Tall Ships in Stavanger during the Tall Ships Races 2018 Windseeker

Changing the way we think: Looking for Sustainable Horizons

Gulden Leeuw, July/August 2019
The Hague - London - Amsterdam

– by Trainees

Participating countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, France, UK and Italy.


The Logbook

27th of July 2019

Already on the bus on my way to The Hague I met another trainee with whom I found the Gulden Leeuw. We arrived quite early. On the ship there was a group of Italian trainees who had been on the Gulden Leeuw for a while already, and some of them were good at helping me out and getting me settled on the ship. Later we were divided into watches, with whom I became quick friends. We were introduced to the general systems on the ship. In the evening, we played games that trainees introduced from different countries.


28th of July 2019

On the 28th we all learned a lot about the practicalities on the ship, as well as safety rules, etc. We also did a beach clean-up in Scheveningen.

Welcome on Board!

At first glance, the beach did not look dirty at all, so when we got to it we all became very surprised at how much rubbish was there. It felt very rewarding to contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable beach, but at the same time, it was depressing knowing how little of a difference we made. After the clean-up, we discussed sustainability in our watch groups, and it was very interesting to hear the views and opinions of different people.


29th of July 2019

The 29th was the first day we got to sail and be in the watches. It was a lot of fun learning about how to sail the ship, and I really bonded with the people in my watch since we had to work together and rely on each other.


30th of July 2019

This day I was on galley duty, which meant that I had to help prepare the food, serve it, do the dishes after meals and clean the kitchen. I had two other people working in the galley with me.

Unfortunately the seas got quite rough and I started feeling seasick, but as trainees we were good at helping each other out, so someone took my watch in the galley during lunch. Instead I helped on deck and got some fresh air, which helped a lot with my seasickness. I was then able to help with dinner and the dishes. In the end, it turned out to be a lot of fun working in the galley thanks to my two partners. We also had the British country presentation. They talked about the different regions of England, the culture, history and current affairs.

Short beach cleanup


31st of July

We arrived in London on the 31st of July. The mentors introduced the teabag challenge, where each of us got a teabag and had to exchange it for something else. This challenge was a lot of fun, because I got to speak to new people in a fun way. We could also invite people to the ship for an open night.


1st of August 2019

The day began with all the trainees eating breakfast and packing lunches to take with us for after the Thames clean-up. Having become close friends with a lot of people on the ship already, because of the bonding experience of working together on the ship, breakfast was very enjoyable as I could socialize with the other trainees and crew. After breakfast we made our way to the Thames where we did the clean-up. It was really a learning experience of just how much our actions affect the environment, and it was good to share the experience with the other trainees. Afterwards, I talked with my friends on the ship and we compared the different infrastructures of our home countries and how waste is dealt with, and it was interesting to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each cultural norm. After the Thames clean-up we had free time to explore the city. With three other trainees we decided to go to the Tate Modern, as we are all interested in art. We then explored the city for a bit before eating dinner and then heading back to the ship.


2nd of August 2019

We sailed again on the 2nd of August. At first it was really nice being on sea again, and I had a lot of fun further exploring how to sail the Gulden Leeuw with the other trainees. However, when I had to get up for my night watch I got quite seasick. Luckily the other trainees and mentors were good at helping me, setting me to do the best tasks on my watch, making sure I ate something, etc.


Leaving London. Been in the galley all day and made spareribs, which were amazing. Sitting with Kika before night watch who drew me asleep whilst also picking on Benjamin to stop him snoring, and night watch at 00:00-03:00, made the day. It is the little things that people do when sailing that make the experience. Kika is like a walking radio and so random she can really brighten your day. It’s amazing meeting so many talented and enthusiastic people. From Hester who is so ambitious, Eise who doesn’t let anything get in his way, Alanna who is so keen to learn more and more about sailing and Signe who is the most caring Viking I’ve ever met. On watch that night there were so many beautiful stars, Jan (an officer) pointed out the North Star to me. The stars in amongst the sails are one of the best sights I have ever seen. Got such lovely people on board and it upsets me that there is not a lot of time left on the trip. I will miss them!

Back at sea


3rd of August 2019

On the 3rd of August the mentors have organized a watch tournament, where the watches competed in several games involving sail training. This was a lot of fun as we got to work together in the watches in a new way and really had to test out our obtained skills. In the evening, before dinner, we had both the Danish and the French country presentations. It was a lot of fun telling about Denmark, where we talked about the weather, culture, the governmental system, fun facts and much more. The French presentation was also very good, and even some of the people who had been very shy and hesitant with speaking English spoke up and really contributed to the presentation – it was quite the personal development for them! We got to eat Eaton Mess prepared by the English trainees, a typical English dessert.


4th of August 2019

As the ship was anchored, we got to swim from the ship which was a fun and unique experience. As it was the final evening we would be on the Gulden Leeuw, dinner was made into quite an event. We all dressed up, and the tables were covered in tablecloths and set nice with candles and flowers. The Italian trainees on the ship made an Italian dinner for all of us, and the food was good. Afterwards, some of the Dutch trainees had arranged a karaoke / talent show. Every group from each country proceeded to perform a song in their native language, and the evening was a good mix of fun and cultural exchange. For the talent shows, people across countries came up with shows together. The real showstopper of the night was when June sang Chinese opera, it was very beautiful! Before going to bed, we had deck watches in teams of two.

Resting in the sun


5th of August 2019

We finally reached Amsterdam. It was very emotional leaving the Gulden Leeuw, but at the same   time we were all excited to sleep on real beds and have a proper shower. We had some lunch at de Pllek and then went to the Vligenbos campsite and got settled. Two of the Dutch friends I had made on the trip had a common friend in Amsterdam who was doing a poetry reading at De Ceuvel, so they invited me along to see her. It was a nice reading, even though some of the poems were in Dutch, and De Ceuvel was a cool place.


6th of August 2019

After breakfast, we all went to Central Amsterdam to do a canal clean-up with Plastic Whale of Amsterdam. The concept was sailing around the canals in electric boats made from recycled plastic bottles found in the canals, and fishing out even more rubbish. It was a very fun way to do something productive for the environment, and we got to see the city at the same time. At the end, we all had to tell a short made up story about an item of rubbish found along the way, which was also very entertaining as each boat had found different, strange items. After the clean-up we had free time so in smaller groups we went to explore the city. In my group, we explored the second-hand stores of Amsterdam as well as vegan restaurants, further engaging in a sustainable lifestyle.

Cleaning the canals of Amsterdam with Plastic Whale


7th of August 2019

On the 7th of August we went to have a tour of De Ceuvel, which I had already explored a little with my new Dutch friends. However, the tour was much more elaborate, and it was exciting to learn about the sustainable office society. Afterwards I tried some traditional Dutch dishes from De Ceuvel Café, but made vegan, which I really appreciate being an option. In the afternoon we had both the Dutch and Belgium country presentations. Both talked about governmental system, culture and the green transition in their countries. As an interactive feature, the Dutch trainees even gave us some traditional Dutch sweets, yummy!


8th of August 2019

I had to go home a day early because I had to participate in an obligatory event back home, so this was my last day on the journey. I did have time to explore the city some more with the other trainees and to hear the Italian country presentation. They talked a lot about Italian culture and stereotypes and even explained all the infamous Italian hand gestures. All the country presentations were nice, and it was good to learn about other countries and their culture. After a very sad farewell, I made my way home.

Gulden Leeuw – our home for the past 2 weeks


9th of August

Mentor notes

Last day. Everyone has packed their bags and are ready to go. There always has to be an end to everything, but hopefully for a lot of us it is going to be the start of a new way to look at life. I know for me, I have grown in this project, both as a leader but also on the awareness of how much effect my actions have on the world around me. We get to say goodbye at the Camping Vliegenbos, ending with a speech from the mentors and also with a big group hug!

Fair winds everyone!


Here are some of the other trainees’ general thoughts on the journey:

Ryan (UK)

The trip onboard the Gulden Leeuw was exciting, informative, thought provoking and as a result – life changing. Living and working as part of a tall ship crew was an entirely new experience to me. The crew were all friendly and happy to help whenever we needed them. I learned so much in my time on board about sailing and I can’t wait to use that new knowledge on future voyages.

As for the programme with By the Ocean we Unite, I can honestly say that the experiences in fishing for plastic and the various clean-up activities have changed the way I think about my impact on the environment. I am now more aware of my own plastic use and have made multiple changes to my own way of living as a result. I would always recommend this trip and can’t wait for my next journey!

Greetings from halfway up the mast!


Claire (NL)

My journey on the Gulden Leeuw was everything I expected it to be and even more. I loved every bit of it, and I can’t wait to go and sail again on sea next summer.

The day I came on board of the ship was a day full of impressions. The big ship with all the ropes and masts and all the trainees, mentors and crew members that would join the journey. I was so excited to go out on sea and sail but at the same time terrified that I would find no one to connect with on board. After the first night all my worries were gone, and I couldn’t wait to get on open water.


Anonymous Participant

It was a wonderful experience where I met plenty new friends from different nations.

On the days that we were sailing on the sea I felt so happy. I made lot of friends and together we set the sails and sailed, we climbed the mast and we chilled on the bow. We saw other ships and were surrounded by water. We had dinner together and worked as a team during our watch.

During the journey I learned a lot of new things. I was watch-leader twice and I learned that I am a great leader and I can make people accomplish more when they work together. The other thing I learned is that I like to organize things and that I am pretty good at it as well. With Anne-Wiep, one of my friends now, I organized a karaoke night on the ship, and it turned out to a big party that all the trainees, mentors and crew members enjoyed. The other thing I organized was a real Dutch pancake-night in Amsterdam, so all the trainees from other countries could taste and enjoy this tasty Dutch dish.

The thing I normally found very challenging is making friends but at this trip, I found out I can make friends with lots of people and even people with another culture. That was so surprising to notice for me. Because all the contact with the people from the other countries I noticed that my English improved during the two weeks.

I also learned a lot about plastic pollution during the trip and in daily life I notice that I learned so much about it and that it really does something with me when I see all the plastic that we throw away. So, I try to make other people in my surrounding aware of the plastic problem. Going on the journey was an absolute adventure where I pushed my boundaries and learned a lot of new things about myself, I wouldn’t know if I didn’t join the Gulden Leeuw. It made me realize that there are so many things I want to do and that I must enjoy the things that I do because they’re over before you know it. I also found out that I love the life on board, I love the climbing and sailing, the hard work and the big waves, I love the people and all the activities on board. I found out that I could live on a tall ship and sail the world (if it was an opportunity). I am already looking forward to next summer because I am going to join a tall ship again. I can’t wait to meet a new ship, new people and I look forward to experience new things and learn things about myself I didn’t know before.


Soline (FR)

Life on board

I met people with whom I shared a group life, learning sail on a tall ship and discovered a lot of eco-friendly actions.


Vincenzo (IT)

The best experience on board of Gulden Leeuw it was when I climbed up the mast with two other guys to close sails. It was scary but when I arrived on the top, the view was wonderful.


Thea (DK)

I learned a lot about both sailing and sustainability, and the social life was amazing.