POLAHS Travel Diaries #4: Sailing Norway!

The shared voyage not only teaches the crew how to sail a tall ship, but promotes equality, sharing, and celebrating individual differences. Since 1978, over 40,000 people have sailed with JST, approximately 15,000 of whom were physically disabled. There are no passengers; everyone works to the best of his or her ability. The two JST ships, Lord Nelson and Tenacious, have sailed hundreds of thousands of miles, operating in European and North Atlantic waters.


Through the generosity of a school donor, POLAHS students Josue Woodard (’20) and Shane Seery (’19) embarked on a fourteen-day journey aboard the Lord Nelson in Bergen, Norway this summer.




My Jubilee Sailing Trust Experience: Josue Woodard


Hi, my name is Josue. I applied for this opportunity because I love to sail, and I thought it would be an incredible experience that would aid me in my future. I’ve sailed twice a week for the POLAHS Sailing Team at Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club for the past three years.


My favorite part of this trip was either being able to helm the boat, or going on the scenic train ride in Flam, because I can say that I helmed a tall ship in the Sognefjord and in the Hardangerfjord. I saw the most beautiful sights. During this trip, I learned many new lessons that I will take with me for the rest of my life. For example, now I know that I can sustain myself without my mom, and that I'm not going to have to rely on her when I leave for college.


I met many people on the ship, most of whom were interesting folks with tales of their wonderful lives. Two of which, Dom and Sharon, I will never forget. Dom is definitely the sweetest man on the face of this planet. He fought in the English military where he met Sharon, and they became lifelong pals. His war stories were phenomenal because he was always funny, and filled with good-hearted humor. Another man, Gary, was legally blind. He was someone you would always want around.


While on the boat, we would start the day by either going to clean the boat or do something with the sails, depending on what our watch leader, Simon, would tell us. Afterward, we would have smoko, which was when everybody would drink tea or coffee and eat cake or biscuits (cookies).


About half of the people on the boat had physical disabilities, although most of them were very independent and were able to maneuver without help. If anyone needed my help to go down the stairs, I would always help in any way I could. The boat had lifts, handrails, wheelchair locks, and a speaking compass, so it was very accessible for any disabilities. 




My Jubilee Sailing Trust Experience: Shane Seery


I’ve always wanted to travel but didn’t expect to do it at age 18. I’ve never gone outside of the country on a plane, and it was definitely unique to be by myself. I learned what it was like to manage my own money and a budget.


I applied for the trip because I love the water and have sailed a bit in the past. In my POLAHS Boat Operations class, I learned about tying knots. Through the trip, I learned that I’m good at leading at people, breaking duties into simple steps for people to follow. I also work well in a team; I think I’m a good follower and leader. Some of our job duties on the ship were docking, setting sails, pulling up in a key, tying up and getting off the dock, and cleaning the boat. 


We met so many people on the ship and in Norway. Their accents and foreign language surprised me most! For example, in British slang they say, “Cheers, mate.” They call a lot of things pudding. It was fun to learn. The people living in Bergen were very friendly. We met one man in town who was completely paralyzed from the neck down, and had been on the previous voyage. He shared that the trip was mind opening, and gave him a sense of joy about life. He was getting into a rut before the trip, so his experience helped kick start him back up and made him feel good about living. I’m so grateful that I was able to meet him. 


In January 2020, I leave to join to United States Navy. I love our country and am patriotic. I like the professionalism of the military, and I work well under structure and routine. I like being physical. In the military, they provide a good life for you, and you’re able to see the world. Through the Jubilee sail, I have a better outlook on how big the world really is. I didn’t realize how far we were going until we actually went. It was a huge eye opener. 


To our trip donor, I want to start off with saying thank you. I’m really grateful you able, and WANT to do this kind of thing for students. It was an amazing trip. Actually I don’t know how to put it into words. 




Day 2: Today we left the docks in a parade, and I was assigned to the moorings group which means I, along with five other people, have to pull a giant rope in the boat when we leave the dock. Then I went up on a platform while a person passed me the rope and I coiled it on top of the platform. There was a training on how to pull this rope. So a lot of tough work today. There was also training to climb up the mast today. I’m normally scared of heights, but I decided to go up. It was cool and the view was incredible. I went to sleep early to catch up on the hours I missed to finally catch up on Norway time.

Day 3: This is our first full day out on the water. I took lead at pulling a rope where I have to yell, “2, 6, HEAVE!” and pull the rope down while the rest of the crew pulls the rope behind me. That killed my thighs and they have not recovered at all. I went to sleep before dinner, and again straight to sleep afterwards, because I had midnight - 4am watch. I was woken up for watch duty, where I had to put on two jackets and sweatpants to keep warm. I was able to experience the beautiful view of the Songnfjord at night, with the sunlight peaking behind the mountains. I saw the moon rise which was incredible because it was yellow and really bright, very different from the other side of the world where the moon just kind of comes up. I helmed the boat four times today and was able to keep course while a couple of cruise ships passed us. After 4am, Shane went on wake-up call, and we all switched our duties and went to bed.

Day 4: Today is the day we reached Flåm, a little town at the end of a fjord vein. It’s pretty nice, very hot, but also absolutely gorgeous. I have mess duty today so I miss out on watch, which means I get to get some sleep. Shane and I went to this little beach which was cool because the water was super clear, while also being really cold. When we got to the beach, there wasn’t a staircase so we had to go down this weird rock decline, in which I slipped and fell. It was funny because I fell the first time I got on the boat going down the stairs. So it’s my second time slipping in another country, but who’s really counting? Dinner was super nice. I got the Taste of the Fjord - which was a bunch of seafood from the fjord; it had shrimp, octopus, salmon, crawfish, cod, caviar, and this other type of fish that came with some vinegar on a clam.


Day 5: Today we get to spend all day in Flåm. There isn’t much to do today on the boat but there is a bus ride to a view point or a scenic train ride. I chose the train ride because I thought there would be more sights to see. I rode with Fritz, Lachlan, Ruth, Mislav, and Anne, and we saw some really great sights. There was a huge waterfall that was super cool and everything we saw was gorgeous. I got THREE scoops of ice cream which was really good, probably due to the fresh supply of milk from the cows. When we got back, Dom, Simon, Sam (cook’s assistant), and Sian all went to the beach, and I did a front flip off the pontoon. We all dove and swam around in the clear water. I stayed up until Sian was finished with her watch and we meditated for five minutes, because she wanted me to teach her how to do it. Then we all went to sleep.

Day 6: We leave Flåm today, so that means I have to do the mooring stations, which isn’t hard but requires a heavy, 3” diameter rope. Through Leadership at Sea, we had to learn how to tie a certain knot so we can teach the others, and mine was a cleat knot. Apparently Sian is a pro at tying a cleat knot so she insisted on teaching me how to tie one. So after the knot tying workshop, we had a meeting and it was on having to experience the feeling of being disabled. So I had to use a wheelchair for 4 hours and 40 minutes, which was very hard. I got a bunch of tips from the other guys, and by the end of my tenure I had figured out how to pop a wheelie in order to get over a bump. Fritz taught me how to transfer, since I wasn’t allowed to use my legs, and he showed me the difference in chairs because his chair was way lighter and more agile than the one I was using. Granted his was also 2,000£. I have anchor watch today with Shane (in a wheelchair), and Simon from 8-10pm. Then we all went to sleep at around 1:30am.

Day 7: We arrive in Måløy and it looks like a pretty cool place. A nice little town about 3 miles long and 4-6 streets up, very quaint, very homey. Shane and I decide to go scope out the town and see how it looks. We find out that there was a raid here, where the conjoined force of the Allies in WWII fought and beat Hitler. After coming back, we all play this game involving beans and a box and we play UNO. After they go to bed, Shane and I try to get a little bit of sleep because we have watch from 12-2am. It wasn’t too cold but the wind chill definitely made it worse. We’re supposed to leave tomorrow at about 10am and head to another town that I heard is going to be really cool.

Day 8: We got to swim off the boat into the Fjord today, so now I get to say I swam in the Fjords twice. We started heading out to the sea and it is kicking up out here. I’m used to the boat getting launched up and slamming into the water on my FJ but not on a tall ship - it’s crazy! I didn’t feel good today and I threw up, but then Simon, my watch leader, gave me some medicine and I went to sleep. Afterwards I was fine.

Day 9: Today was great. I was finally able to figure out how to not get sick on the boat. I have to do three things: drink tea, eat food, and get fresh air. I have mess duty today. After dinner I played some Uno, then Matt and I picked up a couple of guitars and started just playing around. We got ahold of a music book and found Country Roads and WE PLAYED THE HELL OUT OF IT. It was so much fun and made me feel so happy. Afterwards I played Redbone by Childish Gambino and was able to sing it pretty well, too. I’m really glad that I get along with this group of people, they make this journey worthwhile. And I can genuinely say... I love this trip.

Day 10: Today I went to the beach a couple times. I went with Sian and Lachlan and we all had a pretty good time. Tonight there’s the barbecue which I am pretty excited for because I heard it was really fun from Marte who went on the last voyage. It’s Sian’s birthday today. We went to this store and I got this Norwegian candy.

Day 13: We finally reached back to Bergen, and I am excited because since this is pretty much our last day. While we were getting fuel today, which took 3 hours, they needed people to go up on the sails and make them look pretty, so I did that. I was so scared and I got down after the first sail because I couldn’t take it. So Charlie, Marte, Shane, Sian, Hanna, these two other guys that went on the last voyage, and I all went to sing karaoke.

Day 14: Today is that last day and I finished packing last night. I’m sad because I really like the people on this boat and genuinely enjoyed my trip, but part of me is pretty excited too because I’m ready to go home and see my mom. Our flight is at 1:35 and we got Marte to give us a ride. I think the funniest part about this is that I now have people all across Britain calling me Sué… which is actually pretty cool.


Tuesday, July 23rd


Yesterday was the beginning of my trip to Norway. It started at 6:15am (California time) on

July 22nd and we arrived in Bergen, Norway at 9:25am on July 23. It was 3 long flights. I slept

for the entirety of the first flight. Once in Bergen, Josue and I waited for our luggage for about 3 hours. Then once it was

time for our luggage to arrive it was not there. So we left to the boat. We caught a bus to Bergen

downtown. From there we walked to the boat. Once settled in everybody was called to go to the lower area where we would go over basic safety and how the ship will be ran. When it was time for dinner Josue and I left to go back to the airport to get our bags.

Once back on the ship, there was a show of fireworks in the harbor.


Wednesday, July 24th


Today I woke up and I was on watch, where we saw the other boats leave the harbor and wave and shout goodbye. Lots of big ships left playing music and doing choreographed

moves on their way out. Once it was our time to leave we pulled up the mooring lines and left our docked position. When we were out of the harbor we started opening up the sails which required us to sweat the lines and tie them up to secure them.

Thursday, July 25th

I woke up today and we were still anchored. So after breakfast we had to pull up the anchor.

I was part of a crew that tucked away the chain that’s attached to the anchor. It was mainly just

pulling. Once we were sailing, I began my watch from 8:00am to 12:00pm. The watch consisted

of me driving the wheel of the ship and keeping watch for anything we could run into. After lunch we were told about our Leadership at Sea program. Our first task was to look around the ship to see if we could identify the things they add to the ship to help the disabled.


Friday, July 26th

Today I woke up and we were still sailing, headed to a place called Flam. A little town at the end of a fjord. Really pretty scenery. We arrived around 3:00pm and got done docking and hooking up mooring lines around 3:30pm. There was two birthdays today. The cook, Dave, made a cake with happy birthday and both their names on it. We sang happy birthday to them and went out to dinner at a pub. The food was really good and pretty cheap. I got a roasted chicken with some vegetables. After the dinner, I walked around the town and talked to some locals about the things they do around town and some activities people do for fun. Some of the people go hiking in the mountains right behind the town and others ride mountain bikes in some of the trails.


Saturday, July 27th

Most people from the boat ended up going on a train ride to a waterfall. I stayed back and did some shopping in the town. I ended up just getting a T-shirt.

While leaving I was part of a mooring team which had to pull up and coil the mooring lines.

Later that night I was on mess duty which is basically kitchen duties. So I assisted the cook in

setting up and cleaning. Then after dinner was all cleaned up I went to bed.


Sunday, July 28th

Today, I woke up and had breakfast. After lunch I had disabled awareness training, which means I was in a wheelchair for 4 hours and could not use

my legs whatsoever. It was definitely insightful. Getting around the boat was a challenge,

especially when going through doorways.

Later in the night I was on anchor watch. The main thing about anchor watch is to make

sure the boat isn’t moving while anchored. I enjoyed it because I was able to relax and just

look at the water. After watch I went to bed.


Monday, July 29th

Today I woke up and we were sailing to a place called Malloy. When we got there I was on a

mooring station which means I handle tying the boat to the dock. Mooring stations are the most

dangerous thing to do on the boat. Sailors lose their lives every year to mooring

lines crushing them or dragging them. So doing it is a little scary.

Once I was in the town I went and walked around. What was interesting was seeing my first frisbee golf course.


Tuesday, July 30th

Today I was exhausted from watch. I slept almost all day, until we arrived at our anchor spot.  


Wednesday, July 31st

Today was good. I woke up and drank some coffee in the

rain. Before lunch they said over the loud speaker that we’re going swimming off the ship. I was very happy. They put out a little platform that extended from

the ship so we could jump off. Instantly I did a backflip into the water.

We started doing games like silly salmon which is when you jump off you flop like a fish and try to land head first into the water. After swimming we pulled up anchor and went back to sea. And for the rest of the day we were at sea.


Thursday, August 1st

Today is Thursday and I only have 4 more days left. I’m excited to go home but sad to leave

such a great experience. Today we are in Norheimsund, a very small town with some

restaurants and a beach. We went swimming off a dock. It had a diving board so we were

jumping off and doing flips. When we got back to the ship the engineers were having a

barbecue. They were making burgers, steaks and other stuff. It was all delicious and cooked

well. After I ate I went to bed.


Sunday, August 4th

Last day of sailing and we’re pretty close to getting back to Bergen. Bergen was fun when

we left so I’m excited to get to walk around there again. First, before we got to Bergen we had to

fuel up the ship for a couple of hours. I helped handle lines when we docked.