Making Waves - Vega Gamleby


Vega Gamleby 2019 Journey:
Plastic, an Issue without Borders

Welcome to the logbook of the Erasmus+ Youth Exchange Plastic: An Issue without Borders, that took place in the summer of 2019, in Sweden, on board the beautiful and so very cozy sail training ship Vega Gamleby. What follows is a personal insight into our brilliant three weeks. Creativity, leadership, teamwork, curiosity, and intercultural learning all came together into 21 days of sailing, research, exploring, personal development and international friendships. We look back on a life-changing experience, and hope we can give you a glimpse of how it all happened.

To sum up this project in some numbers:
5 Country Presentations. 10 National Dinners. 1 murder game (with loads of victims). A lot of workshops. Many conversations with locals. 2 Newspaper articles. 1 politician on board. Many night watches. 3 sunrise swimming sessions. 1 thunderstorm. 1 elephant.

July 15
Barnaby (UK, 21), 12-4 watch

Ola and me got on a bus numbered 69 for 2 or 3 stops and we got off at the Vasa museum. We could see the masts of the Vega with the Swedish flag flapping in the wind as we walked up to her and argued about whether or not she was a pirate ship, though Ola insisted a pirate ship needs pirates.

We were greeted with about 15 happy faces. The boat itself is beautiful with every last detail wooden.

I could write about every person I have spoken to today in tremendous detail but I would need more paper than exists on this ship to give their fascinating lives the justice and detail they deserve. So instead I will continue with today. I sat and chopped vegetables for the salad. Someone came down from the deck to ask us to help with the new arrival bags, about 15 more trainees came down following the human chain of luggage passing. We all sat down and ate this fantastic spaghetti Bolognese seasoned to perfection (I love pepper!) and Dima insisted we all ate plenty of salad to get our anti-oxidants necessary to not get scurvy.

After dinner we all made our beds and played an introductory game of writing our fears for the voyage and our hopes on separate post-it notes. Luca and I imagined that the post-it notes would naturally fall down as the fears were overcome and the hopes accomplished. So it became nice to see them occasionally gently fluttering down the floor. I love how the toilet smells of sea water.

Luca and me then went to fill the logbooks, though progress became slow when the bench became full of people writing… but mostly talking and sharing stories, laughing about the differences in languages and accents. One by one they went to bed, we said goodnight in their respective languages.

Now I sit writing alone, the occasional snore being loud enough to penetrate the upstairs as all of the 41 of these magnificent people get rocked gently to sleep in the harbour of the beautiful city of

July 16
Barnaby (UK, 21), Donna (NL, 15) 12-4 watch

I woke up this morning to a calm voice, Signe welcoming us to the day. I jumped straight out of bed to witness the table set and ready for breakfast. I grabbed a bowl and put a spoon of muesli inside, then I was stopped by Dima, it was 2 minutes 36 seconds until 8 so I couldn’t start yet, he counted down 6 or so, mouths watering as he said “3,2,1, eat!”

After breakfast we went into our watches, first we learned the basics of rope handling with Anna. Proceeding this we went below deck to have the cook give a presentation on the galley and the safety involved. The talk ended with us all taking the morning tea and fika up to the deck.

In the afternoon we went to the Vasa museum and got a guided tour around a beautiful large black wooden ship, covered in detailed carvings with a magnificent lion at the front of the fantastic, epic Vasa... that sank in 20 minutes or so. One unstable ship! Maarten and I went on a 15 minutes flash look at the rest of the museum before grabbing a snack for afternoon fika to eat on the boat tour of the Vasa.

On the boat tour, when we reached the point where the Vasa sank, Donna and I tried to rock the boat without much effect but it was funny anyhow.

After dinner we motor boated in groups of 8 to the other side of the estuary during the sunset and explored a much larger Tall Ship than the Vega, though I forgot its name. Luka and I joked about sailing it away before anyone could stop us, a kind of mutiny.

There was a lunar eclipse and 9 of us sat on a small high section of the Vega on top of the toilet watching it get to half coverage before the clouds swallowed it whole, the news called it a super blood wolf moon eclipse.

I started writing this with a small group and again they all went to sleep 1 by 1, though this time Donna has been keeping me company.

July 17, 2019
Trainees, 4-8 watch

Yttje, Sejal, Arthur, Jildou, Luka and Josh woke up at 6:40 AM to run in the Vasa Park, then everyone took a shower before breakfast, last shower for a few days. We played games in a park with Claire before fika, then we did happy hour.

After lunch we finally left Stockholm, we start sailing!! After free time, Maarten showed us a movie about plastic and its impact on the sea. We landed on a little island and walked with plastic bags to clean it. Our group found a place with a lot of trash and won the trash contest. We savored our victory by watching the sunset.

Wait, I forgot to say an important part of the journey. Teabag! Our watch mission was to trade a teabag with an object that will represent us. We chose a compass watch for our watch! (Another watch actually ended up with a Swedish flag!)

After collecting trash we had some free time so we played guitar and talked a bit before the night.

Barnaby (UK, 21), 12-4 watch

This morning after fika, we got assigned a challenge… It started with a teabag, we had 45 minutes to trade it for anything else, which would be a mascot for our watch.

In the queue for the Vasa museum we offered the tea bag and swapped it for 120 South African rands. We then asked to swap the rands for a yellow chair. From a bar, they gave us some Swedish red candles for 100 rands which later we swapped for a Swedish flag. We also got a big box of mixed nuts, so good!

We set sails without sails! The engine made a really funky sounds though ‘Dekabuka, dekabuka’, a few of us danced to the beat of the diesel combustion. We left Stockholm and it was beautiful, the sun was shining, the living was sweet.

There was practice for us on this windless day to pull up the sails. Luka, Isis, Elin and I helped to hoist the halyard peak mizzen gaff sail. When the main gaff was hoisted it splashed water all over Ola, it was hilarious.

Luka’s prediction: easy at the beginning, but it is going to get rougher with a thunderstorm at the end. (Note by editor of logbook: Oh boy. Let’s listen to Luka for weather predictions!)

July 18
Ellis (NL, 15), 8 -12 watch

We are doing a very good job with keeping up the logbook, as you see. Anyway, I think this is going to be a long story as there is so much we have done and so little we actually wrote down. 😊

We finally started ‘sailing’ and are out at the sea seeing some gorgeous islands of the archipelago of Sweden. There isn’t much wind, so we are moving forward with some help of the motor. I can really see the group is getting closer. People get to know each other and are talking more. It’s weird to realize I knew none of them 72 hours ago. Though I still need to land a bit, I think we’re doing an excellent job with having some good conversations. Age is the thing that will be asked after you know the names of someone’s pet, if not by then you forget to ask. It doesn’t really matter how old someone is, or how big the age difference is.

Yesterday was good. We sailed out of Stockholm (by motor) and around 7 reached a little island. At the island we ate our dinner (which was, like every meal, delicious). After this we went out to explore the island in our watch groups. Because of this amazing theme of the trip (plastic/sustainability) we went cleaning the island and collecting pieces of plastics.

Maarten, our plastic guy, taught us a bit more about the plastic problem. After a while we stumbled upon a little beach, where we met another group. Around this time the sun was going down, and everything had a beautiful orange glow. I was walking around a bit when I heard some people were going for a swim (it was already pretty chilly). I couldn’t stay behind and I joined them.

In our underwear we swam to another part of the island and back. It was absolutely amazing! With the beautiful sunset and the cold water we got the full Swedish experience. We went back to the ship and put on some dry clothes and tried to avoid mosquitoes (mission impossible).

I was pretty exhausted so I went to bed a bit earlier than the previous nights. This was also the case because some of us woke up at 4 to see the sunrise this morning. This, again, was beautiful. As my dad said: If there is a God, he would live in Sweden. I can’t disagree, man, I love this country.

Today we also did loads of stuff: with sail training being one of them. They have told us so much, about the sails, booms, gaffs, preventers, sheets, and so on. But honestly, I’m still pretty clueless. I, by far, didn’t follow everything, and I am proud when I know the name of a sail. I really hope I will understand things soon, now I’m just doing what they tell me without really knowing why I do it. Luckily, everybody is very nice and can help me out for now. 😊

We are eating Swedish food today, it’s sooooo good! Ettsopa et pankakka and cinnamon buns and vegetarian meatballs. (I look forward to dinner!). Tomorrow there is going to be a presentation of the Dutchies, we’re going to quiz the rest about our small country. Right now it’s getting pretty cold, and my hand is starting to hurt, so I’ll stop writing. I hope I can hold on to this logbook thing, it’s actually pretty nice!

Bye for now 😊

July 19
Janna (NL, 16), 8-12 watch

Just a few minutes ago we put the manta trawl in for the first time (official). I wrote everything down. The coordinates, time, speed, wind. Now I am waiting to take it out of the water again. It is nice to do some scientific things.

Trainees, 4-8 watch

We started the watch at 4 AM with practicing some useful knots and a fika. We raised square sails and changed the headsails direction. Joachim explained us the action of the winds in the sails and the setting of our boat depending of the wind.

After lunch, we had some free time before Dutch presentation. It was a game with questions. So, in our watch, Yttje, Luka were making the game, Luka was the judge and Yttje the introducer. “Ontbijtkoek” team won the quiz, so they got stroopwaffels. It’s 4 PM!! Watch shift.

Barnaby (UK, 21), 12-4 watch

11:45, technically the 18th still. I made my way onto deck, 9 tired trainees waiting for 9 tired others so they could go to bed, accompanied by what they said was the sunset. Apparently the moonrise was blood rise, a sight they implied we should be envious of.

I had a go on the helm after Gustav, it was a great feeling, at one point we were going above 1 knot! A radio transmission came on from channel 16, a whole load of Swedish was spoken but I could understand 2 words, “rescue” and later “helicopter”. We never saw the helicopter.

We were delirious from exhaustion when the next watch came, we told them how it never got dark, how the sky stayed with the color on the horizon all night and if they see any peanuts they should pick them up. At the start of the watch Gustav tried to throw a peanut and catch it in his mouth, but it was too dark and we could hear peanuts landing miles away.

July 20
Barnaby (UK, 21), 12-4 watch

We woke up everyone for the watch and said ‘bonne nuit’ to the 8-12 watch. We set the sails straight away. Gustav took the lead in telling us how to move the sails to the side, I later took the lead in bracing the square sails. I was coiling rope while the others changed the foresails.

We all wandered around the deck reminding each other what the sails are, attempting rope safaris, Gustav and I went to practice being on lookout which was quite pleasant and peaceful. We were joined by Molly and Gustav taught us a Danish sea shanty, how it goes? No clue. It was like a walking song where you repeat what the leader says.

Claire played a small game with us where we told her what we don’t like, then what we do like about the trip so far. They were all valid points, some which made us laugh and we all said how lovely it is we have who we have in our watch. It was a loving moment. Molly even said she was going to tear up.

We learned some knots, I can do level 1, 2 and 3 of the clove hitch with my toes now. The levels are Signe’s stages of learning.

Isis, Gustav, Amalia and Sofia went onto the front of the boat to tie up the sails. They all seemed very confident with their rope climbing.

Lunch was ‘vegetable soup with the creamy white thing stuff’ (Luka). I cleared the deck and saloon off people’s stuff to leave in the lost property bag which I later auctioned off to their rightful owners in exchange for song, dance, jokes and headstands.

At midnight Isaure turned 18 and we all celebrated a little.

July 21
Isaure (FR, 18), 4-8 watch

(Sorry, I can’t write English so well yet)

So today it’s my birthday! I’m really excited! For the morning, I can sleep a little bit more, I’m happy!

Decks golf, a Swedish Sunday ship tradition, today played in honor of Isaure’s birthday. Everybody dressed up nice (or funny) and we had a brilliant time! Excellent teamwork as well!

July 22
Trainees, 4-8 watch

The week-end is over now. Ulvön harboured our Vega in this picturesque frame, where the night never threw its darkest veil over the map.

Playing golf was one of yesterday’s highlights. Everybody was going bonkers, trying to hit the ball with broomsticks and other unorthodox cleaning sticks.

Ellis (NL, 16), 8-12 watch

Dear 8-12 watch,

This journey has been so amazing. In only 7 days, my view on it has completely changed. I remember thinking of the ship as way bigger than it actually is. But the little space on board hasn’t bothered me one moment. I also, to be honest, expected to learn the ropes and sails very quickly. This, however, has been a bit more challenging. But I learnt from it that if you put your own effort in it, keep asking questions, you will get there. You guys have helped me so much to learn new things, feel welcome in our little sleeping cabin (is that a cabin?) and let this feel like home for a while. The night watches will always stick in my head: the beautiful sunsets, moonrises, sometimes pulling a rope, also a few times just doing nothing. In 7 days, I’ve met amazing people, who unfortunately I’m leaving a bit earlier than I hoped. I wish you guys an amazing journey, enjoy every single moment, I’ll think of you, and hope to see you again.


Maja (SE, 20), 8-12 watch (night watch)

Tonight we started our watch with a pile of dishes that we cleaned up as quickly as we could. Afterwards a group picture was taken with Ellis pin, that we sent to her to show how much we miss her. Winds were later coming our way in a changed direction which meant a bit of work on the sails. We worked very well together as a group and pulled the ropes together around a beautiful sunset.

Later four lucky ones were offered to climb up in front of the ship to wrap up the loose sails. In a democratic spirit the places were delegated with tuff games of “rock, paper, scissors”. We were later spying rain on the horizon before we handed over our shift to the 12-4 watch with fresh tea and coffee.

We had a really nice and calm watch tonight even though it felt really empty without Ellis in the group. Thank you for a beautiful evening!

Barnaby (UK, 21), 12-4 watch

I slept in the saloon last night, my room was too hot. Dima woke me up by tickling my toes so he could get to the food under me.

Today I have felt full... all day. I’ve been constantly surprised that the next meal / fika has already started when it has always felt as if we just finished clearing up the previous one!

I slept after lunch until dinner, then an hour after as well. When I woke up, Arthur, Dima, Isaure, Maarten, Molly and me played Dixit, a game I would really like to get for home, a game of specific vagueness.

Shortly before the last night watch started, I killed Nienke!!! With an odd pair of socks on the skylight hatch, second kill of the game, I was very happy. Nienke was not full of mutual feelings. The watch was good fun, there was very little wind, but the waves have been getting bigger so I think I will be rocked to sleep like a baby tonight in that cramped sauna we call a bedroom.

July 23
Trainees, 4-8 watch

We got out of bed at 4 in the morning today as we were doing a night sail, waking up was ok as we were woken up by Barny and Gustav singing ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Alleluia’, the singing was very good. We then did some knots and also learnt how to splice and whip rope.

Donna (NL, 14), 8-12 watch

This morning we have put on some sails. We also learnt about the charts. Today I will learn a lot about the sails (I hope). Carl and I are gonna draw the boat with the sails and the name on it. At this moment all I can think about is Ellis. It’s hard to realize that she is gone because she is amazing, she makes me laugh and cry at the same time. I hope she will come back, but I get if she doesn’t. She is always more than welcome. I talked to her in Dutch and I said to her ‘het komt goed en we houden contact’, which means ‘It’s gonna be ok and we stay in touch’. I think I’m done with writing!

Maja (SE, 20), 8-12 watch

Further on, we had lunch at 12 (mushroom soup and a lot of bread). After lunch it was time for the English presentation! In high spirits we answered questions about everything from which are the British Isles to how many times you could reach the moon with the power of boiled tea. It ended with a tricky, balancing game revolving around spoons and eggs.

Later on the winds started calming down and we began to recognize the way to the Stockholm archipelago that we had sailed a few days ago. Now we also have different colored bracelets representing the watches. Ours is green and pink!

Looking forward to the night watch ! = )

Maya (FR, 15), Tiphaine (FR, 27), 12-4 watch

“Today was a catastrophic day for France” – Maya

Maya drowned the potatoes and proposed to hide whole nutmegs in the food. She then proceeded to put a little bit of herself in the salad, in the shape of fingers. We had a rough night watch of about 35 minutes, guided into what seems a nice little harbor by the orange light of half a fat moon. Fenders out.

A lot of things happened on deck today, or so I’ve heard, from the depths of cultural cooking slavery that involved way more potato peeling that was probably worth it. What is it with Nordic countries and being on time? Anyway, deck things were: rope stuff, plastic fishing, UK presentation, navigation stuff and, you know, boat things.

I was killed in a really sneaky and somehow illicit way, but society is unfair and my killer abused his privileges to corrupt the judges that held the power to bring me back to life. They shall regret it.

The sunset was outstanding, pink and orange watering the sea and dropping ink in the shadows. There was also a Russian song, containing 16 different words to say ‘lala’ and 3 that actually meant something.

People are whispering in the galley. I sleep in the galley.
Slaap lekker

July 24
Molly (UK, 19), 12-4 watch

Molly here! I went to sleep into the saloon tonight... I tried to sleep in my cabin but it was way too warm and because we were motoring the whole ship was rattling with the rhythm of the engine ‘duhaha duhaha duhaha’. Today we did happy hour and a chat about what we as individuals can do to help reduce plastics. It was really interesting to hear everyone’s suggestions.

We then went for swimming to the rocky beaches North, while others wandered into the typical Swedish town for postcards. We had a Dutch dinner on the boat. As we did the dishes we left harbor and started night watches, but because Ib has something planned for tomorrow we’re doing really short watches (splitting the watches a half).

July 25
Trainees, 4-8 watch

Today we had only a 2 hour watch, mine was 6 to 8 and we were only 4 on watch. Arthur, Elin, Nanna and Sejal climbed the mast to pack the square sails, that was nice! We arrived to the sand island. We were split in 2 groups of 12. The plan was to join the Vega at the other side of the island but Ib changed position because he found a better place to anchor. So the South team had to walk a HUGE distance. We walked about 8 hours. Everyone got very exhausted at the end of the journey.

Molly (UK, 19), 12-4 watch

So, Barny, Gustav, Amelia, Sofia and Maya were on watch from 12 am - 2 am. Amelia woke me up 15 mins before 2 am when the other half of our watch started. I (apparently) went straight back to sleep after they woke me up... So then they woke me up again 2 mins before we had to be on deck, so I rushed out of bed, threw on a jumper and ran to grab some fika on my way there. After half-watch handover, I took the wheel –there was barely any wind (I think we were going about 3 knots).

Signe scolded us for being late, and then the guys played rope safari – when Signe moves one rope, etc. As time passed by, the wind died down and we put the engine on, which woke up the rest of our watch. Isis then took over the wheel while we all dropped the sails. We woke up the next half-watch (who were also late) and we went straight to bed.

Breakfast at 8 (had to be on time). Isaure and I however slept in slightly and got woken up by a very loud pot and spoon. Had breakfast, we then packed our bags for the day and made sandwiches for lunch. Nienke gathered us on deck and explained that we have been split up. We got dropped off on the side of an isolated island with 2 bin bags and we had to make our way South to meet Vega with the other group. One group went down the West side, and my group the East. We saw seals, arctic terns and skeletons. The sun was hot. We were all hot. But we collected so much rubbish it was ridiculous. Barny, Ola and Joshua found a crate and plastic rope and they made a sledge of plastic which was super heavy and took 3 people to drag at a time. Halfway through we got a message saying the ship was going to pick us up on the West coast. We had walked about 3 hours.

The next coast was another maybe 3 hours. We weren’t happy. We continued walking, and walking, and walking, until finally we saw Ib and Signe coming to save us. On the treacherous motor back to Vega, Ola suddenly felt a weight lift off her... Her slides were no longer attached to her bag! Poseidon (the bastard) stole them from her, lost at sea forever, RIP.

July 26
Maya (FR, 15), 12-4 watch

Hi, I’m Maya and I’m French! Today we did a French presentation. It was very cool. I hope that the Danish and Dutch people liked it. After tomorrow, it will be the French day again, ‘cause the first French day was a catastrophic day for us, a shame for France to have us. I was not proud of us to do that but it was funny to do it, I cut my fingers... Today we changed the teams.

July 27
Barnaby (UK, 21), 12-4 watch

I woke up and we were on the move already, a lot of winds took us about 7 knots as we goose-winged our way South. The waves were the most consistently big of the trip so far, Gustav was getting a bit seasick, Carl too. I sewed some velvet green patches in the holes of my shorty with some of Claire’s orange thread.

We got taught by Maarten how to make our own toothpaste: bicarbonate of soda for abbrasion, coconut oil for sterility, stevia for sweetness and vanilla for flavoring (as the Vega doesn’t have peppermint). We also made chocolate toothpaste, it was tasty but my teeth didn’t feel as clean as the other one. We made a big jar for the ship to use.

We snuck around like Mission Impossible and stole a bag of meringue from the galley dry food storage, it was very funny and silly. We have now arrived in Visby, we made a sculpture of an elephant from the trash we found on the previous island, after Luka and I got very loose permission from a guy in the harbour office that seemed like he had zero authority to allow us.

Now we eat burgers!

July 28
Isis (NL, 16), 12-4

Hello, a new writer today = )
This morning started with a singing Dima and some nice music. It was a great start of the day to see some other sleepy people. After that we had a happy hour which ended with ice cream! Then we left Gotland. The workshops were a little different today, because one had no more information than “Signe’s sweet and sour”, I chose that one. It turned out that we were cleaning all the things, corners in the deck saloons and the windows. It was actually quite nice to do so because we were cleaning with toothbrushes (like in movies) and we had good music. This was the sour part. The sweet part however was even better. We’ve got a spa (made by Signe) with two soapbaths and one
fishbath. Also we got a really fancy drink (I got a fruit milkshake). That was soo nice, especially when Mo massaged my feet. After that we had a great French revenge meal with Barnaby’s bread, it was amazing!

Then we had a plastic/environment discussion, about solutions for the big plastic and carbon dioxide issues. It was a really good talk, everybody was involved and we had really good discussions. Our point is, being good for environment should be rewarded. I think that if everybody got good talks about the pollution problem, the awareness and bad behaviors would be less problematic. After our talk we took some nice fika. Then I started talking to Nienke. She said that if I said that the mentors are nice we might get ice cream as dessert. So: THE MENTORS ARE NICE AND AMAZING! Because they might give us ice cream = )

ELLIS came back!!! I am so happy! (I guess all of us). The evening was nice and messy, with one really sad thing. Johanne had to leave the ship = ( It was really sad, especially because we were only 4 hours complete as a group. I think that was it for this day. Have fun with reading!

Maja (SE, 20), 8-12 watch

Greetings logbook! Or I should probably say long time no see. The last five days have been very eventful here on the Vega. We have dug deeper into our sustainability mission through discussions on both small and large scales. It feels so rewarding to both question our own lifestyles and society as a whole. With our different viewpoints we can actually make a difference = )

We have explored the beautiful island of Sandhamn together, been swimming in jaw-dropping sunsets and laughed a whole lot. In Sandhamn we also got accompanied by Ib’s wife and sweet child. The day after Dima woke us up with a loud version of ‘Morning has broken’ (as usual). Upon us we had a long walk on the island of Gotska Sandon, outside of Gotland. We had a mission to collect as much waste as possible. This in order to create something to spread awareness. It was really saddening to see how much plastic there was. We talked about how easy it is to feel hopeless when you are exposed to how much trash we let nature swallow. But we walked on and held our team spirit high in the gazing sun.

Yesterday we reached Visby, a super-cute historic town. There we built an elephant out of the trash we collected on the island. We put it outside of the ship so that it was visible to the public with signs that said “It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room”. It was really impressive to see how many people stopped and had a thought. It’s so important to get the word out there with information about the whole plastic issue.

Today we discussed ways to make that happen and all agreed on the importance of trying to affect people with a positive mindset. It is us young people who are the future and now being two weeks in, I already feel so much more hopeful. We’ve all come up with so many great ideas. Now we just have to make them reality. Make the waves.

Right now we are on our way to Vastervik where Ellis will join us again and Johanne sadly has to leave. The wind blows our way and Vega is dancing to the music of the waves.

Just now we had a man overboard drill where we learnt how we are supposed to react in case somebody falls into the water. It was successful and I think we all learnt something new. The group becomes more and more like a family each day. I’ve already fallen in love with this lifestyle because of how rewarding it feels to learn something new every day.

One more week to go. I’m going to enjoy every second of it.

Oh! We also spotted a seal yesterday. Important! (And very cute).

July 29
Barnaby (UK, 21), 12-4 watch

It is a Monday, I think. After breakfast we split into our groups to go on a treasure hunt around Västervik. Klaus knew exactly were the first picture was in the town. Sejal was waiting for us for our next clue, a picture of a bench and a challenge to find out what is the coat of arms of the city, challenge thought out by Gustav. The coat of arms is a golden Viking ship on a shield.

Isaure, Amarens, Polly and myself swam out to the bench. When we sat on it, it started to sink so we panic jumped off and got our next clue with a challenge – a picture of feet of a statue and finding a good story from a local person. We figured the museum would know where the statue is, and that they may have good stories. A woman, Nina, told us that there is a cross drawn in the concrete because that is where someone was murdered, a foreman that would go to the same spot every day to give out work when one day, a drunk and fired worker woke up before the foreman and waited, killing him with a blunt object, then disappeared. No one knows if he left for the archipelago.

Nina liked to hear the reason of our voyage so she paid the 50 kronar fee and we all got a guided tour around the museum. On the way back I filled my pockets with rubbish.

Maarten gave a lecture on oceanography, which I attended because the engineer was too busy with a broken generator to show us how the engine works. I had a lovely nap after, a lovely sing song too with Elin while washing up. She has the most fabulous British accent when she talks English, it’s like she is in a Charles Dickens novel, so the sing songs where of a jolly good made up musical manner.

The singing wasn’t appreciated when I had to order the lower top sail to be hoisted. Some foot massages and naps later, dinner was served by Gustav and Carl. Luka and I made the bread dough, got very sweaty and I went straight up to swim, with people feeding us peper noten like we were ducks.

July 30
Elin (SV, 23), 4-8 watch

It has been a bloody awesome day. We have had loads of wind and up to two meters waves. We have sailed around 7 knots the entire day. Unfortunately some have been a bit seasick. We have surfed with the waves and now we have reached Kalmar. A bloody brilliant day.

Barnaby (UK, 21), 12-4 watch

I woke up in the deck saloon because it rained while we all slept on deck during the night. Joakim’s birthday is today, he was the first person Luka and I saw and we greeted him with a happy birthday, his grin was cheesier than a cheese smile.

I signed up for the watch workshop because there was 10-15 m/s wind and oh boy were there waves! Water crashing over onto the deck, rocking through a sweep of 90 degrees portside and starboard with the occasional longitudinal crashing into the swell. Finally, proper sailing! Happy birthday! At one point we reached 9.2 knots! Isaure taught me some French songs as we sang at Poseidon’s foot hills.

The proper sailing with big waves and light rain really showed everyone how much sailing they knew, I surprised myself when I was explaining the ropes to Klaus.

We remained on watch throughout pea soup lunch served in a mug but the afternoon fika combined with me eating marzipan cakes triggered lots of napping. Started, initially on the roof of the deck saloon, but the cold wind pushed us down into the cozy saloon where Dima served us bedside tortilla chips with salsa and sour cream, very nice and cozy. We left our slumber to make yet more bread while others finished off the birthday cake, with jam, mashed banana, whipped cream and honey on top.

Dinner was chill and nice, I lost at chess before soon enough Jokim was being sung at by everyone and we all ate the cake during the Swedish presentation. Swedish music is really good. I went for a sauna with Josh and Isaure. Mind blowing sauna, I am very zen, absorbing water like sponge right now. I am sure I’ll sleep like a baby.

July 31
Tiphaine (FR, 27), 12-4 watch

After the happy hour we had a solution session.

“Can we focus on saving the world?” (Gustav, 2019)

People rocked it, starting with the idea of writing down a petition for an international pant (that Scandinavian thing with the bottles recycling that gives back money) and somehow ending up with inviting a local politician and a journalist to fika.

There was time for shower/sauna and exploration of the small Kalmar city. Most of the guys went to the barber and came back looking like twelve-years-old kids, except Maarten, who wanted to keep his white Jesus Scientist look, and Dima, who had his talented personal barbers in the persons of Molly and Ola, and spent most of the evening showing off the result.

Oh, the dishwashing team initiated a lovely dishwashing impro dance involving towels, elegance and science, at some point Jildou almost poked Swedish Maja’s eye out with a knife but it was mostly highly pleasant.

The 4 to 8 watch really got owned because they’re the only ones doing night watch today. I’ll pray for them from my comfy bed and they better not wake me up when duty calls.

I forgot about the 11 PM ferret. It was white and grey and didn’t care at all about us (Claire, Ellis and me) chasing it around the deck with brooms for about 20 minutes. He provocatively licked the dirty plates before disappearing into the night, looking back as if to say “Just go to sleep, you fools... I’ll be back.”

August 1
Ellis (NL, 16), 8 – 12 watch

After being welcomed into Vega’s warm arms, I am living the sailor’s life again = ) It was a really memorable moment. Seeing the Vega arrive in Västervik and getting squeezed in a huge group hug with all the happy trainees (Gamleby’s group hugs are the best, no doubt).

In these 3 days, many events have happened. I will do my best to write down some highlights. Tuesday, we finally had some waves. My sailing pants came in handy for the first time, and you could say there was some seasickness. When Ib started talking about puking rules and oranges that morning, I got kind of worried, but after 5 minutes of waves I was mostly enjoying it and felt fine!

After this wild sailing adventure, we arrived in Kalmar. We’ve had a lazy day (I now realize that’s not really a highlight) and ate Signe’s birthday cake (but this is).

Yesterday evening Claire, Tiphaine and I had a very special confrontation with a beach marten (I think that what it was, a kind of furry rat, but cute). We would leave that night, so our visitor had to leave the ship. It took Claire a few rounds on the ship to lead the marten from the dishes to the mainland. Very amusing!

During the morning watch I learned some more ropes (like the peek stretches) and we became coiling pros. Oh and I have climbed the mast!! I really love being back again, although it’s sad we aren’t fully complete anymore (Sejal and Johanne left = ( ). Only two more days left of playing cards, drinking coffee-ish tea and hearing “Elangooo” every few seconds. I’ll enjoy it!

Amelie (DK, 19), 12-4 watch

Our watch was lucky not to have a night watch this night, because then we could get a full night of sleep. But for most of us the morning started around 11 am, so we could get a bit of fika before our watch started at 12. During the watch we practiced how to coil correctly and beautifully. It was funny to see how much the crew enjoyed it.

During our watch we also had to do our part of the happy hour cleaning. We cleaned under the deck today. Everyone did a great job together and in no time it was clean. Especially Maya tried her best to vacuum the floor, but the vacuum cleaner didn’t want to cooperate with her. Maya had a lot of trouble with the metal attachment that fell off constantly. She ended up vacuuming her own hair.

After our watch the Rope Olympics started. We dressed up in yellow as much as possible, while the other teams dressed up in green and red. There were 3 disciplines today:

1. Speedcoiling
2. Rope racing classic
3. Rope racing advanced (blindfolded)

After the first day, we are leading with 9 points. The Olympics will continue the following days.

Before we ate lovely dinner, we all gathered and talked about the goals we set in the beginning of the trip. Which ones we already have achieved and which we will continue working on. To sum up some of the things we have learned: the names of the sails, to coil/belay, to make new knots, climbing, how to people and how to teamwork, etc.

Straight after dinner we took down all the sails, so we could get into the harbour on the little Danish island called Christianso. Signe made the ice cream shop stay open for 10 minutes more. After playing some games, some of us went to the main hatch with our sleeping stuff. Barnaby told a story and we went to sleep outside.

It was weird to be back in Denmark, because all of the people were talking Danish of course, which was nice after almost 3 weeks in Sweden. But it was lovely to show the rest of the ship a bit of Denmark. Even though I’ve never heard of the island before. But it’s very pretty, beautiful and small, and I’m glad that I can say “I’ve been there”.

August 2
Sofia (SE, 23), 12-4 watch. 2:30 AM

A lovely day to be at sea.

We left Christianso at 10 AM and motored our way back to Sweden, but then we finally got to set sail! Once we were on the right course, me and Elin and Ellis could think of nothing better than just laying on the sun-warmed deck, listening to the sounds of the wind and the waves. After that followed a... unique fika experience promoted by Signe’s Danish mom. She had brought with her loads of koldskal – some kind of thick milk/yoghurt with sugar and lemon, served with biscuits. There were mixed reactions. Dima almost threw a bowl overboard because he thought it was really disgusting. I kind of like it though, strange but good.

We continued with part II of the Rope Olympics. Gustav and Barny wrestled themselves out of the “knot of love”, giving us 2 points. Then it was time for the “Broomboom classic” – to tangle and untangle yourself from a broom. You have to see it to get it! Isis had a strong broom-game while the rest of us struggled with various success. Having a bad back did not help, even though Amelie set the record by DROPPING the stick before she even had begun. She did however make a great comeback, no, amazing comeback, leaving the yellow team with a total of 14 points and a steady second place the day before the final.

A really nice thing happened today – we were sailing all the way till the anchor was in the ground and the sheets were down. No need for no motor! The evening was spent on the ship, jumping into the sea and then getting warm again while watching pictures and movies from the last weeks.

Tomorrow is the last day before we leave Vega. Since we’re on anchor, we have one hour anchor watches tonight. Me and Barny looked after the ship from 1 AM to 2 AM (or more like 2:15 since time just flew while we were playing cards), now Luka and Ola have taken over and I shall sleep. Godnatt!

August 3
Amarens (NL, 23), 12-4 watch

On this day we sailed away from our anchor place without using the engine. We cleaned the ship while sailing to our final destination. On the way there were 3 workshops: “Jocke & the Machine”, “Captain’s Corner” and “Maarten & the Manta”.

I did the Captain’s Corner, where Mo (trainee, UK, 19) explained Col Reg (Collision Regulations). Then we walked toward Ib and with “champagne” in our hand we got a tour around the captain’s cabin. Back up we had so many questions that Ib barely got to explain navigation, but part of it we already had. Then we had to speed-clean the deck because a thunderstorm was on its way. The wind pushed us soon forward and out of the rain. Then the final sea miles raced down to zero while we entered Karlshamn.

We raced to the swimming pool to shower, had dinner in Pizzeria Prima Donna on Vega. It really looked like a first class restaurant. We gave a postcard and a small gift to the crew as a thank you for the trip. I think they were very happy with it.

After dinner Vega’s Got Talent got lose under the lead of Carl-Gustav (actually 2 trainees from Denmark, they were the best in entertaining and talking all the acts together. The acts were brilliant from Jocke and his senoritas, Maja & Maya show, Isis & the big band (HERE COMES THE SUN!) and an air orchestra. Barnaby, Isis, Polly and me sung in the big band with Ellis and her awesome guitar skills. We won, together with the air orchestra. After that some went to have a good time ashore and others just packed bags and wrote letters to everyone.

I don’t think most of us slept for a long time.

August 4
Ellis (NL, 16), 8-12 watch

In a few hours we’ll leave the ship and our Vega adventure. Next on the program for now is some cleaning, and after that some more. Yesterday evening was great, we had Vega’s Got Talent and you could say we sure have some talent onboard. After the talent show we went out to town with a group. I had a good evening with nice people, walking through Karlshamn (which was a bit deserted).

Dear Vega Gamleby, I’m going to miss you, but will sure come back. Those were very special weeks.  Thank you for that.

Pictures by mentors Claire and Nienke.

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