Monday, May 19, 2014

Shore Leave - Kristiansand, Norway

Our last port of the semester, hard to believe that this journey is over!  Sorlandet hadn’t been back to Norway for three years so her homecoming was pretty big.  We came in flying a huge Norwegian flag, dressing the yards, singing sea shanties and looking our finest.  

Over the last months a lot of work had gone into getting Sorlandet looking her best for this moment – goal achieved!  Once we were alongside the students all gathered on deck and sang Leave her Johnny to the crowd of parents and others gathered on the dock. It was pretty emotional, the beginning of our goodbyes to each other and the ship.

As the last port, Kristiansand was host to graduation for the students. The entire crew was able to attend the ceremony (thanks to some oncoming crew who offered to start a day early to stay with the ship) and it was a great look back at an amazing year.  In the moment all this sailing around the world living on a tall ship seems completely normal but listening to stories and seeing photos from the past year really made me realise what a unique and special experience this is.  It also reflected the growth of everyone on board, especially the students, who have done and learned and experienced so much over these past 9 months. There were many awards to be given and many deserving people to receive them.

The crew went in uniform and although the galley department had the choice of wearing “blues” or normal, but dressy, clothes I went with wearing blues partially to be part of the group but mostly for warmth! (Pants and wool sweater vs. summer dress when it’s 10°C)

There was a reception after the ceremony and a crew party after that.  The students were officially done and headed out to an island for their after grad party.  The maritime and academic crew took over the banjer and enjoyed take-out bought with the profits from Slapps.  Jess and I enjoyed not cooking and being able to eat at the same time as everyone else!

Once grad was over, although the meals kept happening we only had a couple more to do and the rest of our time was busy with packing, cleaning and tying up loose ends before we left the ship.  The two of us (Jess and I) got a hotel room together and spend another couple nights in Norway before heading on to further adventures.

There aren’t a lot of big sights in Kristiansand so we enjoyed some much needed down time (3 episodes of Downton Abbey before lunch!), a few more visits with crewmates, looking around town and a hike through a park, just behind the art centre where the grad ceremony took place.

Next up/what I am currently doing: stop in France to visit a friend before flying home to the ones I love.

Sailing Along - Scotland to Norway

Our last sail of the semester: short and bittersweet.  Not much time to dwell on that though, we were all busy getting ready for our grand arrival in Norway.  Once more there was a deep clean of the ship, getting everything clean and shiny so we’d be looking our best as we brought Sorlandet home.

Of course there were a few “lasts” on this trip, I stood my last night watch (not a daily occurrence on this trip but something I did about 6 times over the semester), we did a last Galley of the Week celebration with ice cream and sprinkles, we bought our last chocolate bars from Slapps and the General Store sold off what it could before closing up.

The captain had his daughter and father visiting on this sail (the novelty of a 5 year old on board was muchly enjoyed by the crew, who cares about language barriers!) and he took a day “off” to enjoy their company.  The replacement captain was picked from the names of those students who had reached a certain level of seamanship and had stood a watch as Apprentice Officer of the Watch.  Adrianna had 24 hours as acting captain, one of her first decisions was to let Sture know he needed to cover her stand-by watch in the afternoon!

Adrianna sitting in the captain's spot for lunch

My roommate, Anna-Marie, celebrated her 30th birthday on this sail and as well as the (Class Afloat) traditional buckets of water dumped on her at 0800 colours, Scandinavian tradition dictates that those turning 30, who are unmarried, get pepper dumped on their heads as well.  Not my idea of a good time but I guess you can’t mess with tradition.

Our last night before arrival was spent at anchor in a beautiful little cove.  We had family dinner in the banjer and in the evening a singer from a shanty choir led us in shanties, ones we knew and ones that were new, another preparation for our grand arrival the next day.

Shore Leave - Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh was the port I had been looking forward to the most and it didn't disappoint! We were docked next to the Royal Yacht Britannia and the Ocean Terminal Mall (not that malls are terribly exciting but useful for buying a SIM card, getting wifi or a bite to eat if you don’t have time to go further into town).  The old town was an easy bus ride away.  I had one day almost completely off (I only worked breakfast) and was able to pack a lot into my one sight-seeing day.  

the Sorlandet as seen from Britannia, Ocean Terminal on the left

When I got off the bus I headed to New Town first. Now New Town is Georgian so it’s still quite old by North American standards but newer then Old Town.  There was lots of bunting up which gave the streets a festive feel.  The streets here are laid out in a grid pattern and had more chain or brand name stores then independent ones.

I also wandered around Old Town which had streets going every which way and many more independent shops and restaurants then New Town.  I found a yarn store and the Greyfriars Bobby statue.

The Royal Mile stretches from the castle down to Holyrood Palace.  I stopped at the Gladstone’s Land, a National Trust property of a 17th century tenement building and a cultural oasis among shops selling kilts, postcards, anything tartan and lambswool/cashmere scarves. 

During the day I made my way through some parks complete with springtime blossoms and cricket players.

Another day I went over to the Royal Yacht Britannia with Jess.  It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between our ship and the Britannia.  For instance, our galley department is 2 people, theirs was 40!  (of course their tablet took 3 hours to set, ours takes about 10 minutes) Both had a little store where crew could buy sweets. Britannia had a post office! Nice as galley may be, that’s where I would like to work!

flags are the same on any ship but these are more organized then ours

So Edinburgh was great, I was able to see a lot but there is still more to explore! For instance, going inside the museums I walked by, getting inside the castle, a trip up to the highlands... here's hoping I can return one day.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sailing Along - the Netherlands to Scotland

Shortest sail of the semester! We left Tuesday afternoon and arrived early Friday morning. 

For the most part the North Sea has been quite calm for us and this continued for the first part of the journey but there was one night that was quite rocky and continued as such well into the morning. We can hardly complain though, it's been smoith sailing for many days. 

The weather has continued to be rather "North-ish" and my long johns are earning their keep. Before the sun comes up one could legitimately go into the walk-in to warm up! Crazy. 

Final exams started after a day and a half of study time. I'm sure all the students (and teachers!) will be happy to have those done for the year. There are 3 blocks of exams before Edinburgh and 2 blocks after. 

We had another time change, finally one where we gain an hour of sleep! Yay! We'll loose it again on the next sail but you have to appreciate each moment as it comes. 

We had a record fast galley clean up, everything done by 7:41! Considering dinner usually continues till 7:30 this is quite an accomplishment! A number of factors contributed to this achievement including it being a one dish meal, everyone on watch got relieved on time so they were able to eat right away and of course a motivated and hard working galley team!

The last night we anchored just outside Edinburgh and came in to port just as my day was starting. Right in front of the Royal yacht Britannia! I think this will be a great port!

Shore Leave - Amsterdam

We arrived in Amsterdam on King's Day, a national holiday which saw thousands of people take to the streets of the city. Customs and immigration was very thorough (read: long) and I didn't have much time off so didn't venture far away which was fine with me. Crowded streets with a party atmosphere isn't exactly my defifinition of a good time! Also we docked on the north shore and the central part of Amsterdam is on the south shore. There was a ferry running every half hour but of course this adds to the travel time of getting anywhere. 

The next day I went to visit my relatives and spent the night off the ship! The first time in four months I've been in a house, it was rather nice though a bit odd at first to walk around in socks and sit on a couch and all. 

It was great to have a home cooked meal and catch up with those I don't see very often. The following morning provisioning for the ship was the top priority but I had a bit of time to go for a walk first. Off to see some tulips in bloom:

And although there wasn't time to go into a museum I at least walked by a couple! (Culture by osmosis?)

Monica (my aunt's sister whom I stayed with) took me to Makro, kind of like a Dutch Costco and I loaded up a cart (or two) with food for my "family" of 55. 

It was rather odd returning to the ship, although I'd been gone less then 24 hours I felt like I had missed a bunch and had catching up to do. 

On our last day I had a couple hours free and made it into the city one more time. Found the only (so I was told) quilting store in Amsterdam and enjoyed looking at fabric, bought an English magazine to read on the next sail, stopped off for wifi and hot chocolate at Melly's Cookie Bar and caught the ferry in time to make it back before departure. 

Amsterdam was the first stop on my backpacking trip in 2007 and being back in the city at the same time of year sure brought back memories!