1248 – ‘Island Hoppers’ – Channel

At 9 o clock we met at our unit headquarters to be picked up by coach to be taken directly to Plymouth Marina. This was an exciting time for some of the cadets as some of them had never been away from their parents, resulting in a tearful experience. On arrival at the marina the ships coxswain and first lieutenant greeted us and we were later introduced to the ships captain and engineer. The cadets were then issued with ‘wet weather gear’ and safety equipment. After dinner and a safety brief we were given a guided tour of the tall ship T.S Royalist, another offshore vessel within the fleet. We left Plymouth on Sunday morning after breakfast and the daily round of medication and headed for Brixham. The cadets took up their duties in the galley (kitchen) and engine room, as well as being on the bridge steering, navigating and keeping a lookout. The closer we got to Brixham the heavy fog enveloped us and more cadets needing to be on lockout. Visibility was down to 100 metres, so the ships foghorn needed to be sounded every 2 minutes and the radar was need to show where other ships and boats were located. Once we arrived in Brixham the fog lifted.

Monday involved a very early start for the channel crossing to Guernsey and navigating through the busy shipping lanes of the English Channel. The crossing took 7 hours of cruising at a steady 7 knots. Several of the cadets were sick due to the rolling of the boat. Many different ships and lobster pots were carefully spotted on the way over to avoid unnecessary collisions and propeller failure. On arrival in Guernsey, at low tide with only 0.9 of a metre of water below us, we carefully navigated through the harbour onto a pontoon via the local harbour master. This required a lot of silence on the bridge and careful concentration from the cadet on the wheel at this time. The pontoon wasn’t connected to shore and so we had to lower the sea boat to ferry the cadets across to the land.

Tuesday involved a short trip over to the small island of Sark where we were anchored in a bay. Again, the sea boat was lowered to transport the cadets across to the island. When we went back to the boat the cadets had the chance to go swimming in the sea and jump off the side of the ship.

We stayed all day in the bay and left very late in the evening for a night crossing to France. The cadets took two-hour shifts on the bridge throughout the night all the way to St. Malo, where we anchored in a bay an hour away from St. Malo on the Wednesday morning.

In the morning the cadets requested to have a re-make of the ‘McDonalds Breakfast Wrap’ to feel a little more homely. We entered St. Marlo harbour through a lock and the road bridge was lifted for us. The ship spent the day in St. Malo and the Cadets went to the open-air swimming pool on the beach.

Thursday morning we left St. Malo early to catch the lock out of the harbour and made our way across to Jersey. The French customs cutter escorted us out.

On arrival in Jersey we anchored outside of St. Hellier to allow our sister ship, T.S John Jerwood, to re-fuel. On completion we were able to enter the harbour to moor alongside the re-fuelling jetty where we took on 1500 litres of fuel. The cadets helped by sending one of the cadets up onto the jetty to receive and transmit messages and signals back down to the ship. We then went to our berth alongside the John Jerwood and thoroughly cleaned the ship and took on fresh water. Once completed, the cadets were allowed shore leave.

On the Friday morning, both ships companies travelled by coach to the local airport where we caught a flight back to Southampton. From there we got on a train back to Basingstoke where the cadets where greeted by their waiting parents.

With thanks to:

Ulysses Trust

In partnership with:

Nuffield Trust