On our way to Poland, Class Afloat as a collective was tired, both student and teacher crew. During the first days of the sail, it felt to me as if we’d lost motivation to do work. Looking back, I realize it was a big change from being in London, one of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world, to being on the ocean, where the only human contact we had was confined to our ship.
Part of it was also because we enjoyed London so much. It was the first time in a long time that we were in a city that big—the biggest city we’ve visited yet—and it was eye-opening. We enjoyed the luxuries of paying with tap everywhere, and having the wifi to contact family and friends. The abrupt change of having those luxuries to boat life was also why the general mood was so low. However, students and crew who loved to sail found that they were ready to be at sea again, because they felt that ports were too hectic. Those optimistic sailors kept the boat running during those first days, even though we were motoring for the most part as the wind was against us.
Some of us caught bad colds in London, even stomach flues, and were tortured with that for a good portion of the sail. I felt lucky as we sailed away that I was healthy, and felt sympathy for those who were coughing their hearts out. That night, however, my sympathy quickly turned to empathy. I noticed a little nauseous monster trying to intrude on my sleep. I tried to shake it off, but it was still there when I woke up for watch. I was on the verge of puking, but after night snack, the little monster somehow went away. The chocolate cookies must have been really scary. Many Floaties weren’t as lucky as me, for their sicknesses persisted all the way to Poland.
On day three of the sail, we found out we were anchoring for the night. I thought it was because we were going too fast. It was a total surprise to hear that we were going to Kiel the next day! With that, our first surprise port of the semester, the gloom was lifted from the ship, and the mess buzzed with excitement once again. Students scattered to get their work done on time for port, and teachers did the same. Even though we would only be in Kiel for a few hours, it was enough motivation. The excitement of the surprise bonded us, and that day, we felt like a true community.
In Kiel, as we piled off the ship, a familiar bearded face greeted us. It was Sammy! Our former AB from first semester. Running to greet him, the first semester students could barely contain our excitement. Even more so, we were glad to see our favourite bromance, —Sammy and Adrian—reunite.
On day four, as we sailed away from Germany, everything felt normal. It felt like the beginning of the year sails again, when students were excited to start new sails. The normality, however, was disturbed by an announce calling for Nick, our beloved Greenhand. The Captain announced on the loudspeaker in a peculiar tone: “Nick, please report to the bridge, or else bad things will happen.” Many of us didn’t think much of this, because people were called to the bridge all the time. Sometime later, I realised that I could see land again. In fact, we were back in Kiel! Confused, I went outside, and there stood Nick, exactly where we left him.
Floaties ran outside to greet him, laughing harder the closer we got, as we could see the pained embarrassment on his face. Curious spectators of Kiel gathered around on dock to see our majestic home dock. We slowly motored toward shore, and as soon as Nick stepped onboard, we motored out. It was the most cinematic moment of my life. It was hilarious. With that, we knew that it was going to be a good time for the remainder of our sail to Poland. Accompanied by brilliant sunsets and calm winds, it was indeed.