Tranquility returns to Oceanco for an extensive refit

Captain Bisscheroux reaches America with School at Sea

Learning about Lilya’s adventure sponsored by Oceanco – Part two

Imagine being 15 years old and spending six months on sea, traveling 12.873 nautical miles across the Atlantic ocean, visiting exotic sites, learning to sail, and keeping up with your schoolwork. With School at Sea, Lilya Bisscheroux set out on this journey with Oceanco as her main sponsor.

You can read the first part of her adventures here. Continue reading to discover the second part of her journey! ⛴️

The first view of Dominica Island, after crossing the Atlantic!

Captain’s log: once upon a time in the Caribbeans and Panama.

The last couple of days of the big crossing, I was allowed to be the captain of the ship takeover. Wait what?!? Yes, the last 300 miles to Dominica, it was captain Bisscheroux who took the lead over the ship. During the five ship takeovers we had, the crew took a step back and gave us the opportunity to fulfill the role we applied for. I had the honour to be captain, deckhand, part of the kitchen team, starting up the yearbook and finally, helmsman. From start ‘till end I have learnt so much during those couple of days, whichever role I was allowed to take on. Receiving the responsibility, trust and independence which is necessary to carry out your task, in order to bring it to a success. With a crew of our friends on board, we worked together to make sure the Thalassa reached the next destination safely. The night we arrived to Dominica is one that I will carry with me forever. Anchoring in the bay of Portsmouth, stepping out of the wheelhouse and being able to announce: “CONGRATULATIONS WITH YOUR FIRST EVER OCEAN CROSSING!!!”.

View of Dominica, Commonwealth of Dominica.

It was a truly exhilarating moment and, amidst many other magical moments, for me one of the most beautiful nights of those six months. We stayed on Dominica for three weeks and I think I may speak for all of us when I say that we fell in love with this island. We had much free time, expeditions to the Boiling Lake, to the Rastafari community there and to other places on the island. We snorkeled in beautiful bays, climbed up waterfalls and got to know the local flora and fauna… We celebrated Christmas and New Year and had the best three weeks. Equally important though, Dominica also was home to more serious talks about the group process. What things should we change and how can we really make the most out of these six months? If I were to describe all of this in a way that does justice to what it truly meant, I think I’d accidentally end up writing a book. All this to say that it was magical. Magical in the way that every destination and each mile of our trip was unique.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park jungle expedition to the Boiling Lake in Dominica.

The Boiling Lake, a World Heritage Site on the island of Dominica.

That is way too little to describe the time we spent on Dominica, but after those three weeks we inevitably said our goodbyes to the bay and set sail towards Curaçao. There we stayed a few days for stores and to call home, after which we continued our journey to Panama. On the morning of my sixteenth birthday we arrived at the beautiful San Blas islands. Waking up on the aftdeck, surrounded by my closest friends singing happy birthday to me, seeing the little islands in the turquoise sea with palm trees standing in the sun… There is no way to start a birthday in a more special way. We spent two nights doing a survival on one of the islands, where we made our acquaintance with the Kuna Yala people, native inhabitants of the island group. With improvised Spanish on our side, we learnt a bit about their lifestyle, culture and the food they cook and, without needing any words, we played with their children.

Lilya in Curaçao, part of the Dutch Caribbean.

The San Blas Islands of Panama, where Lilya celebrated her birthday.

The improvised Spanish turned out to be a theme. Also when we moved to the mainland and got to explore Panama on our own, we were dependent on our Spanish skills. For ten days we traveled all through Panama with small groups, accompanied by a teacher for safety. We arranged everything ourselves: ranging from Spanish phone calls with hotel receptionists to asking how much 200 grams of chicken costs in the local supermarket. It was an experience which brought us closer to the country we visited and challenged us to get out of our comfort zone. Getting to know Panama was really special and it was one of the destinations we saw most of.

Panama City, the capital and largest city of Panama in central America.

Follow us in the next Captain’s log as we recount Lylia’s voyage.

We will see you at the next destination: Azores!

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