Challenge 2018

We set off with 20 cadets (some weren’t actually cadets) and 4 staff members on
Sunday the 29th of July, excited for the opportunity to go away for a week and
learn great new skills from the experienced crew members.

Sunday:
This was when we got the coach to Portsmouth to meet the two boats.
Unfortunately, our coach was two hours late, but we still arrived with plenty of
time to be given all our briefs for life on the boat. We learnt all the relevant
safety information and were sorted into two watches, to spilt up the general tasks
on the boat. We then fitted our lifejackets and got issued with our wet weather
gear, which turned out to be great for keeping warm in the wind. Due to the
weather we didn’t set sail that day but instead got settled by unpacking into our
boxes and choosing bunks. We took advantage of the extra time by making a start
on our navigation practise by planning the route for the channel crossing. We then
cooked our first meal and got to know the crew on the boat before settling in for
night.

Monday:
On our first day of sailing we prepped the deck ready to go and set off from
Portsmouth. Some friendly dolphins swam next to the boat as we made our way to
Poole, practising our sailing skills such as helming the boat and hoisting the sails
up. Cooking presented a slight challenge as we were sailing at a 30-degree angle,
but we managed to make lunch edible at least. We also ran a man overboard drill.
Poor Bob (the fender, not the person) took a dive over the side so we could
experience how difficult it would be to rescue a person if a MOB happened for
real.

Tuesday:
The day of the channel crossing. We set off at 8:30, a little earlier as we had a lot
further to go. During the 80-mile journey we had to cross a few major shipping
lanes, so we had to be careful to avoid collisions. Some people spent a large
proportion of the day sunbathing, but everyone participated the deck work such as
tacking and steering. We also had some lessons, so we could complete the sailing
syllabuses we were working on. Once we arrived in Alderney, we anchored up and
cooked dinner. Challenger 3 got there a little later then us as their main sail ripped
so they had to switch it for a different one.

Wednesday:
In the morning we got a water taxi onto the island after some questionable-looking
pancakes but they tasted pretty good (with lots of sugar). There was a lovely beach there, so we changed into our swimming costumes and got in the water. The other boat wasn’t
prepared to go swimming but decided to anyway and so they got soaked in their
clothes. Once we were back on the boat, we set off. There wasn’t enough wind to
get by on sail power alone, so we motored across the channel. We still put the sails
up for the free workout of sweating and winching them all the way to the top.
Throughout the day, we practised other things such as knot tying, leadership
exercises and of course more route planning (this time mapping out what each
buoy and lighthouse would mean during the night sail). The watch system was put
in place after dinner, so we could take turns getting some rest while sailing into
Yarmouth. We were all awake for the final section which was docking and setting
up all the fenders before turning in at around 1:30 in the morning.

Thursday:
This was our last day of actually sailing but before we departed we had time to
shower and get some ice creams. We also climbed up the mast, it was a great view
from the top. We also inflated the dinghies and did some rowing around. While
underway we set up the spinnaker pole and took turns climbing up to it. Once we
had arrived back in Portsmouth we got started with tidying up the boat and
packing our stuff so there would be less work to do the next day. This involved
washing the deck of the boat with the hose (leading to a few water fights).

Friday:
On the final day we put our bags onto the pontoon, so we could do a full clean
through of the boat, wiping down all the surfaces and moping the floors. Once this
was completed we were presented with all our certificates and some great mugs.
We took some team photos and said our goodbyes before we got back on the coach
to head home.

“We sailed from Portsmouth to Poole; on our voyage we experienced gale-force winds, flying pasta, and a ripped sail. Whilst a member of staff was helming, we faced our biggest challenge yet, a ripped sail! All crew were called on deck due to having to pull down the sail as quickly as possible. We had the entire crew on the fore-deck helping to bring the sail down. Once the sail was down, we had to get it out the way quickly in order for us to put up the new Yankee sail. This experience showed how we had all become one big team; it was not about individuals.”

The expedition has led to some of the crew members, who were not part of the Sea cadet Corp, wishing to join.  They have also talked about their experience to their friend on returning to school.  This was due to having such an exciting time on board and being able to be part of group of similar aged young people; working well together and all being treated as equals.  Learning new skills and being self-sufficient in not only sailing the yachts but having to cook meals for 15 other crew members.

Overall, this week was a great experience for everyone involved and we learnt a
great deal whilst enjoying ourselves immensely. We are all grateful for the
wonderful time we had despite returning to Portsmouth with one less cadet than
we left with (we did not lose him, he stayed on the isle of White with his grand parents on our return leg).

Everyone who went on the trip said they would love to go again as it
was an amazing trip.

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With thanks to:

Ulysses Trust

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