The school ship Sørlandet , the region's pearl, set out again voyage with 84 people on board on Monday 22 August. It is the sixth time she has sailed a school year with students who will complete their second year of high school at the exchange school A+ World Academy on board « Sørlandet ». She will return home on 3 June 2023.
- It is so much fun that we are really succeeding in bringing the school ship traditions into our time in this way, says director of the Foundation The Ship Sørlandet , Knut Arne Gjertsen. He is also chairman of the board of the subsidiary A+ World Academy. - This year it is completely full on board. 64 pupils aged 16-17 have been given a place at the school. It is a new record, he says.
Bringing the traditions into our modern times
The Ship Sørlandet is a unique cultural heritage from maritime Norway under sail. Previously, she was a school ship for seamanship training of school ship boys. Now she is available for further education and adventure sailing.
Every year, she sails with students who are completing their second year at upper secondary school, while at the same time taking part in everything related to the operation and progress of the nearly 100-year-old The Ship . There will be 84 people on board this school year. - An educational journey, says Gjertsen. They go out as young girls and boys, and come home as young adult men and women.
- This school year we have set several records, says Gjertsen. We have increased the capacity to 64 students, and after several years of dominance by girls, almost half of each gender is on board this year. We are also well on our way to reaching the target of 50 per cent international students when this year we will have 17 students from 9 different nations with us. It will be an international environment where students will get to know each other's cultures. The language on board is English. The only thing we now lack is a stronger proportion of pupils from the Sørland region.
The school year starts with orientation meetings at Caledonia for students and families on Sunday. There is a lot to be organized and information to be shared in connection with the more than 9-month long voyage. On Monday 22 August, the pupils mustered on board where a school staff of 8 and a maritime crew of 12 await them. Then the adventure begins.
« Sørlandet » set out in the afternoon and the activities on board are dominated by finding one's place, getting to know many new people, safety training and sailing training. In between, the schooner makes a quick trip home to stock up on equipment and supplies for the long voyage.
On 17 September, a new crew comes on board and both the ship and everyone on board are ready for the long journey. During the school year, they will visit St. Malo (France), Setúbal (Portugal), Cartagena (Spain), and Madeira before there is a parents' meeting in Las Palmas. Between the port visits, there will be surprise stops at places the students may never have the opportunity to visit later in life. Christmas is spent in Cape Verde – an archipelago north-west of Africa.
Just before the New Year, the first Atlantic crossing starts. After about 3 weeks at sea, it calls Grenada. In the Caribbean, they will visit ports such as Bequia, St. Martin before there is a new parent meeting in Puerto Rico. They then set course for Bermuda and a new Atlantic crossing to the Azores. The students' exams will be held in Scheveningen, the Netherlands before sailing on to the home port of Kristiansand, where they are expected home on 3 June 2023.
Life on board will be characterized by schooling at the same time as the students learn and participate in the operation of the sailing ship. They act as sea guards and take part in the work of setting, furling and furling the sails. Tasks such as lookout, helmsman, cleaning and maintenance are also included. All the students live in banjers - a large dormitory with hammocks that is converted into a dining room for meals and a classroom for school hours.
The port visits are an important part of the education. The students learn about the countries and cultures at the same time as they contribute to charitable causes such as clearing beaches of plastic, distributing food to the needy and more. They also visit schools, businesses and museums.
- They live and work so close to each other this school year and are developing social qualities that I have probably spent a large part of my life learning, says the 60-year-old Gjertsen. It is definitely an educational journey.