All hands on deck: The student crew of the S&oslash;rlandet said they have really enjoyed their shore leave on the island.<em> *Photo by Kageaki Smith</em><br />
All hands on deck: The student crew of the Sørlandet said they have really enjoyed their shore leave on the island. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
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FRIDAY, MARCH 23: A crew of students from a Canadian school on a globetrotting trip on a tall ship yesterday gave the thumbs-up to Bermuda.

Graham Sullivan, 18, from British Columbia, said: “It’s amazing — we had lots of shore leave in Bermuda and it’s fantastic.”

Will Evans, 16, also from British Columbia, said: “It’s been great — Bermuda is awesome.”

Ancestor

He added that he had a family connection to the island. His great-grandfather Ernest Evans was mayor of St George’s and he had been able to visit the house his relative lived in.

Will said: “It’s a bit like discovering the family mansion.”

The pair are part of a 40-strong group from Novia Scotia’s West Island College International on board the Norway-based Sørlandet sailing ship, who are spending up to a school year learning while sailing.

The ship arrived last Sunday and was due to sail yesterday on the homeward leg of the trip, back across the Atlantic to Europe and then the Sørlandet’s home port of Kristiansand.

The ship, which is regularly chartered by the school as part of its Class Afloat programme, has visited ports in Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean.

Admissions associate Holly Clarke said the pupils came from an international background, with some on this trip from Mexico, Germany and Turkey, as well as Canada and the US.

She added that Bermudian schoolchildren had also taken part in the Class Afloat scheme and that she had visited schools on the island to promote its benefits while docked in Hamilton.

No Internet

Ms Clarke added: “It’s really about taking students out of their comfort zones — they don’t have Internet on board. They study on board and do community work and cultural exchanges when in port.

“It’s an alternative to a traditional gap year when students stop their studies. This way, they’re getting both experiences at the same time.

“When we’re sailing, students are considered crew, so they stand watches and help out around the ship, although they’re not asked to do anything they’re not comfortable with, so not all of them climb the rigging, for example.

“Students who complete the programme are more mature, rounded and cultured than when they left. We were in Bermuda last year as well and we were really well-received.”

The Sørlandet, now owned by a charitable foundation, is the oldest full-rigged ship still working. Its mainmast is 35 metres
tall and the vessel is 64 metres long.

It was used as a sail training ship for the Norwegian Merchant Navy until 1974.