Sailing the North Sea and the English Channel – by Jan

schueler-jan-kopieAfter a long day in the Kiel Channel, we saw it, the great door which was the last barrier between us and the North Sea. When the gate of the lock was opened, the sun shone in our faces. It is very exciting what we will discover. In a few hours we will leave the German territory behind us and won’t come back in the next 6 months. The first nightwatch under sail wasn’t an easy one for us. We had to gybe, so we had to shift sails to the other side of the ship. A few minutes later the wind changed its direction. The result was that we had to haul the sails tighter.
In the morning the North Sea said ‚Good morning‘ to us with a cold and fresh breeze. During the day the wind got stronger and stronger, logically the waves also got higher and higher. In the night a disease well known among sailors began to make some trouble in some of our stomachs: SEASICKNESS. After a short time the number of absentees in the watches began to increase from shift to shift. Sometimes more than half of our watch got seasick, even some of the crew. In the next days the North Sea showed its nasty and unfeeling side to us. Normal everyday life on board lost its importance. Luckily I wasn’t seasick, but for some of us it was a very hard time. Some students and some of the main crew couldn’t even go below deck. They stayed on the poop deck and sat on benches or hung (secured by harnesses) over the sea-rails. The guys who weren’t seasick helped the others. They offered them water, crackers and ship’s bisquit (Zwieback).
When we made it through the English Channel, most of the seasick people were cured from seasickness and everyday life came slowly back on board.
The Channel itself is a very busy marine traffic route, so you have to be very alert in the lookout. On the 20th October we crossed the Greenwich meridian at about 4 o’clock in the morning. Watch 2 told us that it was like New Year’s Eve. Everyone stayed around the GPS and stared on the degrees of longitude.
And finally, on the 21 October, we could see the lighthouse of Falmouth in front of us. It was a beautiful morning. Since the night, the clouds got less every hour. When the sun was rising the grey clouds turned into awesome orange-coloured clouds. The sea had changed its colour into a deep blue tone. Just in this moment somebody shouted from the fore deck: ‚Dolphins! Dolphins in front of the bow!‘. Everybody who had time came to the fore deck. Armed with cameras and camcorders we stood at the bulwark and waited for the dolphins. And then there they were. Five or six dolphins swam under our bow or jumped out of the waves next to us! It was just an unbelievable scene. For me it was like in a TV documentary, which now happened in real life. It was truly unbelievable.
After that, we arrived in the harbor of Falmouth at ten o’clock in the morning and we were happy that we had reached our first stop, and we looked forward to our time on land.
This leg of our journey was a part with some bad moments like seasickness, but there were also good moments like dolphins or the ’seaman’s breakfast‘. All in all, sailing the North Sea and the English Channel was a trip where we gained a lot of experience and we learned to handle some very important things, to live with seasickness, and learned about everyday life on board or many nautical techniques.