Day 1 (19/07)

Today was the first day of our Tall Ships Youth Trust trip. Challenger 4, our home for the next six days and during which we will learn a number of new skills and experiences. To begin with, we started with learning what everyone hopes to gain from this trip and the instructors were all open and friendly while the crew introduced themselves to us.

After departing from the quay, they immediately began teaching us basic things to do on the yacht. This included shouting what you are doing at all times, teaching us how the winches work (three times round, through the teeth, tighten with winch handle and finally a fourth safety turn).

Additionally, we were shown key skills like the names and roles of each section of the yacht. This continued throughout the day, not once losing my enjoyment or engagement as we raised sails taking turns to be 'spikers', 'sweaters', 'tailers' etc. As we went into the late afternoon and neared our destination of Yarmouth, we then later lowered the sails, again enjoyable the entire way, and finally, just before we came into port, we were taught the various ways to sail in downwind, upwind and the naming of the different parts of the sail.

I really enjoyed today and although, based on this first day, I would thoroughly recommend this trip to anyone who wants 'an out-of-this world experience'. Finally, I hope I can gain a lot from this week because based on the rest of the itinerary, I can tell this will be a fantastic week.

 

Day 2 (20/07)

After waking up in Yarmouth at an obscenely early hour, we dragged ourselves to the breakfast table, for a quick bite of toast and cereal. With renewed energy, we left the harbour at 9am, and headed out to sea.

Here, we learned how to raise the main sail and head sail, we were taught to tack and jibe. After dropping anchor in Studland Bay we were able to cool off in the sea after a long day of sweaty work, with Miss Bench beating Mr Armitage by miles in a race. Dinner was extremely scrumptious…because we had the best team cooking the food!! 😁

Day 3 (21/07)

A better night's sleep than last (albeit with snoring) left us all refreshed, waking up to a serenely rocking boat after being anchored at Studland Bay. After a quick dip and firing the engine we left Old Harry and 'his wife' and made way to Weymouth.

On the way tragedy struck, Bobby the bobbing buoy was thrown overboard (twice) and the crew practised MOB (man overboard) procedures to rescue Bobby the bobbing buoy’s stranded soul. Having successfully saved Bobby, we hoisted the spinnaker and began clambering up rope to experience a pleasant view from atop the mast. Arriving into Weymouth harbour we were able to walk around the picturesque town as well as experience the blissful feel of hot, warm sand on our feet. Although, walking for 10 minutes around the backroads of this town, we neglected to find a suitable shop to purchase the most important product Weymouth produces….ice cream.

The low morale from the ice cream fiasco left us debating the merits of this town, this was quickly averted; the waft of fish and chips, much to ours and the seagulls' delight, found its way to our eager nostrils. Despite the crew buying a glut of chips, Jack found a way to finish what the crew started and finished, eating them all.

 

Day 4 (22/07)

Today was scandalous #BiscuitGate. Jack and Monty deceptively ate their way through the divine jet black Oreos, absolutely wondrous digestives, even some cheeky custard creams. You now may be wondering, how we knew it was the mischievous duo, Jack and Monty? Simple answer; crumby mouth. On their sunburnt lips was remnants of a delectable digestive. Tomfoolery at its finest!

The team thoroughly disappointed, decided to have a gentle swim in the crystal clear water, like the reflection of Poseidon’s Iris, infused with green, edible seaweed. This is when a certain predicament arose.

To swim with safety parallel to JF’s Coffee making ability (he who made a caffe di terre once around four years ago), we needed a dingy on the bustling seas. Lucas, after a few stern words, was tasked with the simple job of starting the engine. After the boat nearly became the Titanic, Lucas simply was defeated like Sisyphus pushing his rock, it wasn’t meant to be. After Jim consulted unknown territory in the majestic lands of YouTube, we finally started the boat. Setting out to the beach, morale was further destroyed by a loud bloke with a megaphone, but he did have a hi-viz on, screamed with pure hatred, ‘NO! DO NOT LAND ON THE BEACH’.

The crew was left with jumping off the boat. Again, more disaster for Lucas on the tender, having drifted 50 metres from the vessel, only for the engine to give up the will to live. Lucas knew it was life or death. Frantically reaching for the oar, with every ounce of adrenaline, slowly meandered back to the yacht. Exhausted, dinner was needed, but unfortunately it was not to be 'Pie Sandwhich' (a rare delicacy found in the North of England, where a pie is cushioned by two slices of bread topped with gravy [despised by all below Coventry].

However, the tale turns, as Chef Maestro Jack went through metamorphosis as he entered the kitchen. What was once a 17-year-old boy instantly became a Michelin-stared obese bald Italian man in his prime. The tenacity needed to turn big H’s mushrooms, radio Ross’ onions, and Adam’s mouldy carrots into a gourmet spag bol rivalling the cuisine of Julius Caesar using only his other-worldly palette, a dodgy spatula and pure passion.

However, his biggest challenge was yet to come: May and #PastaGate. This rivals the toilet kidney beans of night one. May suspiciously dropped all the pasta along the floor (numbers of packets unknown). The response was on par with Murdoch’s cover ups. The entire crew would be subject to #TaintedPenne, all apart from the lone survivor, gluten-free Armitage. What a lucky man! The crew would remain unbeknownst to a clear violation of the five second rule, if it was not for the brave writers of this exposé.

Tonight, after much toil and trouble of the dubious day, we anchor off the Isle of Wight. Sleeping nervously, as we spend another night trying to find out who the sole snorer is. Is it Lucas? Is it Josh? Or is it May? Find out in the next instalment, as the inquisition will carry on. Although, we don’t know who the snorer is, one thing is for certain: Josh will be up at 5am.

Day 5 (23/07)

Today began with Josh not waking everybody up at 5am, instead nervously hiding in his bunk until team Lima gave the go ahead for him to timidly crawl out his bunk at 0650.

Then came breakfast, Jack set the mood with his typical catatonic state on the saloon like a ticking time bomb. This was quickly changed with the first scent of animal meat on this vessel, which apart from Yas, everybody had missed. A breakfast of Spanish omelettes and chorizo set an Iberian tone onboard, and onto Yarmouth we went.

 Approaching Yarmouth, the waves grew, which Lucas evidently couldn’t handle in his three attempts to cast a mooring line. A frustrated Sophie (the ship's Mate), gave the role to Jack (who did it first time) who with the least amount of effort meekly pushed the line to Sophie like a toddler playing catch with his dad.

An hour and a half in Yarmouth was spent on showers, a walk to the pier, an over-priced coffee and a walk to the (edible) seaweed infested beach. As we returned, one thing was missing, the teachers, who as they boarded the boat, were suspiciously giggling and some tension was there.

Leaving Yarmouth, we hoisted the main sails and proceeded to move an impressive 300m during the following four hours. The constant toing and froing of the ship as we tacked this way and that, left the below deck regions reeling, and covered in grotty washing up juice. Miraculously, Lucas somehow managed to rally a decent meal of soup, with a side of bread and cheese. 

Now onto the big guns on board…

Haiwei revealed to the crew his true state as his namesake (sea gravy), singing an emotional albeit very quiet Country Roads with the essence of the angel Gabriel. Let' just say many tissues were handed out among the crew with the serenading music. Although, his second Chinese song from TikTok livened up the crew after the depression of Yarmouth. Among the constant tacking, JF was still in KGB interrogation mode for coffee that he had been given last night, paranoid as usual.

All hell broke loose in the kitchen with the discovery of the dodgy supplies after this long voyage, however, Sophie assured us (apart from Jack) that the food was OK, despite large black patches and bendy carrots. While Jack complained like the toddler he was, Sophie quickly reassigned the crew and forced the once comfortable and warm Jack and Monty to the top. 

With better shore facilities and a delicious stew, we lay down for the final night in Portsmouth to await the final day tomorrow.