fair voyage. We were, however, quickly torn from this sentimental lull and thrown back into everyone’s favorite part of sailing, pulling on “ropeys”. That being said, it was good to be back at sea. The port began to fade behind us and the winds blew strong at our backs, stealing us away from that beautiful island paradise. As sad as it was to leave the parent port behind, the adventure was still ahead of us and plenty more was to be seen, done, tasted, and explored.
It was said before we left port that this was where the real sailing would begin and it appears our Captain could not have been more right. The winds were treating us well and we flew along at quite the speed, Senegal in our sights. As always the creatures of the sea seemed just as perplexed with our ship as we were of them, and many crowded around for a closer look. Everything from pilot whales to sea turtles were seen on occasion, causing short recess breaks in our class and day watch routines. A lonesome shark was even seen prowling around off the starboard beam, searching for food scraps or clumsy students liable to fall overboard. As we continued on our journey it seemed the sharks would get no such feast. Day after day pods of dolphins could be seen jumping and playing in the waves, keeping us company during the late hours of the night and providing an exiting view through classroom port holes.
As we sailed along it became evident what all of the dolphins had been snacking on as schools of flying fish started to show themselves off around the boat. Some of the more egotistical fish even made their way onto the deck so that we could really get a closer look at these soaring and plunging creatures.
Towards the end of our journey it appeared that our sailing abilities had brought us in to Senegalese waters ahead of schedule and the sails were struck. The last couple days we sauntered on at a much more relaxing speed, absorbing ourselves in the wonders of being aloft for a perfect sunset and watching dolphins leap underneath us from the bowsprit. Sailing brings a whole new perspective to traveling because as amazing as our destination may be, the journey and the people onboard make it all the more special.
We pulled into port two days early; clearly we are just too good at what we do! We anchored outside of our berth for the first night, and as it turned out we had made it in on a Sunday, which meant all students would be getting prettied up for our Sunday dinner. We put on our nicest shirts, at least half of us showered and most wore deodorant - what a scene. The delicious Sunday dinner was followed by a student council-run coffee house. We gathered on the foredeck under the stars and students made their way to the front to perform whatever their heart desired. Acts ranged from newly-written songs to freshly-created poetry. It was a calming night and a nice step back from our usual daily routine, and more than one memory was made.
The next day, while anchored off-shore, we had the opportunity to complete a much procrastinated deep clean. Parents, you would be impressed at how far your children have come, for not a single moan or complaint was heard for the entirety of the four hours that we scrubbed the ship. And if that wasn’t enough, apparently we did a pretty good job too! However, before you get ahead of yourselves, sadly we are only capable of these miraculous feats while underway so as sadly we will not be able to recreate them at home. After the deep clean was complete all hands met in the sparkling clean mess and had some much needed lunch. After lunch and five minutes before classes were scheduled to begin it was announced that we would have a swim call and the rest of the day could be put on hold for an hour. Students and faculty alike stormed to their dorms to change and rushed to the bowsprit, keen to leap off into the cooling ocean. After many jumps and some accidental flops, the crew, smile-clad, made their way back on board and the school schedule commenced. Talk about a pretty great recess.
After we dried off and finished our classes, the anchor was pulled up and we made our way to the quayside in Dakar, still one day early for arrival. We were treated to a port presentation, explaining the wonders that can be explored here in Dakar, Senegal, and the port programming that we would have the chance to participate in. As I write this the students are gathering in the mess, talking excitedly about the adventures that await us in the next coming days.
- Written by Brody, English12 student