Crossing the Atlantic Ocean


posted by Tilli
posted on 04.12.17

Right now, the Thor Heyerdahl is about to cross the Atlantic Ocean. For the ship and parts of the crew, it‘s not the first time, but for the students and the teachers it‘s a unique adventure. Or if we state it more precisely, with the return trip back home, we will experience this adventure twice.

But before the crossing could even start, there was low and wrong-sided wind, which came from northwest and that was why we had to motor a long way. Furthermore, being left alone by the trade wind, which was supposed to blow us across the ocean, we were forced to stop at the Cape Verde, to fill up the fuel tanks. And so, for the first time, “Classroom under Sail” visited Sal, the small island we landed on. In the evening before arriving in Sal, we students were separated into four expedition groups to explore different parts of the island for the next KUS generations. We collected lots of great information and in the evening, all groups gave a short photo-presentation and it got clear: they loved the excursion; me included. Getting to know this different world and seeing the spirit of Sal has been great. My team explored the south and the highlight was the beautiful beach with mixed white and black sand. After we got back on the Thor, our home, we nearly instantly left the harbour and our journey of crossing the Atlantic finally started with new fuel and lots of new experiences.

A few days later on the ship, a little wellness area developed. Besides the home trainer, which has already been used by a lot of people, and the outdoor shower, our boatswain Nick and his assistants built a pool filled with saltwater on the fore ship. It’s a very nice feeling after a long day or even in the hot midday to jump into this pool and relax. The temperature of the water has pleasant 26°C.
Since we have left the Cape Verde Islands, we were even more frequently visited by marine animals such as: sperm whales, pilot whales, and dolphins. Also the legendary flying fish join us very often. Sadly, a few of them landed on board. The motivated anglers also try to fish some bigger fish but until now unfortunately they have had no luck.

After motoring during the nights and trying to sail throughout the days, finally the trade wind finds its way to us and stops the engine, which is gratefully accepted by everyone. Nearly at the same time we reached the “point of no return”. Even in a worst case we couldn’t go back because we can’t sail against the wind, to the Cape Verde or the European land but have to go on until we will reach America. Our captain Detlef gave us important instructions how to behave in this situation (e.g. to always walk down the companionways backwards), but if something happens, we are looked after quite well by our doctor Christian. It has been a meaningful moment when we were all realizing that we are sailing into the New World right now.
Up to the longitude of 40° west, the baptism of the Atlantic Ocean is normally done. But in our case, we did it a bit earlier because of our speed. It was a unique event for each of us and it was great. Soon there will be another blog post especially about this topic you can read, if you are interested.

Slowly, we all start to get a routine into our days: watch, lessons, watch. The sleeplessness leaves us and we all are enjoying the life on sea, far away from cold and seasickness. The waves are getting very high and the Thor is rolling on them. Sometimes you feel like you’re in a roller coaster, and it’s a lot of fun.

The weather is good to us, so most of the time the sun shines down on us and suntans us friendly. Sometimes clouds overcast the sky and spend some refreshing shade. The nights cool down comfortably and if you’re lucky, you are able to watch the full moon rise over the sea or watch a breathtaking sky full of stars. You truly feel like there are diamonds floating over your head. And if you are interested in stars, like me, it’s nearly easy to identify the constellations.

So there are many cool and fascinating things around us, but they are not always present: Of course there are also times when you are tired and annoyed by the ship, the lessons, or even by the people who are nonstop with you when you cannot go anywhere to be alone. But even these times pass and make place for better thoughts and actions: for example if you climb into the rigging and feel nearly endless freedom with only blue sky and water around you. And, of course, a few ropes to assure your security.

What is still very rare is free time. You nearly always have to do something and if not, you don’t know what to do. We fill the time with having talks or reading a book in the sun. Sometimes relaxing is not as easy as it might sound like. It’s a little bit strange, but we are all getting used to it.

So we are going on to cross the Atlantic Ocean with all its highlights and depths and we will make it to the New World.