Tranquility returns to Oceanco for an extensive refit

Six months aboard with School at Sea

Learning about Lilya’s adventure sponsored by Oceanco – Final part

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 previous part of her journey here. Continue reading below to discover the final part of her adventure! ⛴️

Thalassa arriving at the Azores Islands.

Captain’s log: every ship will arrive at its end destination

After that, we continued to the Azores. Twentythree days of headwind made us change course to Bermuda though. There we could rest for a day and get some stores on board again. After that, with full wind in our sails, we were able to navigate the last miles to the Azores. A safe haven in the middle of an endless ocean, a couple of islands in an ungraspable amount of blue. I assume my readers will get bored if I keep describing everything as “magical”, but visiting places like this is not to be expressed with any other words within my vocabulary. Human language is not fit to describe the adventures we’ve experienced, the places that welcomed us, the life we lived during that half year.

Faial was different from any other place I visited in my life. The sights were enchanting and the significance of the place throughout history left you at a lack of words. The weeks after the Azores consisted of the last leg to the Netherlands, previously known as “home”, two more ship take-overs, getting used to the idea of saying goodbye and finally, saying our goodbyes. The beauty of it all also showed us the privilege of feeling at home in places other than what we are taught to be home. It’s not your house that makes you feel safe, that makes you feel like you fit within the greater picture. It’s the feeling of being “at home”, whether that is with my parents in my home (which luckily hasn’t moved an inch), or on a constantly moving ship with a group of friends that I got to call home for six months and always will. All of us were incredibly lucky to be able to feel this at our age, and the thought of discovering many more home’s in the life that’s ahead, gives a thrilling sense of comfort.

The sailing manoeuvres of Thalassa.

Lilya’s friends while adjusting Thalassa’s sails.

Amidst all of this independence and learning of taking on new responsibilities, we also were allowed to take our schoolwork into our own hands. I was on top of all the tests that were coming, all the work I had to do, making a planning, checking off assignments on the to-do list and most importantly, asking for help when it didn’t work out. We had five teachers on board, of which one was our mentor and one the project coordinator. Our mentor helped us with our planning whenever we asked, but also gave us the space to figure it out on our own if we were up for that responsibility. I really enjoyed this way of working and made everything of it that I could, so I was able to also enjoy all the other things to the fullest.

We always had two watch days, in which we sailed the ship with our watch group. During that time we did chores, took care of everything on deck that needed taking care of and next to that, did some school and caught up on the missed hours of sleep. Those two watchdays were routinely followed by two schooldays, in which we’d work on school from 8 am to 5 pm. One of the things I loved about being on our way was the calmth and rhythm that came over the ship when this routine was in place during sailing days. The ship suddenly feels a bit bigger, because everyone is at their place, knows where they have to go and what they have to do. Everyone is doing their own thing in a peaceful way. However, you can always find each other and in the end, it was all of us who were making sure that the ship could keep sailing and under the lead of our captain reach the next destination. This feeling of being “on our way” was one of my favourites. Being on our way somewhere, it didn’t really matter where. Where we’d end up was somewhere we could explore once we arrived, being nowhere was something we could enjoy while we hadn’t arrived.

School At Sea 2021-2022 painting on the Horta, Faial harbour (Portugal).

At some point, all adventures come to an end. However much I enjoyed the state of not yet arriving somewhere, every ship will arrive at its end destination. That’s the nostalgic beauty of it all. Leaving home made us get acquainted with the first part of homesickness, arriving home revealed the full meaning of it. Without departing on your first big adventure, it would have never taken place, but never coming home would mean never going on new exciting adventures. All I can describe it as, is a fantastic, unimaginable, thrilling, exciting, challenging, fun and simply magical adventure. I could use a hundred other words, but I don’t need to use any words to make people who have lived such adventures understand. Those who haven’t, will not know, no matter how many words I would use. From the core of everything that the past half year was, I’d wish everyone to embark on such journeys, whether they are far away or not so far away.

The huge help I received to make this wish come true, showed me the incredible importance of helping people in fulfilling their dreams, however impossible they may seem. I don’t yet know in what way, but I do know that this adventure will translate into something I can give back to other people. Understanding the value of fulfilling your own dreams and helping others do the same, is one that will give us many stories to tell and many more stories to listen to in awe. It is a value that Oceanco has proved to me that they understand and because of that I’m here to tell my story of those six months at sea. It is impossible to convey all the things I have learnt. Every time I share my memories, I think another small bit is revealed. People telling such stories always inspired me and being able to do the same fills me with the greatest joy.

“May all adventures that have been lived inspire a generation of storytellers and may all stories inspire the most beautiful adventures.”

Once more, we would like to thank Lilya for sharing her experience of School at Sea with us. Oceanco wishes you the best of luck on your next adventure.