When I was in grade 11, only 16 years old, I was granted the opportunity to take a semester of school aboard a tall ship sailing the North Atlantic. Class Afloat is an international school aboard a tall ship designed to provide intense academic studies and a unique historical experience from the age of sail. This out of the box thinking allows students to witness first hand the vast differences in people, culture, and environment around the world.
As a girl who was mesmerized by the ocean this challenging voyage was one I couldn’t resist. Myself and 41 other students waved goodbye to the 100 plus parents that stood on the dock in Collingwood, Ontario watching the ship fade into the distance about to change all of our lives forever. We sailed through the Great Lakes taking part in tall ship festivals and a reenactment of the battle of Lake Erie showing respect to all the ships that fought in the war of 1812.
Coincidently, at a festival in Windsor, Ontario I had my first sighting of Sea Dragon docked right beside our massive tall ship. We then embarked on our first Atlantic crossing from Canada to the Azores juggling classes, watch schedules and personal reflections. We felt like pirates racing through the high seas at 14 knots setting an all time Class Afloat record.
With high spirits my shipmates and I took to land in each port with wide eyes and curiosity. The Azores, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands, Senegal, Cape Verde. Filling our young minds with new perspectives and endless possibilities.
We then set out to cross the Atlantic once again, an epic passage using only the wind from the dock in Cape Verde to coming along side in Barbados. Our arrival was just in time for the Christmas holidays. One last celebration before land legs were required and having to say a heart wrenching goodbye to my new found family.
Having experienced Class Afloat I was dedicated to finding a new voyage that could have a global impact. The solution to my search was remembering Sea Dragon and her crew and stumbling upon eXXpedition.
I am grateful to be only 18 and to be witnessing first hand the trouble our oceans face from human pollution. On a scientific note, my high school chem class did not prepare me for a conversation with a professional toxicologist. But having crossed the Atlantic twice before I was ready to harness my inner sailor. Little did I know an all female crew from all different backgrounds, sailing a 72 ft yacht from Senegal, West Africa to Recife, Brazil while trawling for micro plastics is not considered a casual conversation. However, it is an inspiring one.
Over the course of this passage I have been inspired by the evening discussions to make small changes in my life as a consumer, and become an ambassador for my generation. As I look ahead into the future I can clearly see the countless opportunities that will arise from being such an important member of eXXpedition. I hope my efforts and the efforts of others that dare to do the unthinkable to will make an ever lasting change.
- By Amanda Dendys