On the 28th of June 2015 Basingstoke Sea Cadets ventured out on a week’s trip to Gibraltar to complete a Competent Crew course with All Abroad Sailing Academy.
The first day mainly consisted of travelling. We arrived in Gibraltar in the midday heat, which gave us an idea of the weather to come! Our boat, a Bavaria 44, was set in picturesque surroundings leaving us extremely excited. We finished our evening with a fantastic meal in a nearby restaurant, finally settling down for our first night in our new home.
Our aims for the first day of sailing were to learn the safety procedures such as water and electricity for the boat, vital for the week ahead. Unfortunately one of the cadets was struck down with food poisoning which provided a challenge when learning about manoeuvres like man overboard drills where everyone had to play a vital role. Fortunately this cadet managed to catch up on these vital skills thanks to the staff and other cadets there.
The second day started on a more positive note. All cadets were well and we set off towards our first destination, Duquesa, in good time. The waves were calm which helped in our first voyage and meant we could concentrate on the theory side of sailing a yacht. There were many times when teamwork was key, for example when putting reefs into the sail to make it smaller when the wind picked up around Europa Point. This required communication between all of us as well as an understanding of how the boat worked. Another challenge was the heat that reached 42°C – higher than we had experienced before. We overcame this by looking out for each other and making sure we were hydrated and protected from the scorching rays. We finished the eventful day with a rewarding (and much needed) ice cream whilst exploring the beautiful town.
The next morning we were off again, this time to the lively town of Estepona. We practiced more techniques like anchoring, berthing bow-to and coming alongside. These skills also required us to work together to ensure we protected the boat and moored it correctly. The highlight of the day came when we spotted dolphins and whales swimming alongside us. It gave us a real chance to appreciate the experience we had been given. Arriving in Estepona, we unfortunately moored into the wrong berth. This gave us a chance to use the skills we had learned that morning. After we had found an ice cream parlour to cool down in, we all helped with dinner. We did this every night and it involved duties like washing up and calculating how much food we would need – important for living independently.
On Thursday we sailed off to Ceuta, in Africa – our biggest challenge yet. The wind, which was supposed to be on our side, became our nemesis. Battling the wind and waves left us all cold and wet, and almost the entire crew succumbed to seasickness. We had no choice but to continue and finally, after a hellish eight hour trip sailing into the wind on a close reach, we arrived in North Africa. Unfortunately the facilities were some of the worst we had seen on the trip but the culture and scenery definitely made up for it!
Our last day sailing took us back to Gibraltar through the Straits. This journey was half the length of the previous day’s sailing and we arrived just in time for lunch. With the rest of the day left, we further explored the historic country, finding souvenirs (and shoes) for family and friends back home. We ate out once more (thankfully no one contracted food poisoning!) before getting ready for the night sail. This sail provided a chance for us to put our theory into practice in a real-life situation. It was a definite change from a day sail and required more concentration as we all had to keep look out when sailing in the dark. By the time we got back we were exhausted but it was a bittersweet moment mooring up for the last time.
On the last day we started packing and cleaning the boat up ready for its next crew. Certificates were awarded for Competent Crew awards as well as one member of staff gaining miles towards their Offshore Skipper award. We went around Gibraltar one last time, soaking in the culture before saying goodbye to our temporary home and heading back to the UK.