A letter to my students

Datum: 4. April 2016
Position: 38°11,5’N, 035°23,1’W
Etmal: 155 nm
Wetter: Wasser 17°C, Luft 19°C, Wind 4-5 Bft.
von Patrick

As you have probably noticed, I am not a man of many words but before leaving you I would like to write a few words. When I met you all for the first time in Ostend I found a bunch of kids in front of me, quite shy, some even too shy to say hello. All of you were wondering what the future would bring and how to behave in this new environment, with an unknown crew and with some grumpy captains. A new life started. When I met you back in the Bermudas you all had that look that seamen have, straight ahead, sure about yourself and I met a bunch of young adults. After the last days together on board I could observe you and discovered a bunch of lovely young and responsible people.

This journey on board the Roald Amundsen will be a lifetime experience for you. You will carry this luggage with you, even without realising immediately, for the rest of your life and you will apply it in your future family life and in your professional career. You have learned how to live together, sleep together, eat together, work together, having fun together, support each others qualities and faults, all this in a restricted area aboard this lovely Old Lady, with strict rules of discipline and hierarchy. You have learned how to help each other in more difficult times and to laugh in better days. You know now how it feels to take on responsibilities, in the beginning it was all a bit scary but later on with a feeling of great satisfaction. You felt proud about your undiscovered capacities. Slowly but surely you became a full member of the crew. That’s how I observed you.

In a few weeks you will go and meet your old friends and your families again. You will discover „civilisation“ again, but I can tell you, you will feel disappointed because this ideal world you left a few months ago is not as ideal as you imagined it to be while being at sea. People won’t recognize you because you are different now. As for yourself, you will find a lot of those people boring, they haven’t changed. They will ask questions about huge storms and sea-monsters. But telling them about your daily life on board will not be sufficient. Those who never sailed think that the sea is just a lot of water and a lot of wind, every day the same. You cannot tell them that this water and this wind has been ruling your life daily. Every morning, the day, the sea and the wind were different. You would like to tell them how you really felt on board but this is hidden too deep in your heart and only a skilled painter would be able to apply the right colour to your words and feelings in order to make even you understand. One by one, all of you have large capacities and a great heart. Be convinced of that and even if somebody tries to tell you the contrary, don’t believe them but show them your firm seaman’s look and prove them wrong.

After having been politely listening to your stories for half an hour, anyhow they won’t understand you dearly and, all of a sudden, they will tell you their most important news of the last week: the neighbour“s cat broke her neck when she fell from the roof… Poor cat, but probably you don’t give a … For you, life has evolved yet again into a small village in a big world. After a few weeks at home you will feel like calling your Roaldie friends again and discuss things you shared closely during all those wonderful days. You will meet again, maybe in 10 years and you will feel good again as if you only left each other the day before. You will feel like this Old Lady was your home for all of you and you liked her for that. You trusted her for bringing you safely from one harbour to another and you will always remember her for that.

So don“t be too disappointed when you meet „civilisation“ again. You’ll get used to it, anyhow you will have to, but it will take time. I joined you after leaving my wife, two cousins and a friend of us, all of them hurt after the bomb attack in this so called civilised world. This world has also changed after seven months of absence. I felt bad to leave my love on her own with all the problems. But she agreed and insisted that I should go on board. I promised to join you and so I did. After 46 years at sea she knows that she won“t change her Captain of her heart any more and she is even proud of that. So, yet again, don’t be too sad when you arrive back in reality. And if you have a bad day then go back and read Ana’s Tagesmeldung once more: „Genieße den Tag“.

I dare write all this because together with my lovely wife we experienced the same when we came back from sea. After five years of traveling we had to make new friends at home, mostly people who had been abroad. Then the village becomes the world again. I wish you all a bright future. I will be waiting for you again in Ostend and, who knows, maybe one day on board the Roald you will be one of my crew. I am proud and happy to have been your Captain Grumpy.

PS: Thanks a lot for not poisoning us with your marvelous cooking.