The Gulden Leuuw was gracefully leaving Hamilton harbour, slowly making her way into calm waters. The last tears and screams of our parents faded until they were another engraved memory in our minds. I left Bermuda refilled with energy and good vibes, thanks to my Mother’s visit whom I had missed a lot.
After the rough sail that we had from Cuba to Bermuda, I departed for the big journey (18 days of sailing until reaching the Azores) with a positive attitude. I could feel the good spirits of the student crew, even with this big challenge ahead of us. For the majority of us, we felt ready. We had 6 months of sailing background. We had sailed through the cold English Channel at the beginning. We had lived through our first big storm while getting to Morocco. We had crossed the South Atlantic a couple of months earlier. Finally, we had survived our passage through the famous Bermudan Triangle that has taken the life of so many sailors in the past. We also packed as many snacks as we could. Just to give you an idea, the bench where we put all our snacks broke because of the crazy amount of food that we, teenagers, packed!
As the first days of sailing passed, it was harder to focus in class and see the bright side of things. Adjusting to sea life always takes a few days. During this time, falling into negativity is sometimes so much easier and tempting because you are tired and soar. Between day watch, school, homework, and night watch, our days are long and our free time is short. When I get woken up at 5:40 every morning for watch, I usually tell myself: What would I do to be able to stay in bed, just one day? What would I do to sleep in a big comfy bed until I naturally wake up?
After this complaining part of my morning routine, I go up to the bridge deck. It is pitch black. I see the beautiful stars. We set one sail, or we take down one, and then the sky becomes brighter. The black becomes navy blue and then beams of light make their appearance. Splashes of pink, yellow and orange flourish in the sky. I eat my breakfast, drink my coffee and I suddenly say to myself how lucky I am to be here at seven o-clock in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
The sixth day of this long journey, I go up again for my morning watch and the size of the waves amazes me. The wind goes up to 40 knots! Waves are huge, even gigantic. The boat feels small, surrounded by this infinite, powerful amount of water. Waves splash everywhere on deck, giving unwanted salty showers to the crew.
Eating without spilling your plate everywhere, showering, or just standing up without falling becomes a daily life challenge. Your body is always adjusting itself to the constant heeling of the ship. Your muscles are never totally relaxed, which is exhausting for everybody. At the same time, it is also my favourite moment. I am tired but also thrilled by what I am doing. I have the impression of accomplishing something by being able to be a part of the work that makes us travel from one unknown place to another, to be able to work with others in order to master the power of the ocean.
Of course, school in rough weather is not the easiest thing as you can imagine. You cannot leave your pen on the table because it will fall and you will not find it again. Having a moving classroom isn’t really practical but, from the outside, it must seem quite funny.
In 10 days, I will be in the Azores. In only three months, this adventure will be over. The first 6 months went by fast, therefore I know that the last part will fly by. This is why I need to live to the fullest the bad as much as the good because this is a once in a lifetime experience that will define the adult I will become.
Written by Class Afloat Student, Margaux D.