October began with our arrival in Christmas Island. We visited a local school that generously allowed us to use their facilities for Chemistry labs, sports and music. We were also greeted with a traditional Lion Dance. The rest of our time there mostly consisted of shore leave during which the students went swimming in the Grotto, hung out on the beach, went snorkelling in Flying Fish Cove or hiked to a waterfall. One of the most remarkable things there were the thousands of red and blue crabs all over the island. The locals were very welcoming and even blessed the ship before our departure.
We had our longest sail yet, which was two weeks from Christmas Island to Sri Lanka. The swells were big for a lot of it and the value of sleeping in hammocks really stood out. We often had safety lines set up for getting around on deck and many had moments of seasickness again but overall it was a good sail. The students worked on their Jungmann training, which, among other things, involves familiarization with protective equipment, basic knots, setting and dousing, mooring, naming the sails, and exemplifying the motto “ship, shipmate, self”.
Astronomy Club began where students learn celestial navigation with the sextants onboard. Baking Club also got off to a great start making brownies for snack time the following day.
We also had a “Snow Day”, allowing the students to have a break from classes to catch up on rest, homework or socializing. The day finished off with waffles and ice cream while we all watched the sailing-themed comedy ‘Martha’ projected on the main course sail.
For our second equator crossing, our beloved bosun, Anita, was baptized as a Shellback!
In Sri Lanka, we were introduced to our new Spanish and ESL teacher, Ms. Cuadra, who we are excited to have join our community!
We also had our first overnight stays inland. During these three days we learned about Buddhism at the Golden Rock Temple and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. A definite highlight was the safari in Kaudulla National Park to see wild elephants. We also hiked up Sigiriya rock and learned about the ruins on the summit. Lastly, we went to a cultural show involving lively traditional music and dance, and we visited a tea factory to learn about this major Sri Lankan industry.
When we were back on the ship, local students and news reporters came aboard to learn about the Sorlandet and the A+ program. It was awesome seeing the students share the knowledge they’ve acquired thus far.
Throughout this month the students helped varnish and prepare the royal yards, and in Sri Lanka the maritime crew put up the main royal yard for the first time this school year completing the main mast!
For the last Sunday dinner of October, the students, faculty and maritime crew had a game night and pumpkin carving to prepare for Halloween! We celebrated the following day with a haunted house that Student Council prepared, costumes, trick-or-treating, and the pumpkin carving contest, which Watch 1 won!
“Christmas Island: A Generous and Welcoming Community": Christmas Island was the most welcoming and hospitable port we’ve visited yet! Our experience began when a number of community leaders came aboard minutes after we were finished mooring operations. They gave a great welcome and a brief history of the island. After spending the evening preparing the ship, we had our first few hours of shore leave and began to understand what life and the people of Christmas Island were like: kind, open, and willing to help out visitors without hesitation.
“Sri Lanka: In Search of Elephants and Enlightenment": When we came into port we were introduced to Sri Lanka by a mix of rustic brick buildings, new construction, beautiful temples, and a stupa which stood high above the surrounding buildings. As we came to notice throughout our time here, the country is spotted with intricately designed temples and monuments of Buddha displaying the significance of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
We just left the Maldives and are heading to Mauritius. Both the Maldives and Mauritius will be dedicated to giving students R&R and will be less focused on field studies.
The sail between the Maldives and Mauritius will be our second long sail - around two weeks.
End-of-term-one exams will be written before arrival in Mauritius.
We’ve had such a great time with Captain Odd, who left us in the Maldives. Captain Hallgeir was introduced to the ship this sail, and we are excited for him to be on permanent rotation with the Sorlandet starting with his return in Durban!
We’re happy to have Captain Sture back to sail with us the rest of our way to Durban!