Posted on 7 November 2016 @ 7:02pm



Our arrival on the beautiful island of Tenerife was one of the most unique arrivals we’ve experienced so far on our voyage. November 3rd, after a short three days at sea, we sailed into Santa Cruz de Tenerife, our first parent port of the year. What a contrast this island is to the dry weather of Agadir and the barren but beautiful Sahara desert! On deck, as we prepared to drop the sails for our grand arrival, we were able to contemplate the colourful houses resting on the side of towering mountains and the luscious green palm trees that decorate the landscape. After hearing the day before from our pre-port presentation about what this Spanish paradise has to offer, many of the students were ready to head to the beach from the moment they set eyes on the island. Although this view was an exciting one, what really made all of us jump for joy was the sight of the parents standing on the dock, blowing kisses from afar and greeting us with exaggerated waves.

Something special that the crew likes to do for parent ports is to send students aloft so that eleven red dots decorating the yards can be seen by our spectators upon arrival. Due to the limited amount of people allowed on each yard and the extensive number of students that were eager to take up this responsibility, action had to be taken to decide which lucky monkeys would be standing on the yards as we approached land. Dressed in our school uniform (our “reds” as we like to call them), students mustered with their respective watches in straight lines, anxiously waiting for the ceremony to start (the ceremony being the random drawing of marked pieces of paper from a hat taken from the ship’s lost-and-found). After each student drew from the hat, different expressions appeared on their faces. Some of these faces were bright and joyful as they proudly held up their prize, a white slip of paper with a large black X on it, indicating that they would be waving down at their parents to greet them. Other students were not as happy after the draw, dragging their feet back to their watch, holding a blank piece of paper.

Aloft for arrival
Here’s a photo of the floaties/ monkeys that got the opportunity to go aloft for our grand arrival. 

 At the end of the day, all of us were able to greet our parents in a rather spectacular manner. Whether we were waving from the topgallant or yelling from the foredeck, these parents had the chance to see their sons and daughters travel towards them onboard a beautiful tall ship. As we arrived in port, the students perched up on the yards could be seen pointing down towards land, attempting to differentiate their own parents from the rest of the crowd. The rest of the student body who stood on the foredeck rushed to the port side of the boat to get a better look at the people welcoming us.

Once we finally cleared customs, a mixture of laughter, tears and gleeful shouts could be heard wildly from all corners of the Gulden Leeuw as parents started boarding the ship, seeing their sons and daughters for the first time in two months. As they stepped onto the gangway, many parents simply brought with them their smiles and warm, well-needed hugs for their children, while other parents lugged special deliveries. Favourite snacks that students had been craving from home, those sweaters and t-shirts that had been forgotten in the last-minute packing two months ago and many other “necessary” items were delivered promptly to many grateful students by their loving parents. After this early Christmas present delivery session ended, the stories started to pour out of students mouths in direction of their parents listening ears.


This photo is of one of my fellow crew mates, Dan, holding up some snacks. These snacks include peach flavoured candy, Special K cereal and some fruity tea.

The Class Afloat journey so far, encouraged and supported by our parents, is one that has been life-changing for many of us, even at this early stage of the program. Fortunately, this port has given many of us the chance to relay to our parents just how thankful we are for the opportunity that we have been given. Describing the view from the Cristo Rei Statue in Lisbon, the rolling hills from countryside of Southern Spain, the breathtaking sunset in the Sahara desert and the countless other adventures we have had so far onboard this ship has made looks of awe appear on the faces of many parents. Hopefully, these detailed descriptions and seeing the new and lasting relationships that the students have created amongst our ship community have given the parents a better idea as to how this program has affected us in so many positive ways.

 Although the goodbye will definitely be a tough and gloomy one (especially for the parents), we know that the next couple of days will be great ones, filled with productivity (AKA, starting university applications for many of the grade 12 students!) and a ton of fun adventures. We also know for a fact that the sadness that these farewells introduce into our hearts will soon be replaced with laughter and cheerfulness from the great memories we will be making together at sea.  

- written by Caroline, an English 12 student