Belief through Challenge 2019

Background

Over the period of the 29 June 2019 to the 05 July 2019 Cadets from the following schools:

  • Viewforth High School
  • Broxburn Academy
  • Govan Highschool
  • Moffat Academy
  • Kilwinning Academy

conducted Belief Beyond Challenge 2019 part 1, a sailing voyage with the Cirdan Trust aboard the Faramir sailing out of Hartlepool.

1.2. Lt Col Sarah Rawlings, Deputy Colonel Cadets 51 Brigade , provided the pre exercise planning and collated all fund raising whilst the actual voyage consisted of 13 cadets led by SSI Craig Ross with the assistance of 2Lt Abigail Robertson under the direction of the Cirdan Trust Crew.

1.3. The voyage was limited due to engine troubles resulting in the sailing element being cut rather short. Our planned route would have covered a distance of 180 miles from Hartlepool to Peter head. Due to the engine malfunction we only covered a distance of 64 miles, ending our voyage in Amble in Northumberland. At the outset upon arrival in Hartlepool we faced a time constraint as the high tide was fast approaching, so we had to load the ship fast and get out of the harbour. Once out at sea we the engine malfunction became apparent and it as concluded that we would have to dock at Royal Quays Marina near Newcastle.

1.4. Day 2 saw the crew trying to repair the engine issue. The cadets spent the morning doing theory lessons and a visit to the shops and a PT session at a nearby park.

1.5. Day 3 we were able to set sail again but again, ran into engine issues resulting in us having to head to Amble to dock for repairs. Due to time constraints we had to anchor off shore off Amble to wait for the next high tide, which was at 0330hrs the following morning. A group of the cadets and the crew got up and sailed the ship into Amble Marina.

1.6. Day 4, the crew organised an afternoon of kayaking for the cadets followed by more lessons and group activities.

1.7. Day 5, the crew sent us to a secluded beach for a picnic lunch and beach activity followed by a tour of the coast guard station in Amble while the crew inspected and attempted repair of the engine. But unfortunately it was beyond repair.

1.8. Day 6, a day of paddle boarding was organised by the Trust and a small walking expedition back to the marina. Due to the work being done on the Faramir, it was not safe for the cadets to sleep on the ship so alternative accommodation was sourced by the Trus; the church hall in Amble.

1.9. From there, on day 7 our exercise ended.

1.10. The cadets dealt with mixed weather & sea conditions to complete tasks like raising and lowering the sails, adjusting various lines and pulls, adjusting the sails, steering the vessel, general domestic duties, cooking and navigating the route whilst at all times remember to look out for each other and work as a team.

Exercise Aims & Objectives

1.11. This voyage served as a trial run for future voyages in the future. It allowed lessons to be learnt in the planning and administration of the exercise, time needed to fully benefit from the experience, funding needed and prior training needed for those taking part.

1.12. To give disadvantaged young people the opportunity of a life time.
1.13. To enhance the individual, team working and leadership skills of our cadets.
1.14. To provide a relatively expensive activity at a minimal cost.
1.15. To provide cadets and CFAV with a recognised Introduction to sailing qualification and begin work towards a Competent Crew qualification.

Preparation Training

1.16. Due to this activity being aimed at an inexperienced group, all training was provided once aboard the ship by the Cirdan Trust crew.

1.17. It was known that preparation and cooking of food was going to be an integral part of the trip so CFAV were required to complete a level 2 food hygiene course prior to deploying.

Itinerary

1.33. We selected a time period during the summer holidays so that cadets weren’t taking time out of school and to avoid CFAV needing to take additional holidays from work. These dates were Saturday 29 June 2019 to Friday 05 July 2019. Also taken into account whilst choosing these dates were ACF Battalions Annual Camps. We were advised to arrive at Hartlepool as early as possible on the Saturday so we could leave on the high tide around noon and get a good day of sailing.

1.34. Step one, after all the planning was complete was purchasing all foods needed for the trip. SSI Ross and 2Lt Robertson did this the night before leaving for the trip and did a large ASDA shop.

1.35. Step two was arriving at Hartlepool which is 184 miles away from the furthest school. To achieve this we organised 2 mini buses. One from the Black Watch Battalion which left from Viewforth High School at 0630hrs, picked up Broxburn Academy and met up with the second bus at Govan Detachment. The second bus left from Dalmellington at 0600hrs, picking up Moffat academy, Kilwinning and Govan cadets. At 0815 cadets from both buses left Govan on the second mini bus and headed for Hartlepool.

1.36. Due to unforeseen traffic on route to Hartlepool we arrived at approx. 1230hrs, at 1330hrs we had to set sail due to tide restrictions. So we wasted no time getting the stores stowed away aboard the Faramir, and allocating beds and equipment. Accommodation aboard was basic but effective. There was a 2 and a 3 bed bunk at the front of the vessel which the femal cadets occupied, a 2 bed bunk opposite the heads and a 4 bed area in the middle which the male cadets occupied and a separate 2 bed area at the back which the CFAV occupied.

1.37. The last thing before we got started was the important safety brief from the Skipper, covering the clip on protocol, what happens if someone goes overboard, the rules, emergency procedures and the rules when on board.

1.38. Once aboard the first thing we had to do was load all of our kit and food stores. To do this we first had to load it onto the deck then using a chain method, pass it all below deck via a small hatch. The cadets were then tasked with storing the food away in the space provided. At first they weren’t convinced it would all fit. This task was a good chance for the natural leaders of the group to step forward and introduced the cadets to working as a team. Once finished in the galley we then had to allocate bunks and pack away our personal kit. Nothing could be left lying out as in rough seas, these items would bounce around below deck. This was a good way of teaching the cadets to be tidy and organised and to pack away things they weren’t using.

1.39. Due to the time constraint of the tide, the crew were anxious to get moving so as soon as we finished loading and storing all our stores they issued out the life jackets and water proofs and put everyone to work. It was very much a “learn on the job” situation and everyone had to really pull together and communicate well. First job, raising the fenders from the side of the boat, then we had to alter the lies holding us in place so they could be quickly released.

1.40. The harbour in Hartlepool is a gated Harbour which means we had to wait for our time to leave, all hands were on deck at this point and spirits were very high as our adventure was about to begin. Due to how little time we had from arriving and setting sail the Cirdan Trust Crew did the majority of the work getting us out the gate but once through the hard graft began.

1.41. Once clear of the Harbour it was time to set the main sail, the stern sail and the bow sail which required everyone to pull together and then required several smaller but critical tasks to be done, adjusting the ropes and stowing away all un used equipment as the sea was getting more and more rough with each passing metre.

1.42. Now that we were out at open sea and all the sails are up it was time to get a brief from the Skipper on the watch system and for the cadets to find out who would be in their team for the exercise. We had 3 watches, red, blue and green, each team having 4 or 5 cadets. The function of this was to ensure that all cadets take their turn to do all tasks, from cooking and cleaning to sailing the ship at night. It was during this meeting that our first cadet was hit by the long awaited sea sickness. We were told if you need to be sick, clip in and hang your head over the side of the boat and “feed the fish”. It wasn’t long before the majority of our crew was down with sea sickness, including one of our CFAVs. Tears were shed and bellies were emptied but there was still work to be done. The first meal of the trip needed cooking.

1.43. A lot of the cadets were concerned when they learned that they would be the ones preparing and cooking all the meals, as well as cleaning up afterwards. Most claimed to have absolutely no experience in a kitchen and didn’t know what to do, which is where 2Lt Robertson stepped in, she supervised all meals being prepared, advising and teaching cadets what to do. Food is perfect to help the team get over the sea sickness. We soon learned the difficulties we would face preparing a meal down below when the boat is raising and dropping with the waves.

1.44. After we all enjoyed a fantastic meal it was of course time to clean up. A chore that our cadets were not overly used to. While one team kept the ship moving, another cleaned and our chefs of the evening got to relax for a short time. We then learned that we had an engine issue, a bolt had snapped off part of the engine and this resulted in the Skipper making the decision to head into land so repairs could be done. The Trust typically doesn’t head in land for the first 2 or 3 days of sailing. Due to the sea sickness the cadets were feeling they welcomed this news. We set a course to Royal Quays Marina in Newcastle.

1.45. Now approaching Royal Quays Marina, the sails had to come back down, buoys had to go back out and the lines had to be prepared to hitch us up. At this stage the sea sickness had massively dropped the moral and drive of some of our cadets but with a gentle push they managed to find the energy and the “get go” to bring us into port. Once we docked we all assembled round the table for the Skippers debrief on the day’s activities and achievements and an idea of what day 2 would involve. After that we all headed for bed.

1.46. Day 2, a group of the cadets and 2Lt Robertson woke up early to prepare breakfast for the team. Hot rolls and or cereal. After breakfast “happy hour” started. Happy hour is between 9 and 10. This is the time were all daily tasks must be done. Cleaning up breakfast, scrubbing the heads, clearing any and all clutter, engine checks etc. After that, due to the engine being damaged we had to keep ourselves busy while repairs were underway so we got the dingy in the water to learn how to row and have a race. Whilst one team was rowing, the rest of the cadets had a lesson on various different types of knots.

1.47. Once the rowing was finished we had lunch and were told that we could go a shore and explore. So we took the cadets to the shops and had a walk around the town. After that we returned to the boat and played some board and card games and on the menu was Fajitas, YUM!

1.48. The evening was spent playing spoons, which proved to be a very dangerous game as everyone became very competitive, crew and staff included, a tidy up of below deck and then we concluded the evening with a sing along on deck with SSI Ross and his guitar then then off to get our heads down.

1.49. Day 3 and engine repairs are almost finished. The crew and CFAV were up into the early hours of the morning trying to repair the engine so we could carry on sailing but there was still work to be done. Whilst this was happening the cadets decided to teach one of the crew some drill out on the dock. They taught her how to come to attention, stand at ease, right and left turn, how to march and how to halt. This was a good warm up for the cadets as they were about to be informed that they were going to a PT (personal Training) session with SSI Ross before setting sail.

1.50. After an amusing Drill lesson, the cadets set off to a near by park for a PT session. We started off by warming up our muscles and had a nice run around the park. This was followed by a series of circuits, push ups, sit ups, burpees, tunnel crawls to name a few of them. Finished the session with some team building workouts. Table push ups and a human pyramid.

1.51. After PT we had lunch the cadets got involved with the engine repairs, the were given a line that they all had to pull as hard as they could and then we finally got the good news we were waiting for, the engine issue was fixed and we aimed to set sail on the high tide at 1500hrs. So work began on getting ready to go. Buoys up, lines prepped, dingy out the water and sails ready to raise.

1.52. With the engine fixed, the boat prepared and the tide at its highest, it was time to set sail again. Once clear of the marina the winds really picked up. 27 knots at one point. The boat was lopped sided for a couple of miles, which surprisingly the cadets really enjoyed. One of the cadets learned the importance of clipping on and wearing a life jacket during rough seas as they nearly had a slip. Due to the strength of the wind we had to climb up to reach the main sail and tighten the knots at the base, this task the crew told us is not normally done by the young people but they were confident in our cadet’s abilities, which was fantastic!

1.53. On the menu for dinner was Chilli con carne. The group that were cooking started off strong but sea sickness took them one by one until 2Lt Robertson was left alone in the kitchen and due to the waves it was no easy task. Up on deck the cadets still standing were all on point, checking the sails, steering, navigating and learning how to fill the log books in. They also learned about what to be on the lookout for, other vessels, buoys and what the different ones are and what they for. Watching the youngsters at work was fantastic. Seeing how quickly they picked everything up and after very little practice or instruction they were practically sailing the ship by themselves. After Dinner we noticed a noise coming from the engine. After inspecting the Skipper had to make the unfortunate but necessary decision to head for land again. So we set sail for Amble.

1.54. The wind died down to almost nothing at all and with the engine not working correctly, it took some tie to reach Amble. By the time we got there the tide was too low to enter, so we anchored off shore. The cadets were given their watch times and taught what they had to do when on shift when the ship is anchored off shore. The jobs list was minimal, basically just watching and logging what they see. We sent the dingy into the marina with a crew member and SSI Ross to recce a spot to dock up. To get into the marina we would have to raise anchor at 0330hrs. Only one of the watches was supposed to wake for this but the majority of the cadets got up to help each other and sail us into port.

1.55. Day 4. With the engine out of commission and no clear idea of when it will be repaired the Cirdan Trust started planning activities for us to do. The first of which was a trip to the beach. Once at the beach the CFAV supervised a wee dip in the sea, which was freezing, had a small BBQ for lunch and finished off with some sports. After the beach, we were taken to the Amble Coast Guard centre for a tour. There the cadets learned what all the equipment is used for and how it is used and got to tour the Coast Guard boat.

1.56. Once back at the boat, prep on the evening meal started. The cadets started off by baking homemade rolls for day 5’s dinner. They went onto bake some beautiful chocolate and banana bread for desert and then the main meal, Chicken curry and rice. With the exception of the rice being slightly undercooked it was a fantastic meal.

1.57. After dinner we played a game around the table. The group was split into two teams, sitting at either side of the skipper. They had to link hands and close their eyes. The Skipper was dealing cards and when a red card was dealt, the team had to squeeze each other’s hands in a chain system. Once at the end the fastest team would reach for and grab a banana that was sitting between the two teams. This resulted in the banana being squished and going all over the table and the cadets. After this the cadets were left to their own devices as we knew we weren’t going to be sailing the following day due to an engineer coming to work on the engine but the cadets still chose to go to bed early for some much needed rest.

1.58. Day 5. After breakfast and clear up we headed to a nice grass area for another PT session. This session was a 3 part session. Starting with some strength and conditioning training with SSI Ross, then a Karate session with 2Lt Robertson. The cadets learned some basic punches, kicks and blocks and a Kion Kata. To finish the Karate session 2Lt Robertson and 2 of our cadets demonstrated an advanced movement, which was very impressive. To finish our session, one of the Cirdan crew, Pipper took the cadets through a yoga session.

1.59. After the PT it was time to get started on lunch. On the menu was Lentil soup and homemade bread. It went down a treat. We had to rush through lunch as the Cirdan Trust had booked us an afternoon kayaking up the river.

1.60. Once we arrived at the kayaking centre we were welcomed by a very nice team of instructors and they got us all kitted out. We had a choice of single or 2 person kayaks. Once on the water and after 15 minutes of people finding their rhythm, we headed up stream for our Kayak tour. After many capsized kayaks, lots of splashing and a couple of swaps we had to turn around and head back to the centre, what better way to do this than having a race.

1.61. On returning to the Faramir absolutely exhausted, the Skipper told us that all going to plan we would be leaving Amble at 0400hrs on the high tide. So we got started on dinner which was homemade burgers with the homemade rolls from the day before and hand cut wedges. After dinner most people headed to bed in preparation of the 0300 hrs wake up to get us out of Amble.

1.62. At 0230hrs, SSI Ross was woke up by the crew to have a discussion about what the engineers found in the engine. Unfortunately the damage wasn’t on the inside of the boat, meaning to repair it the boat had to come out the water, meaning our time sailing was finished. We wouldn’t be leaving Amble. This news was disappointing. When the alarms started going off at 0300hrs we shepherded the cadets back to their bunks and told them we would explain in the morning.

1.63. We let the cadets have a small lie in on day 6. The Trust booked us a session paddle boarding today. After Breakfast we received our Cirdan Trust Hoodies that we bought the cadets. This was a good moral boost for the start of the day. The kids were shuttled off to the Paddle Boarding whilst the crew, SSI Ross and 2 cadets stayed behind to have a good clean down of the boat, prepare lunch and move the boat to the side of the harbour. Once lunch was ready we took it out to where the paddle boards were and had a picnic style lunch with a special treat. Irn Bru!!

1.64. After lunch the cadets, 2Lt Robertson and one of the crew decided to walk back to Amble. They were led to believe it was just a short walk round the loch. Turned out to be a 4.7 mile hike. Whilst the cadets were walking, the crew and SSI Ross moved the boat to the side of harbour, next to the wall. The purpose of this was to let the tide go down and expose the base of the boat to allow the engineer to inspect the damage. For this to happen everyone and everything had to be moved to the port side so that when the tide went down, the boat would lean into the wall. This was great as the cadets were exhausted and ended up falling asleep leaning on each other.

1.65. At dinner time we gave the group some good news, the trust were treating us to chippy tea. After almost of week of eating each other’s cooking, this news was warmly received. So once the tide was out and the boat was secured we head off to the local fish and chip café. It was amazing.

1.66. After dinner we had to pack up our stuff and head to the local church hall, which the trust booked for us to sleep in as the boat wasn’t safe to board when rested against the harbour wall. Once we got there we had to complete the voyage evaluation. This was difficult to do as all though we had a lot of fun on the trip and we were kept really busy, we didn’t get the sailing experience we signed up for. Everyone’s comments were fair and considerate. We finished the evening with another game of spoons. The Skipper one.

1.67. Up at 7.30 in the hall. Breakfast was cereal and or toast. The crew came to meet us at the hall to give us the final brief and present the group with their Introduction to Sailing qualification. After that we walked back to the marina to wait for Cap Stuart Grey and the minibus to take us home.

1.68. Once the mini bus arrived we got the kids to form up so we could formally thank the crew one last tie and present them with a gift, a bottle of good Scottish Whisky. Then the kids said their goodbyes. They did this in the form of a massive group hug with the crew. Once on the mini bus, it wasn’t long before the entire group. Adults included had passed out. The classic sign of a good trip.

Preparation
2.1. Preparation for this exercise was limited as there is not a lot of prior training we could give the cadets for this type of trip. The qualification gained on the exercise and the qualification to follow are taught at a basic level so it is better to go into it with no prior training or bad habits.

2.2. From a CFAV perspective the lead up to the event was just like any other activity with cadets. We had to consider safety, governance and safeguarding like we always do. The only additional training we had to do was a food hygiene level 2 qualification.

The Crew

2.3. Ed, Pipper and Alishia were the 3 crew from the Cirdan Trust and they were all absolutely fantastic. They showed nothing but compassion, patience and respect to each one of the cadets and the 2 CFAV on board. Throughout the engine troubles they did their best to keep us busy and entertained. They even pushed to give us the qualification achieved which was hard due to the limited amount of actual sailing time we had.

2.4. Ed was the Skipper of the exercise, the boss basically. The frustrations he had with the engine failure was evident but he never let it show with the cadets or let it hinder any activities. He ensured that we all achieved something every day and kept everyone positive.

2.5. Pipper was the First Mate. Everyday, with only a couple of hours sleep, she was bright and enthusiastic all the time. Fantastic with the cadets and a really patient instructor. Her positive outlook on things definitely rubbed off on the cadets.

2.6. Alishia was the Boatman. She was with the group on every single activity we did. Both on and off the boat. She basically became an honorary cadet. The kids built a strong relationship with her.

2.7. All 3 were very professional in their approach to group. They built a very strong team spirit amongst the cadets. They were very approachable, patient, and considerate and when instructing us on what to do, they showed us everything we needed to see to complete the task.

The exercise

2.8. All though we only had 2 days of actual sailing, the trip was absolutely fantastic. The cadets achieved and gain so much from the experience. Watching them develop over the course of the week was a privilege to behold. Going from no prior sailing experience to sailing the boat without instruction, going from only cooking foods like a pot noodle to preparing and cooking a meal for 18 people on a moving boat. They started as 13 cadets that didn’t know each other to becoming a team that looked out for each other and supported each other. Both with their tasks on board and emotional support to those that were struggling.

2.9. It was interesting to see how certain task brought out the leadership abilities in each cadet. At some point or another every cadet stood up and took control. Whether it was a boat chore, pulling the sails, allocating tasks or sailing the boat, someone took charge and everyone pulled together as a team.

3. Conclusion

3.1. You could see that the cadets had not experienced something like this before and seeing them achieve what they achieved despite the sea sickness, the limited personal space, having to eat what was cooked, having to work with people they probably wouldn’t of chosen to work with, the weather conditions and much more was very humbling and left the CFAV with a sensation of pride.

3.2. The Cirdan Trust are a fantastic company and very effective in what they deliver. They are the perfect partner to the ACF. Their costs are very reasonable and the fact they can subsidy the cost if we fell short removes a lot of the pressure when it comes to fundraising. All though they couldn’t deliver the experience we signed up for, they strove to make sure the cadets and the CFAV enjoyed the trip and made sure we achieved as much as possible. We could not have asked for more from them and hope to work with them again in the future.

3.3. Despite our sailing being cut short, we still achieved the exercise aim. The group all experienced a new and challenging activity, enhanced their individual, team working and leadership abilities through various tasks and we all gained an introduction to sailing qualification.

3.4. The Cirdan Trust have offered our group another week free of charge to make up for the lack of sailing due to the engine issues. This will allow the group to achieve their competent crew qualification and a chance to enhance their skills further.

3.5. Seeing the cadet’s progress on this exercise was undeniable. They grew in so many different ways, their personal skills, resilience, practical ability, team working, leadership, independence and so much more. Not only did they grow, they grew together and that is what the ACF is all about.

4. Afternote

4.1. Belief Beyond Challenge part 2 will take place in October, 19th-25th 2019 from Ipswich in Essex, up the river Colne out towards the North Sea.

4.2. So watch out for part 2!

5. Comments From Cadets

“At first I felt happy we weren’t sailing because I was sick on the first day but then I did want to sail because on day 3 we had lots of wind and it was awesome.”

“I felt ok about not getting to sail because we had loads of other activities that were fun but would rather of done more sailing as I really enjoyed it and looked forward to learning new things.”

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With thanks to:

Ulysses Trust

In partnership with:

RAF Charitable Trust

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