May 24, 2018
Class Afloat offers rigorous and internationally acclaimed academic programmes for Grade 11, 12, University and Gap year students while they sail the world’s oceans aboard a majestic tall ship. Class Afloat has a long legacy of commitment to academic excellence, community service, leadership and personal development since first setting sail over 30 years ago.
The program works with the Ministry of Education, Nova Scotia for its high school, is Quebec Ministry of Education approved partner of Cégep Marie-Victorin and university students earn credits through Acadia University in Nova Scotia
Currently, a class is sailing from Bermuda to the Azores and we asked to have a first hand account for CYOB. This narrative was written by Emily Andrews, Gap year student from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, QC aboard Gulden Leeuw, a Dutch flag registered Class ‘A’ sail training tall ship.
Emily Andrews, Gap student sailing the Atlantic
Adventure. Who knows what fuels the insuperable urge to broaden one’s horizons and discover. To put yourself and your comforts on the line, to embrace vulnerability and to jump, feet first, into the unknown. And why? What for?
With full stomachs and empty wallets, fortyClass Afloat students bid Bermuda farewell, embarking on yet another leg of their school-on-a-tall-ship journey.On April 10th, we lifted the gangway and cast off the mooring lines. The water surrounding us officially changed from shades of blue to shades of grey. We were no longer sheltered by Caribbean Islands and we had strong winds and relentless rain to show for it. The wind hit the waves so hard that it created small, tight ripples that snaked their wakes like goose bumps.
Our ship did not sail the Atlantic, the Atlantic sailed her. The first three days were suffocated by pregnant clouds that rained down on us with no remorse. We keep our foul weather gear in a closet that became a battleground of sopping wet “foulies” lying limp on their hangers.
On April 15th, winds slowly but surely picked up and from one day to the next, we entered a sea state that caused just as much destruction as it did awe. Forty-knot winds pushed our ship up to a record of 13 knots, and waves as tall as 8 meters maneuvered us like a rag doll. We were left at the complete mercy of the Atlantic and her winds, being thrown to angles up to 35 degrees. I was forced to trust laws of physics that are still just beyond my grasp. The weather took a toll on our ship as the mizzen sail ripped from head to foot, the gaff vang for the mizzen broke and the inner jib sheet snapped, sending the sail into such a frenzy that the noise and vibration of the sail tearing woke me up in my bunk.
Only once did I go aloft in this weather and the experience took my breath away, seemingly for good. 30meters high, the roll threw me from side to side as if the strength of the wind wasn’t enough to test my balance and ability to hold on.
On April 23rd, the Azores came into sight and with them, a deeper understanding of “why and what for”. The islands surrounding us were green and lush and welcoming and, honestly, nothing felt better than to take in the sights and talk to home. However, at the infamous Peters Sports Bar the first night, the normality of sitting and waiting for my food hit me with a bout of anxiety. I stepped out to get some air and realized that it’s simple: even after 13 intense days of true sailing, I still seek to fully understand the sea.