Day 1 (Sunday 8th August)

Skipper and volunteers were up bright and early at Gunwharf Quays to get the boat cleaned and ready for the arrival of the crew at 1000 hours, only to realise while standing waiting in the rain arrival time was 1300 hours. Nevertheless, the extra time allowed the staff to fully prepare for the adventure ahead.

As planned the 8 remaining crew members arrived and were integrated into tall ships life with a boat tour and a full brief of the week ahead.

Gale force winds prevented any sailing unfortunately however it did give an opportunity for the crew to get to know each other while finding their ‘sea legs’.

Day 2 (Monday 9th August)

 Set off time was 0900 hours for the maiden voyage of the new crew as we headed towards Osborne Bay for lunch which was Cornish Pasties (Cheese and Onion) and beans. After lunch we headed towards Beaulieu River and experienced our first dose of choppy waters but the crew pulled together and made it to the destination in the afternoon leaving time to use the dingy round Beaulieu River and use the ‘exceptional’ marine facilities.

Day 3 (Tuesday 10th August)

Because of the low tide timings, day 3 started off with a more relaxed morning giving an opportunity to use the ‘outstanding’ marine facilities once again, at Beaulieu River.

In the soaring heat the crew applied their sun-cream and set sail at 1000 hours looking to head to Chichester. Lunch was served en route - Pesto Pasta received high reviews.

On arrival at Chichester, it was decided that the port was too full to hold the mighty Ketch, so we changed direction to the Isle of Wight, as Skipper Jim reminded us of the famous Mike Tyson quote ‘Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face’.

After more navigation and steering from the crew we anchored at the Isle of Wight and enjoyed the glorious weather before then heading back to Portsmouth where we enjoyed a classic meal - Bangers and Mash!

Day 4 (Wednesday 11th August)

Wednesday began with a fuel-stop at Gunwharf Quays, the crew found it interesting how much this resembled refilling at a car fuel station. We worked as a team to swing the boat in and attach it to the platform. 

With a full tank of fuel and a heavy dose of wind we sailed the Ketch to New Town Creek where we anchored to enjoy lunch in the sunshine. DIY sandwiches included: Ham and Cheese / Just Cheese / Ham, Cheese and Ready Salted Crisps with Salad Cream and BBQ sauce. Conversation turned to the looming GCSE results day as three crew members anxiously awaited their results.

After lunch, with the crew each taking turns to both navigate and steer the boat, we headed towards Lymington where we moored alongside Challenger 3 and met another young novice crew enjoying their own adventure on the South Coast.

In the afternoon, we explored the town of Lymington, and we were on a search to find an ice cream shop as quickly as possible as the clock slowly moved towards 5pm (I’m glad to report everyone was successful). Later on, we enjoyed the calm harbour atmosphere and dug into an Italian cuisine… Spag Bol! Lights out at 2200.

Day 5 (Thursday 12th August)

Lymington harbour’s open water swimming pool offered a ‘refreshing’ start to Thursday, as we realised swimsuits were maybe the best option for sea water swimming, however this epiphany came after entering the cold water in trunks and swimming costumes.

The morning swim, although cold, gave us an opportunity to use the highly rated marine facilities which did not disappoint, and some crew members believe they have pipped Beaulieu River’s too top spot.

After watching and admiring Challenger 3’s crew climb the 95ft mast we waved farewell to both them and Lymington Harbour as we set sail to Hurst Castle Bay (West of Lymington). Upon arrival the good weather made the dingy look a great option to get us ashore and explore the local castle. However, in hindsight vice-captain Julian did not agree. After a successful trip of five crew members, Julian headed back towards the Ketch on the dingy. However, with the engine spluttering, he was left to frantically paddle against the tide towards the boat. He managed and welcomed five more nervous travellers hoping to get ashore.

Once ashore, we explored the outside of Hurst Castle and some of the crew enjoyed iced coffees while watching Spitfires fly overhead. Then, it was time to head back onto the dreaded dingy to the Ketch, which was made easier by a tow from a family in a small speed boat.

After an eventful day we anchored at Hurst Castle Bay and concluded it with Chilli Con Carne and a cheers to three excellent sets of GCSE results.

Day 6 (Friday 13th August)

After a bet the night before, the final full day on the Ketch began with a revelation that crew member Gemma would attempt to not speak for a whole day. Using sign language, she let us know that she had successfully done this for a whole week once which made the crew even more determined to make her break.

With wind levels high, we used all off the main sails at once for the first time of the week which required good teamwork and therefore an end to Gemma’s mission as we gybed the sails side-to-side with the wind.

After a successful gybing session, we moored up in Cowes for lunch and used an eye-wateringly expensive water taxi to get ashore, where as a crew we explored the seaport town and had some lunch.

Once back on the Ketch we headed to Osborne Bay to plan our final mini adventure, along the way, making friends with waving ferry users. Anchored at Osborne Bay, we dug into our final supper which was meatballs. Then we planned and prepared for the looming night sail.

This included the navigation planning and a brief from the skipper on how to keep safe in night conditions. Using lights from buoys and cardinals, we safely manoeuvred the Ketch across the Solent and made it into Gunwharf Quays Marina at 2330 hours under darkness, after seeing both the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary cruise ships along the way.

As we headed to bed, we talked about the different obstacles we had to deal with when sailing in the dark, the main one being distances to lights being difficult to gauge and also, the darkness!

With these new skills, we had our final sleep on the Ketch before being released back into society at 1000 hours the next day. This brought a level of sadness to the crew; however, all good things must come to an end. ☹