A week at sea on Spirit of Bermuda
A group of M3 students including myself returned recently from an exciting week of sailing and seamanship on the sloop Spirit of Bermuda. There were 15 of us in total.
We were divided into three “watches” or groups.
The watches were mizzen watch, fore watch and the main watch.
There were six people in the mizzen watch, five in fore watch and four in the main watch. I was part of fore watch.
Every watch had to get up at different hours throughout the night up until seven o’clock in the morning. Every watch had to do a night guard.
We had to measure the water depth to make sure it was the same depth all night so that the boat did not run aground.
We also had to use a compass to measure the different points all throughout the night to make certain that we were not drifting off. There was a small boat that was secured to our stern and we had to make sure that it was there throughout the night.
On one of the masts, there was a light which shone at night so that we could inform other boats that we were anchored in a particular spot.
The Spirit of Bermuda is about 112 feet in length, and weighs 88 tonnes. It is a Bermuda-rigged sloop with four sails and three masts. While on the sloop, we had to learn a lot of different skills in order to operate the boat.
These skills included hoisting and taking down sails.
There was a system called “two-six” in which we had to say “heave” and then that would help us to be pulling as a team when we were raising the sails.
We learnt certain commands for when we were on the helm and steering the ship, including “port”.
We had regular swimming exercises throughout the week.
When we jumped in, as Bermudians, we thought the water was “freezing”, but the longer we stayed in the warmer it got!
All week, the weather was wonderful. When we went snorkelling, the weather did change for a bit and we thought it was going to be really bad because of storm clouds and rain.
Then it cleared up and the weather was beautiful again.
Some of the exciting things that I learnt were how to sail and steer the boat, pulling the sails up and down, measuring the water depth and the names of various different fish which were always in the area.
I also learnt how to start the engine on the boat and the names of lots of different parts of the engine to help the boat motor along smoothly.
Overall, it was very enjoyable. I liked everything about my week including a special visit we made to Nonsuch Island in Castle Harbour, to explore there.
I liked it so much that I wanted to stay longer. If I could, I would love to go again. The experience was unforgettable (and the food was great as well!).
I think that everyone should get a chance to sail on Spirit of Bermuda because it is a great learning experience.
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