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10 Learnings from the Enkhuizer Zeevaartschool

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

It all feels like a dream. Like it has never happened. But yes: school is over.


After 6 months of nautical collage, hundreds of hours of studying and an infinite amount of learnings, we finally wrote our seven final exams at the Enkhuizener Zeevaartschool last week!


Hallelujah!


I don`t know if we passed them all yet, but for now I can say: it`s over.


I can even feel a little emptiness inside. It feels a bit weird to not have school anymore every friday nor blue books to read everyday (all our school books had a blue cover) .

Final exams: can you feel the adrenaline of sitting on this chair for hours and hours, for seven different subjects in only two days?


Now it all starts for real, and this is VERY exciting!


It`s time to put into practice everything we have been learning until now. After all, a sailor can`t stand a school desk for too long. Learning the theory is important, but we all know: the real learning is out at sea.

Moving to the Netherlands and study at the Enkhuizer Zeevaartschool was one of the most impulsive decisions of my life, I must admit. I had no idea where I was getting myself into. I look back in time and it feels good to realize how much we have learned, grown and changed over the last 6 months.


If you would ask me: "What did you learn there?", I could give you two main answers. The first one would be: "Well, I learned about navigation, sailing theory, stability of ships, diesel engines, shipbuilding, nautical english, maritime law, manouvering, medical care at sea, meteorology, regulations to avoid collision at sea, nautical instruments and some more".


But I could give you a second answer, that goes beyond each lesson taken or book read, and it`s about the main learnings that touched my heart and changed my attitude as a sailor and human.

Here we go:

1. "Be aware of your competences and incompetences": that was the message of one of our teachers during our last lesson of the KZV course. Before coming to school, I was in a supposedly lucky position, unaware of my own ignorance at sea. Of course I learned a lot during our four years sailing the coast of Brazil, but having studied here showed me how much I DON`T know and how naive (and stupid) I acted sometimes in the past while sailing. We are lucky we never sank Mintaka, thanks to the "angels of the ignorant sailors". They protected us a few times, I must admit. I am excited to act differently now, putting into practice what I learned and being curious and conscious about all the things I don´t know yet, becoming ever more humble - which leads me to the second topic.

2. Time to assume my "real size": being out at sea is an opportunity to realize how fuck*ng small I am. The ocean is much more powerful than us, and becoming humble at sea is one of the secrets of a successful (and pleasurable) voyage. Meaning: arrogance kills, no matter how experienced or knowledgable I might think I am. However, being humble does not mean insecure. Quite the opposite: by remembering how small I am, I can then assume my real size. And I am big, you too, we all are. When we sail, the ocean is constantly inviting us to assume our own power, to apply all our skills, to take actions that are precise and responsible, and therefore spread trust and confidence aboard.


Not bigger nor smaller, not more or less: let`s be who we really are, at sea and on land.

3. Electronics are a great help... if they work: Eef, our amazing "Art of Navigation" teacher, shared with us a piece of paper with some valuable "Nautical Thoughts" from her and Henk, the former Navigation teacher and founder of the Enkhuizer Zeevaartschool. On this paper, one of the topics is exactly this one, which is something very easy to forget nowadays, but it´s definitely something I want to remember forever. I have nothing against electronics and technology, but I believe that if we give all our power to them, we can end up lost and in troubles, out at sea and in life.


After this studies, Christof and I found a new passion and commitment: to keep on learning and practicing all kinds of ancient wisdom of navigating without instruments. We want to strengthen self reliance and our ability to communicate with Nature, while using electronics as our allies, and not as the enemy that disconnect us from nature and ourselves.


Talking about passion...

Eef and us: our last lesson with her learning the fascinating "Art of Navigation"


4. Be passionate about what you do: one of the most impactful things during my time at the Zeevaartschool were some of the teachers we had. Not just because of what they were teaching or their high level of knowledge about that particular subject. But mainly because of their WISDOM (which is knowledge put in practice in real life experiences) and their PASSION about what they were teaching. Marijke for instance, our stability teacher, could literally jump out of excitement when she was explaining us the secret behind numbers and formulas that make ships not capsize. Her love for the topic definitely made people (even the ones who are terrified about numbers) stay awake and enjoy each step of that journey. Or Eef (I again need to talk about her), always impressed me with her dedication and apparently endless energy to respond all our emails, answer all our questions and help us understand the importance of what she was teaching us.

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Howard Thurman

I wonder how would the world be if we could all teach and learn with true passion.

Our lovely class


5. Never stop studying: I graduated from University a bit more than 10 years ago, and I must admit I had bad memories of studying hard. I am happy to say that I reframed this belief. Studying was completely different this time, because I was fully connected to a dream that makes my heart smile. I realized how GOOD and important it is to continue studying, reading, writing (with my hands, and not just with the computer keyboard), to keep my brain sharp, and specially: to always follow my curiosity and learn new things until I die.


Between studies and new friendships


6. Find balance between safety and adventure: I always searched for adventure in life, but did ignore safety sometimes. During this school time, I became more excited to expand the craziness of our adventures, and at the same time, do everything possible to be safe. I became so much more aware now of the enormous list of risks that exist when you are out at sea. Learning about risks is not about becoming fearful, but careful and responsible. Prevention has nothing to do with fear, but love: for life. The more we are careful on a boat, the better the adventure.


Fire Fighting Training for our Basic Safety Papers


More Basic Safety and Medical Care


7. "There is no stupid question": was the motto of all our teachers. I love that. If I DON`T ask what I don`t know: then I will remain stupid.


8. Use all your senses to navigate: the ability to use our whole body to navigate is precious. Look, smell, touch, listen, taste, feel. Don`t skip any of them. I also talk about the word "body" in four different layers: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual body. All of them present and sharp aboard. And most important of all: "Never underestimate your intuition", said Eef in our first Art of Navigation lesson.


If my eyes and brain do not see a risk yet but my intuition tells me to reef the sails, I will follow the latter.

9. Never stop being a pirate: very important for the times we are living in. Yes, at school we learned everything about responsibilities, laws, theories and all kinds of necessary stuff to navigate safe and enjoy our time at sea. However, being a pirate can never be forgotten. I use the pirate archetype to describe an attitude towards life: the ability to question the status quo, to fight (without violence) for justice and equality, to truly care for the others and for nature, and never lose the course of freedom and love. Following the "nautical script" can be as dangerous as not following it, and as important as being a responsible sailor, is to change the culture that still exists aboard many ships and in the nautical world. A culture based on machismo, on abuse of power due to over-hierarchy, on complete ignorance towards environmental awareness, on white majority, and many other patterns still found aboard ships as a heritage from colonialism.


The ocean needs the good pirates.

10. The main learning behind every single lesson and hour of studying was: the ocean is definitely our biggest master. We already knew that, since it is the main pillar of all our work as Piratas do Amor. But now it is as clear as crystal water. The art of navigation, the community life on a ship, the connection that we develop with nature and all the other things that we learn and do when out at sea, definitely form the perfect combo. A combo of practices, values and skills that I believe are SO necessary for us, humanity, if we want to make a difference and leave a better trace for the next generations.


Last snow before spring. Saying good bye to the training ship De Kaatje and our beloved school!


It`s time to go sailing!

I am SO stoked to go back to the sea and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.


In two weeks from now we will set sails with Tilvera Expeditions to Spitsbergen (read our last Blogpost for details), a one month journey to the end of the world (at least that`s how it feels like for me), and we will be sharing the details about this adventure on our blog and Telegram Group.


I feel beyond grateful for the Enkhuizer Zeevaartschool for ALL the learnings and knowledge obtained, for all the inspiring teachers we met and for all the new friends we made.

I am so happy we took this crazy decision to apply to the school one year ago, after our Tarot reading back in São Paulo/Brazil (read the corresponding Blogpost here).


Time to go sailing. And to keep all fingers crossed so that we pass all our exams!


Salty kisses and warm hug, Pirate!


Much love

Raíssa


∞ If you want to find out about the Enkhuizer Zeevaartschool and apply for one of their courses: click here.


∞ If you want to join Tilvera in one of their expeditions to Svalbard, Iceland or Greenland: click here.

Thank you everyone who made our time here unforgettable! We will take all those learnings to the seven seas and beyond!

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