In the Fall of 2016, I was lucky enough to travel on a sailing program called Seamester. This was a journey which began in Nice, France and ended in the Caribbean. For three months, I was a crew member on a 112 foot schooner called “Argo”. Most of the crew (like me) were also engaged in college coursework along the way. It was an inspiring trip and prompted me to start this blog. What follows are three posts that record my experiences, and were derived from emails I sent to family and friends during the trip.
October 16, 2016
I am currently sitting in a cafe in Bonifacio, Corsica. So far we have been to Nice, Porto Venere, Elba Island, Cinque Terre, Civitavecchia, Rome, Sardinia, and now Corsica. This trip has been such an amazing learning experience so far and I am loving the traveling aspect. Adjusting has taken some getting used to, and at times I have felt out of place. A lot of people have a lot of boating or diving experience and I have neither, but the staff has been really good about teaching everyone, and there are others who are in the same shoes as me. Everyone on the boat is really nice for the most part and I’m starting to feel comfortable around them. The sailboat is large, but we don’t actually have a lot of space with 27 people on board. The classes we are taking are Oceanography, Marine Biology, Leadership, and Seamanship.
We are headed to Barcelona tomorrow. It will be our first long passage (five days) and we will be docked for four days in Barcelona afterward. For overnight passages, the crew is divided into three watch teams which rotate every four hours so that the boat is always safe underway. This means that sometimes, you have to get up in the middle of the night for a four hour shift (i.e. 12-4 AM). Sleep is interrupted on the overnights, but these night shifts are actually quite nice and peaceful. There are little jobs that we do on watch such as the boat check, helming, or bow watch, where we go onto the bow and watch for any incoming ships. Bow watch is probably my favorite because it is the most relaxing and you sit with another person and fall into deep conversation. I also LOVE helming, it is easier than I thought and you use the stars as a navigation guide, which is a great excuse to look at the stars!
I am loving the shore time and it is so fun to experience all the different destinations. I have met some very nice locals as well. After Barcelona, I believe we are headed to Mallorca, and then from there I think it will be Granada, Gibraltar, Morocco, Canary Islands, Atlantic crossing, Dominica, Les Saintes, and Antigua. I am still trying to get over how much I have already absorbed from this trip and there is still so much more to experience.
My impressions of the places we have been to so far:
Nice: Beautiful waterfront, I would like to live here someday(!), relaxed atmosphere in town, stylish
Monaco: Fancy, fancy, fancy! Fun to roam around a small country with royalty
Porto Venere: Quiet, beautiful architecture, a place to get away from everything, cute shops
Cinque Terre: Fantastic hiking trails, five star views, friendly locals, a true destination, a favorite of mine
Elba Island: Fancy harbor, expensive shops, nice restaurants, terrific hiking, lots of history
Civitavecchia: Industrial port that allowed us to get to Rome
Rome: My favorite memories were the Colosseum, Vatican City, and the Forum!
Sardinia: We were anchored there for a few days but unfortunately never got to disembark. It looked so amazing however, and it is officially on my bucket list to make a trip back!
Bonifacio, Corsica: Nice little place, I would definitely come back here, fancy shops and dining, great hiking, lots of history, amazing views