Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sailing Along - Barbados to Curacao

The first sail of the semester! Bridgetown, Barbados to Willemstad, Curacao.  It took us four days and we had great weather.  Mostly the seas were pretty calm and I continued with my thinking that Sorlandet can be pleasant when she’s moving!  There was one night when the rolling kept me awake but otherwise I can’t complain.

Rainbow over Bridgetown
There have been some awesome moments on this sail.  If I had to pick one it would be when I had the helm for about half an hour (to relieve a student so they could attend a galley orientation class) and for a few minutes I had the aft deck to myself.  Me, the wind, the waves and the ship (oh, and the officer sitting in the charthouse but you can’t see that from helm!).  I thought to myself how incredible it was that I was in the middle of the Caribbean helming a 210 foot tall ship.

During this sail we had a full moon which you really notice out on deck.  I can’t get a picture that comes close to how it really looks but it’s amazing to have the decks lit up by the moon and see the moonlight dancing on the water.  It’s light enough to create shadows from the rigging that dance around with the motion of the boat.

One of my roles on board is Chief Baker and this sail I’ve gone into bread production mode.  I’ve baked bread twice now and it’s not as intimidating to bake for 60 as I thought it might be.  The industrial stand mixer definitely helps!  Good thing too as we do go through bread quite quickly (I mean a round of sandwiches is 120 slices minimum).  One of the loaves from the last batch was quite huge and ended up yielding 40 slices! It was one of my “free form” loaves and when I cut it I sliced in in half before cutting the individual slices.

Classes started the day before we departed and there is an incredibly detailed schedule for the students to follow every day.  There is a 5 day rotation for classes and day watch and a 6 day rotation for galley.  Day watch is broken down by the hour and no two students will have the same schedule!  Every morning we have “colours” at 8:00.  This is when we raise the Norwegian and Canadian flags and then have a short assembly/morning announcements time.  After that the students clean the ship until 9:00 when classes start.  Classes continue until 6:00 with a 2 hour break for lunch. 

Fun fact: I attended my first ever high school class this week!  (For those who don’t know I was homeschooled from grade 5 so never “went” to high school although I did the work).  Not your typical high school though so I probably shouldn’t base ideas of high school on my experience here.

I also attended “Clubs Night” when the students and teachers proposed clubs they want to run this semester.  In total 30 were mentioned but we’ll see how many get going.  At the end of the night I found myself leading or co-leading Penpal Club and Crafting Club (not too surprised, are you?).

Students gathered around the store
Something I didn’t know we had on board till this sail is a General Store! It’s student run and generally opens once per sail or once per week on longer sails.  There are 3 main categories: sweet, salty, healthy and you’re only allowed $2 worth of merchandise from each category though you can buy as much soap, deodorant and laundry powder as you want.  I was unreasonably excited the day they announced the store would be open!  In the end I only ended up spending $3 as there wasn’t too much in the salty or healthy category that interested me.  Much better then the crew “slops” (duty free when we cross borders) which is mostly alcohol and cigarettes.
Contents of the store
The last evening before arrival is Port Presentation night. The teachers rotate through who does these talks about what to do, where to go, and other travel basics – currency, language, tipping expectations, transportation etc.  Curacao looks like a great place to spend some time and I’m looking forward to my day off.

So overall the school programs are keeping me busy when galley is not and I try to play around on deck when I can.  At the least I take some time before bed to go out on deck and just enjoy where I am.

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