Crossing the South Atlantic Ocean is a dream many people have, but never can realize. They don’t find the time or the right friends to do it with. We have the possibility to make this great experience during our school time and to learn about what we see.
As we left St. Cruz de Tenerife, Ruth and Detlef told us many times not to fall down any stairs, not to run or jump (as always on a ship), always to wear shoes during our watch time, always to drink and sleep enough… simply to take care of ourselves and of each other, because we can’t just call an ambulance or go to the nearest hospital; on the Atlantic Ocean you are nearly alone.
For that reason it was good that Wolfgang, our doctor joined us in Tenerife. During my watch I saw him arrive and I brought him straight to Johannes, our first mate. He was laying in bed with bronchitis and was hoping that Wolfgang would be able to help him. Finally, Johannes had to stay in St Cruz from where he flew back to Germany after a few days in hospital. But you really can’t sail across the Atlantic Ocean without first mate. The plan was that Richard, who joined us in Tenerife, too and Johannes would be the first and second mates, and that Ruth could fly back to Germany to organize the next KUS trip. Sonja should take over Ruth’s position on board and be the project manager. As always in life, something makes you change all plans you’ve made. So it came that Sonja said hello to all of us and flew back to Germany. Richard and Ruth became the mates and Wolfgang became the lookout from 8 to 11 am and pm.
Guided by dolphins, lessons started soon. Everyone was excited and every time they started and ended with applause. Since there always has to be a watch on the poop-deck you have lessons only every second day and on Sundays there isn’t any school work to do. That really sounds quite good, doesn’t it? But to revise the topics talked about in lessons, to do exercises and to deepen your knowledge you have only one and a half hours every second day, so concentration is required.
Food is very important for the spirit on board. But eating yellow (once green) 2 weeks old salad out of the cold store isn’t that great. And, of course, when you cross the Atlantic Ocean, why shouldn’t you eat fresh fish? Therefore a few students accepted the challenge and threw out the fish hooks. And… it worked! Every time a fish was caught everyone helped to pull it in and then Frank, our biology teacher, gave us a practical lesson about how to remove the organs. It’s amazing how much you learn when you don’t read it in books but see and feel it.
We hardly worked with the sails because the passat winds blew constantly and strongly so we could focus on our living on board as well. Many student meetings were spent on the aspects of living together in a small place as the “Thor”. One of the most important points, so we found out, is communication. Sometimes you are misunderstood and when it is in an important situation and has to go fast during a jibe that can be a big problem.
Finally, our ability to communicate was tested during the last three days of the crossing. We, the students, took over the ship. Days before the big day most of us started to write their letters of motivation. Finally Ruth told us who were the lucky ones to bring us to the New World. With Bene and Linn as project managers, Nico and Miron as mates and Fabian as captain we reached St Vincent and the Grenadines early in the morning of the 13th December. Then Detlef guided us to Palm Island as our “pilot”, where we swam the last 100 meters to the white beach. Eating coconuts we couldn’t believe that it was true: We had sailed over the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean! We did what Columbus did! We reached the New World.