Tall ship lights up for Christmas

‘Sørlandet’, el velero noruego de mástiles altos llega a Panamá.

This post is also available in: Spanish

On-the-Water by Ilene Little

Sighting a Tall Ship is always a memorable event but sailing past a tall ship decorated for Christmas is really something special. Landlubbers can enjoy the spectacle too. The Norwegian tall ship, Sørlandet, the oldest fully operational tall ship in the world, will be anchored just off the Flamenco Marina until December 23rd.

Norwegian tall ship, ‘Sørlandet’, arrives in Panama.

Norwegian tall ship, ‘Sørlandet’, arrives in Panama.

Sørlandet, which measures 65 meters overall, is an international boarding school sailing around the world; a floating classroom for the 15 students age 15 to 21 on board. The vessel set sail in August 2015 from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to navigate the oceans of the world. They have a crew of nine faculty members and 11 professional crew.

Carly Hills, B.A., B.Ed., OCT, who teaches English and Social Science aboard Sørlandet said: “After Flamenco, our next stop is The Galapagos. We depart from Panama City the morning of December 23 and plan to arrive by December, 30.” They will celebrate Christmas aboard, and plan to sail with their mizzenmast decorated as a Christmas Tree.

The journey has been exciting and rewarding on many different levels according to Hills, “when you’re moving through areas of the world known to be less than safe, it demands your full attention.”

“We were just leaving Curaçao when a fishing boat we passed altered course to intercept our path. We altered course again, and they did the same to adjust to our new heading. The captain announced that he didn’t think it was a pirate ship, but because the ship kept altering its course we were to take the precautions we had practiced in drills. We stood by the braces to make any necessary sail changes, and got the fire hoses ready to defend ourselves and the ship,” said Hill.

Carly Hills (on left) pictured aboard tall ship Sørlandet, where she teaches English and Social Studies.

Carly Hills (on left) pictured aboard tall ship Sørlandet, where she teaches English and Social Studies.

“It was just a fishing boat, but you never know. It seems the crew of the fishing boat were drinking and on a spree; just sightseeing, but their actions did raise our concerns,” she said.

The only bad weather they have encountered was sailing from Morocco. “We had a pretty hectic night because we were heeled over in a strong wind and a sheet got cast off and the block was flailing around the deck causing sparks to fly. The crew handled it expertly,” she said.

Hills feels she has found her calling in life. “I love it,” she said, “I could live on a ship for the rest of my life. When we first set sail, there were some pretty strong winds and people were getting sea sick, but I remember standing at the bow and thinking ‘oh, my gosh, I want to do this forever’.”

Hills loves fixing little problems on the ship; even stripping down wood brackets and scraping varnish. “When you’re teaching, you never know the end result of what you’ve taught; how much the students have absorbed, but when you’re doing something with your hands, you have proof of an immediate accomplishment of having fixed something. I love to see my work; that something is finished, and then to add to that I’m traveling, learning and exploring constantly,” concluded Hill.

To learn more about the sailing school, visit www.aplusacademy.org

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