Exploring the Mediterranean had been our daily life for the past few months. This month though, we would sail further! The first of December was spent at sea, heading for Tenerife and the parent port.
The 3rd of December was the first Sunday in advent as well as family dinner with everyone in the banjer. We lit a candle and the Captain read the first advent light verse, as is tradition in Norway. The verse was read in Norwegian, and translated into Norwegian which is the official language onboard.
On the 4th of December we sailed in to the harbor of Santa Cruz de Tenerife where families and friends of the students waited with flags and hugs. This was the parent port many had looked forward to and it was now time for some days with the family.
On the 7th many were back at the ship for a parent-teacher conference to be updated on the students’ progress in the different classes. It was also an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the daily life of the students. On the 9th it was time to say goodbye on the quay and sail out, bound for Cape Verde. The wind was fair and we moved fast further south.
On December 10th it was once again time for a family dinner and a candle lighting ceremony with the Captain. The 12th of December the holiday club gathered in the galley after dinner to prepare for St. Lucia the next day. Lots of flour, yeast, milk, eggs, sugar, saffron and other ingredients were mixed together to create a massive yellow dough. Nearly 100 saffron rolls (“lussekatter”) were baked that evening, but it was saved for the next day when we celebrated St. Lucia in the banjer with a parade and songs.
The fair wind had made us arrive early so we heaved to and spent a day drifting outside Cape Verde, but on the 16th we sailed in to Praia with the students lined up on deck. The first two days on Cape Verde the students had shore leave, but soon after started the learning optimization program with coordinator Jenn Williams. Here the students were encouraged to analyze their studying methods and the community on board, to better understand the strengths and weaknesses.
The long stay on Cape Verde was also filled with social interaction with the locals. We played football with the students at a school in the new city of Praia and got to visit the national park called Serra de Malaguata. In the costal town of Tarrafal on the Northern part of the island, the students also had a cultural experience when visiting a group of women performing the traditional dance called batuko. This was used as a way of communicating amongst the locals when they were colonized by the Portuguese.
A day was also spent at a community center in Praia with a group of younger students. The A+ students painted their classrooms and played with them the whole day. A trip to the beach and more time to explore Praia in student groups was also a part of the stay.
On the 23rd of December we sailed out and anchored just outside the port and rigged a sing rope. It was time for another swim call! At night the students gathered around to sing and walked around the main mast that was lit up to look like a Christmas tree. The 24th a traditional Norwegian Christmas was celebrated with classic movies such as “Home alone” and “The journey to the Christmas star” (In Norwegian: “Reisen til julestjernen”). For dinner it was a selection of all the traditional Christmas dishes as a buffet, so no one were to be disappointed. For desert the students could choose between caramel pudding, rice pudding and lots of home-made Christmas cakes made by a student’s grandparents.
On the 25th it was time for an American celebration! Movie time in PJs and a gift game “white elephant” was an unconventional way of spending a day at the ship, but made it feel like Christmas.
Mid-day on the 25th we went back in to the harbor and took on provision on the 27th to be prepared for the Atlantic crossing. This was also the arrival day for out new history teacher, Mr. Lisk.
On the 28 of December we sailed out of Cape Verde without the use of the engine. We were under full sails at lunchtime and reached a speed up to 10,5 knots. It was also an eventful day as we had a fire drill, man-over-board drill and an evacuation drill. After the drills the students were encouraged to try to handle the fire hoses and got more of an insight into the aftermath of an evacuation and behavior in the life raft.
The 31st of December started as a normal day. But at 15:00 we set the clock one hour back and spent the extra hour doing sail maneuvers engaging all the students. New Years Eve celebration were held in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The tradition of dropping the ball, known from Time Square in New York, were taken to another level when the students wrapped Christmas lights around a huge fender and lowered it from the main course yard at 23:59:55. The year ended and a new year begun with a lot of warm wishes and hugs on the main deck.
The wind is fair as we head towards Barbados.
On the horizon, faculty: AP chemistry will have their second exam. Evening classes will start to make up for any classes that has fallen behind. A new student council will start up in January, and candidates will have their speeches ready before the election early next month.
On the horizon, ship: Watch Wars will start up the 1st of January! This will be a competition were the students can earn points by being exceptionally good on deck, in school and galley. There will bot be creative challenges and practical one. The winning watch will be generously rewarded, so the game is on!