Today we would like to introduce you to deckhand Amelie! Not only is she a fervent sailor, her lens captures the sea's essence while her voice and violin carry shanties over the waves. Meet Amélie!🌊
What is your name, age, and where are you from?
My name is Amélie, I’m 27 years old and I’m from Canada.
What inspired you to join the crew of Bark EUROPA, how did you join the crew?
My grandfather was a sailor, like most of my ancestors before him, so I grew up hearing a lot of (probably exaggerated) stories about the ocean… obviously I wanted a taste of it! Until I turned 22, I was sure I’d be a musician but I started doubting my career choice and decided to give sailing a try. It was instant love and I went from one ship to another as I gained more experience. I was very unlucky with my first sailing contracts; some were canceled 4 days before they started, some of my ships endured severe damage, the pandemic happened… I ended up spending way more time in shipyards than on the ocean. I didn’t expect to be hired on Europa just by sending in my resume… but I think saying you have a lot of shipyard experience on a resume does help!
What is it like to live and work on a tall ship?
I find Europa amazing to live in because she’s very “human” size. It’s not a huge ship with so many people onboard that you don’t recognize some faces at the end of a trip but it has everything one might need. I worked on ships that didn’t have any showers and my jaw dropped when I saw there was one in each cabin. It’s a very cozy and comfortable ship to be in while facing harsh environments like the Drake passage. Workwise, it’s a good mix of stimulating challenges and learning experiences while having endless amounts of fun, incredibly interesting people to interact with, and gorgeous scenery in the background.
What do you do when you are not on the ship?
I think my biggest fear is to be bored so I do a lot wherever I am; I work for other ships, I sometimes perform with my band, I do freelance photography and freelance translation, I work on building my future home in a bus… I really enjoy applying what I learn on Europa in my land life, so if it involves manual skills, I’ll probably give it a try!
Could you tell us about a unique destination you've visited on board EUROPA and what made it special?
Everywhere I went with Europa was new to me, so every trip was an amazing discovery. It’s hard to pick one, especially when Antarctica is one of the choices! I think Lysefjorden in Norway will always have a special place in my heart because it was the destination of my first trip on Europa, and it was also a very last minute planned voyage; the fact that, unexpectedly, I could suddenly sail to Norway, still blows my mind.
Can you share a funny or unexpected moment that happened during one of your voyages?
While sailing from the Netherlands to Tenerife, we spotted an abandoned styrofoam box floating by. We tried to grab it with the boat hook from the ship but the current wasn’t helping. Always keen to go for a swim, I suggested I jump in the water (with a harness and a line tied to the ship, don’t worry!) and I didn’t really have to convince anyone. A few seconds later I was jumping in the water and swimming in the middle of nowhere. When I got to the box, I grabbed it and turned around to see Europa, majestically standing in the sunset. I think I especially like that memory because it’s mine only; I was alone in the water and I just have this special image of Europa that no one else has.
What's the most memorable moment you've experienced while sailing on Bark EUROPA?
I’d say every chance I had to look at the starry sky while being away from the coast was memorable. Being woken up at 01:45 in the morning to start working isn’t the most pleasant thing but if I step on deck and notice there’s no clouds and I can just stare at this blanket of stars above my head for a few moments, it’s worth it.
What are some of the challenges you face as a crew member and how do you overcome them?
That’s specific to me, but I was born with a rare chronic illness and I discovered that I sometimes struggle a bit more than the rest of the crew; I have to do the same job but while dealing with pain or slow metabolism. The good thing is that it really taught me a lot about interrogating myself on what I need to be my best self and pushed me into trying different routines to make it work. It sometimes involves sacrifices, like resting in my bunk instead of visiting a cool new place, but in the end, I get to sail and do what I love despite my illness and I’ll always be grateful for that.
What is the most important lesson you've learned from your experiences on Bark EUROPA?
While bending on a square sail, do not send all your North American sailors on one side of the yard and all your European sailors on the other because you will end up in the middle of a unit of measurement confusion…
Can you the teamwork among the crew?
Teamwork really is part of everything onboard and honestly, it’s the people that make it all worth it. Every day you can learn something new from someone and even in shipyards, it feels like traveling because everyone comes from many different places. I find it amazing that when something breaks, there’s almost always one person that’ll know how to fix it or make it better.
Are there any unique traditions or rituals that the crew?
Something I really like about working on Europa is the insane amount of opportunities you can have to learn new things because people let you get involved in aspects that typically don’t belong to the deck crew; like baking! I’ve never had any talent for cooking but after baking bread during the night watch so many times or accepting the challenge to bake 4 birthday cakes from a recipe in a Dutch cooking book, I find myself enjoying baking more when I’m on land.
Can you share an interesting behind-the-scenes story or fun fact about the ship that most people may not know?
Although tight, we do have a lot of storage space for food onboard and sometimes, we even get ice cream for dessert…
How has being a part of Bark EUROPA's crew influenced your perspective on the ocean and the environment?
Every time I sail, I gain more respect for the ocean and its wildlife and it never gets boring. I’ve seen a lot of whales, dolphins, penguins, killer whales sometimes, but I’m always very excited to see them and to realize how we’re sharing the same piece of the ocean for a little while. It’s a big contrast to have this wide open space in front of you and then come back to the density of the land.
Have a look at Amélie's photography here: www.amiralephotographie.com