High School on a Ship
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Happy and hard-working in Harlingen, Netherland

By Kelsey Hamel | Jun 30, 2017 | Field Studies

Our arrival in Harlingen was certainly a unique one: We sailed the Sorlandet onto a giant “elevator” which raised her out of the water and into the dry dock.

Seeing her entire hull out of the water gave us an appreciation for how majestic she is! Although we faced a few challenges in dry dock, especially in dealing with the rainy weather and strong winds typical of the Netherlands, with a team effort we managed to complete the required maintenance tasks such as cleaning the anchor chain, retiling the floor and painting the hull to prepare her for her final grand arrival day of the year!

After finishing their final exams on the last sail, the students got some much needed shore leave time. Many of them had a quintessential Netherlands experience exploring Harlingen and other small towns in the area by bike. Many of us even took a day trip to Amsterdam. Although this city is popular among tourists for its coffee shops and red light district, it has so much more to offer! The students took it all in wandering through the narrow cobble stone streets, walking along the canals, and appreciating the art at the Van Gogh Museum. It’s a city with so much character and even has more bikes than people!

For our first day of field studies, we made our way to the nearby town of Franeker. Our first stop was Martena Museum which was set in a modest-sized city castle. We wandered through taking in the eclectic mix of exhibits including paintings of Frisian children and other historical figures, and a room dedicated to the former university of Franeker.

Our second stop was the Royal Rise Eisinga Planetarium. In the 18th century, the original owner built this planetarium inside his home with the hopes of easing people’s fears that the world would end. He displayed how the planets moved around the sun through a system of gears and mechanics controlled by a weighted pendulum similar to a grandfather clock. Through the maintenance manual he left, the planetarium is still fully operational with complete accuracy today!

For our second day of field studies, we were shown around the Maritime Academie Harlingen and got a taste for what the students study in this vocational school. One of our students, Joakim, even got to try out the impressive sailing simulator they developed to help the students train for real world application.

On our final day we had our last big provision and used cranes and scissor lifts to get the food and other necessities on board. Before we departed, we welcomed the alumni from the class of 2016 back onto the Sorlandet! As they accompanied us on our last sail, they took the time to talk to the students about what to expect when they return home and how to cope with some of the challenges they might face reintegrating into their old life after growing so much from the incredible experience they’ve had the past 10 months. It was a great opportunity to reflect and share wisdom, stories, and experiences as we made our way to Denmark for a quick pickup stop before taking the Sorlandet back home to Kristiansand!