Student Alumni in the Spotlight: Celina Diaz

Posted on June 5, 2020 by

Get to know Class Afloat faculty and students throughout the ages in our Alumni in the Spotlight series.

What’s your name?

Celina Diaz

Celina Judith Diaz

Where are you from?

Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada

What year did you sail with Class Afloat?

I sailed with Class Afloat in 2012-13, the route was a figure eight of the North and South Atlantic on the Sørlandet of Norway.

Do you still keep in touch with your shipmates?

That’s a bit of a hard question to answer. We keep in touch, but I guess just based on geography – I see my classmates a lot less now than we did the couple of years after graduating. I’ve become closer to some after the school year than while on board, and some of by best friends are Class Afloat alumni from other years, funnily enough.

Where are you now?

Currently I am in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I have lived for the past five years.

What have you been up to following your time at sea?

What I discovered at sea that first year captivated my attention so much, that it literally has become my entire world since. Eager to keep on, in 2014 I worked as a trainee on the training ship DANMARK, and graduated with Ordinary Seaman papers.

I can’t say that there was a point where I consciously chose a career at sea, but one thing lead to another, one job to the next! I spent four years on my favourite ship Sørlandet, sailed three voyages as a quartermaster on the DANMARK and spent some time on a sailmaker’s bench in Denmark.

What impact did Class Afloat have on your life and career?

I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when I sent an application to Class Afloat. Well, some idea I guess, but I didn’t know how it would change every decision that I’ve made in the following years.

Class Afloat made the biggest impact anything has in my life, mostly because I have made a career out of sailing tall ships and sail training. I consider myself very lucky to have been a Class Afloat student when I was, with the exceptional mix of crew and teachers that were there at the time. They inspired me to go after something very unconventional, without necessarily having the intent to do so.

What is your favourite Class Afloat memory?

It’s impossible to choose. I think one of my favourite memories was sewing bottlescrew boots. Without explaining too much, it’s just a piece of canvas that is stitched around the threads of a bottlescrew, which is used to tighten the standing rigging. In non-sailor words, sewing a piece of fabric around a fixed, cylinder-shaped object. There were hundreds to stitch, so what began as a one-man project slowly became a job that a lot of us students could do.

So over the course of a few weeks, we would get together in our free time, and stitch. It could have been on deck, in the rigging, or out on the bowsprit. It was nice to do something practical and detailed, while chatting a bit with a friend, looking at dolphins swimming alongside, or even just alone using the time to reflect on our surroundings while crossing another ocean.

If you could offer your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

If I could tell my younger self anything, I would probably say not to worry so much. I have spent a lot of time and energy being concerned about the outcome of decisions made, without necessarily having an influence on them in any way. Knowing now that most things work out, it would have been nice to have that insight sooner.

What was your biggest takeaway from your Class Afloat journey?

I can remember just after our graduation, my shipmate Blake said ‘this was the best year of our lives.’ I remember thinking how stupid that comment was. It was impossible that this was ‘it.’ I would surely go on living years that were consistently better than the lasts. But thinking back on it now, it was the perfect and possibly only time in our lives to experience something so big, so great.

There’s just something about the age group being just right. You are independent enough, yet still open, curious, trusting and without so many attachments and expectations about how things should be. So I guess Blake was right, I don’t know if it ever gets better than that, or if we ever will laugh as much as we did while taking so much pleasure in learning something new. It’s not to say that I am less happy now than I was then, but there is something so special about being that age and experiencing such a great adventure unlike anything else. So my biggest takeaway from Class Afloat is a year of irreplaceable and incomparable memories – luckily enough, shared with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.