Crew members and students on the sailing ship “De Wylde Swan”. © TEH Amsterdam. Six weeks on a sailboat through the Caribbean? That sounds like an unforgettable adventure. When 25 Dutch students boarded the plane in Amsterdam at the beginning of March, no one could have imagined how unforgettable this trip would be. Due to the Corona crisis, the students were suddenly stuck.
There was no thought of a flight home. It didn’t help: they had to set sail. Now the young Dutch are on their way home.
First, the 14- to 17-year-olds boarded the sailing ship “De Wylde Swan” on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. They lived there and received lessons in nature and sustainability. With the two-master, you should sail through the Caribbean. To fly to Cuba and from there back home – that was the plan.
But then the coronavirus came. Country after country sealed itself off in response to the pandemic. “A return flight was no longer possible,” recalls Christophe Meijer from the Masterskip organization, which organizes the youth trips on the ship. Even a stay on Sint Maarten – perhaps for several months – did not seem to be a very reassuring prospect given the poor health system there.
The experienced crew and the students decided to cross over. When the ship recently moored in the Azores, the youngsters were finally able to call home. The mood onboard is good, reports organizer Meijer. The students are like in a heroic frenzy and said: “We bring ourselves home”. And apparently no one is bored even without the Internet. The students play a lot, have been given extra homework, and everyone has to lend a hand on board anyway.
The ship reached the Iberian Peninsula on Tuesday, then headed for the English Channel. Depending on the wind and weather conditions, the ship will arrive in Harlingen in Friesland next week.