Day 1 (Monday 23rd) - by Abbey Mumford and Ella Spain

We met at the boat at 12PM. After taking our COVID tests, we were able to come aboard and leave Portsmouth heading west through the needles. With little wind, we put the main sail and yankee up, whilst still motoring with the plan of sailing through the night to reach Salcombe by midday. Each watch did 3-hour shifts with our highlights being the sunset over Portland and the bright moon and stars!

Day 2 (Tuesday 24th) - by Abbey Mumford and Ella Spain

The sun rose with dolphins appearing to wake everyone up. We started the day with bacon sandwiches and a lot more wind so we got to experience the boat rolling over the waves and gybing. Before entering the bay we completed some man overboard drills with our bouy Bob, and lowered all the sails to ensure safe entry into Salcombe. In Salcombe we took the water taxi ashore where we explored the scenery and ice cream shops. Finishing the day we cooked a tasty minestrone soup which everyone enjoyed.

Day 3 (Wednesday 25th) - by Miles Vidler and Maria Townsend 

On Wednesday, we started our morning with a bowl of porridge and then left Salcombe harbour heading east towards Portland. On the way to Portland, we saw our fellow dolphins once again jumping in and out of the high waves, with bow crashing in to the waves and creating spray. Some of us on this trip were unfortunately struggling to keep the porridge down / were experiencing sea sickness. After a few hours the wind and waves started to die down and we had to use the engine to keep on track to reach Portland at 10PM, where we anchored in Weymouth bay overnight.

Day 4 (Thursday 26th) - by Miles Vidler and Maria Townsend 

After 8 hours of sleep we had scrambled egg and muffins and then sailed along the Jurassic Coast until lunch where we dropped the Staysail and Yankee and stopped in a bay to have pasties and salad. After this, we headed downwind to attempt to fly the spinnaker. While flying the spinnaker the wind direction shifted by 180 degrees which forced us to drop the spinnaker. Once we had out fun with the spinnaker we made our way back down the Jurassic Coast towards Weymouth harbour. That evening we made fish and chips as a team. 

Day 5 (Friday 27th) - by Emily Castle

Our final day of sailing and we were heading back towards Portsmouth, a long day was on the cards and everyone was up, albeit rather reluctantly at 0630AM. A beautifully sunny and warm morning as we left Weymouth harbour and in more promising news there looked to be some wind. Leaving the harbour was quite relaxed as the group was discussing an incident with a broom the previous evening. Then it was all hands on deck to hoist the sails. Then to really set up a good day, as we were hoisting the main, twice I may add, everyone’s legs and arms were shaking we were joined by some pilot whales who were happily playing alongside the boat. Breakfast of crumpets was made under sail as we were in a race against the tide at St Catherines Point.

With more responsibility for the boat today the group certainly put into practice what they had been learning over the week and it was clear that the team was really starting to gel. As sails went up in record time and everyone was more confident on the helm. Making impressively good time but rapidly losing the wind we had to put the motor on to make it round St Catherines point. Then the wind really did desert us so we dropped the yankee sail which the group then used as a sofa as we motored up the side of the Isle of Wight. Others spent time practicing knot skills trying to see who could tie them one handed or behind their backs.

Though the wind had long since left us, the sun came out and we had beautiful blue skies, while the Isle of Wight continued on and on some of the young people stated that they were in fact getting bored of looking at it just as we entered the channel and the wind appeared! Putting their found camaraderie and teamwork into practice we hoisted the sails to sail to our anchorage for the evening, whilst discussing the advantages and disadvantages of staying in the Solent fort hotels – we weren’t sure either way but the presence of a hot tub was certainly a plus. 

Anchoring for our final night the team set out together to pack up the boat, our last night on Challenger 2. An evening filled with laughter and games.

From the NSSA it’s been a fantastic week as an award for the young people who have given so much to their counties and what a way for them to develop new skills and apply their sailing knowledge in a new setting.

There we were waiting,
nervously, greeting people as they came,
The boat awaiting, larger than we were used to.
Onboard we went, quickly becoming familiar with new terms
Old terms known as we left into a new world.
24 hours we were going for, barely a word spoken,
The night went on before the dawn was hailed by dolphins playing along the boat.
Anchoring in Salcombe, ice cream on the harbour, a wander through the shops.
Again we were off leaving towards Weymouth,
Fond memories of regattas past and Olympic races.
Not as calm as the journey down, our turn to play with the waves,
we crashed through, water flowing, the dolphins playing,
a few of the crew succumbed before we came to rest in Weymouth bay
Anchored in the dark, but more together than before
Dinosaurs for the day, calmer again up the Jurassic coast and through the firing range.
Back to Weymouth then in the harbour this time.
Fish and chips and dinner, how could you not and a chance for a shower.
Brooms were used for cleaning and for tripping.

An early start the week comes to an end.
Back towards Portsmouth we go a long sail
started by some pilot whales
More together than before, knowing more the day passed far too fast
as we came up to the Isle of Wight the coast line going on and the wind failing.
The nervousness long left behind.
Chilling on the bow in the sun watching as Portsmouth comes into sight.
packing away the boat having learnt a lot the night finishes with games
We will all leave lifelong friends cemented by our voyage on challenger 2
A challenge but so much we’ll all come again