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Challenger 2 ⎻ Army Cadets

By Kate Stewart - August 16th, 2022 | Posted in Voyager blogs No comments

Onboard Challengers 1 and 2 this week, we have two groups from the Army Cadets joining us for an adventure voyage!

Read the blog below to find out what the young people onboard Challenger 2 have been getting up to so far!​

Day 1

Monday 15

We had briefings and a tour before departing on our journey from Portsmouth Harbour to Cowes with good sailing conditions.

To be honest, we had no idea what we were doing at the start, but now we’re starting to learn the ropes (no pun intended!) ?

Food was scrannable (delicious), however, needed more salt, so Sophie (Mate) suggested we should have used sea water instead. ?

We also found that Zane is sound (amazing) at making brews. Must be in his genetics.

Now menu planning, which we need to say our prayers for because JJ is in charge.

While pink (haired) Sophie (Mate) has not currently had a breakdown, we are currently preparing for this eventuality in the coming days due to her having to put up with us all, especially Zane’s sarcasm.

Now, sleep.

Lots of love.

By Sophie and Matt.

Day 2

Tuesday 17

After the novelty of the elevated sleeping wore off, morning came a little too fast for some people’s liking. Port watch started off the day with breakfast duties and while cereal logistics were not a Herculean task, the brews proved to be rather challenging. I don’t think many of us will be considering careers as baristas.

Going above deck was an experience in itself, not only for the change of temperature, but also for the sounds and sights of Cowes in the morning. The weather was a little questionable, but the wet weather gear issued was good, if a little warm. Most of us had cooked before we had even cast off. We set sail not too long after lunch, heading out of port and into the Solent.

As the weather cleared slightly, we had the opportunity to have a go at helming (steering). For most of us, it was the first time we’d experienced this. The amount of responsibility was a little daunting, but the task proved not to be as mammoth as expected. In fact, we got quite comfortable in the position. We thought navigating may prove to be more challenging, but after all, there’s not all that much to hit out at sea.

Next up, we raised the sails. The biggest obstacle was the vocabulary, as, especially for cadets, the terms used were very foreign. It took a little while to accomplish it, but we were allowed to work at our own pace to achieve the goal. It feels like it will get easier as the week goes on and familiarity sets in.

And then we were off, the first proper bout of sailing on the journey underway. However, complacency was not an option. Our next objective was learning to tack – an operation that involved all of us and quite a lot of brain function while we were learning it. The basic premise was not too dissimilar to tacking on a smaller craft, with sails going across the bow when we turned. The main difference was the scale. The weight of the sails and the tension on the sheets meant that we had to use winches to ensure that the sails were taut. The learning curve is steep, but we are definitely ascending. Mostly.

We’ve just finished dinner and are listening to Starboard watch attempt to clean up. Their attempt is nothing if not valiant, but the tea towel whippings have prompted the Mate to threaten a keelhauling. We shall see how that plays out.

By Pheobe  and Ruth.

Day 3

Wednesday 16

Throughout the early hours of the morning, we each took turns on anchor watch (which includes recording the time, co-ordinates and depth, to ensure the boat doesn’t drop or drastically change in position).

When the whole crew was awake, we had a good breakfast, provided by Starboard watch. After this, we carried out deck preparation in order to set sail from Studland Bay to Lymington. ?

Then we had a helpful lesson on collision regulations and markers in the sea, which came into practice later in the day.

After this, we got the Main, Yankee and the Stay sail up, so we were ready to embark on our journey.

During the trip, we did plenty of tacking, particularly around the Needles, where we almost got T-boned by some Americans.

We had a delicious lunch of build your own pasta, which was kindly prepared by Andy and Emma while we were hard at work tacking, which severely affected them using the galley efficiently.

Then we docked at Lymington Marina, a long long time before Challenger 1, due to their clumsy tacking.

After we eventually enjoyed our glorious victory over Challenger 1 and bragged about our superior sailing theory knowledge, we did some deck pack before heading into town to explore some of the local attractions (namely the toy shop for JJ, where he happily spent £55 on some Lego). A big debate then followed over dinner about the value for money).

For dinner, we all enjoyed fish/chicken and lots and lots and lots of chips, while discussing Zane’s wonderful northern accent (we figured he cannot pronounce ‘road’). Interesting stuff.

This evening, we all look forward to playing cards over a brew and watching the sunset, hopefully minus the thunderstorms.

By JJ and Lily.

Day 4

Thursday 17

It’s midnight as we’re starting this, but it doesn’t really feel like it. We’ve just completed two hours’ worth of night navigation and there’s a sense of tired accomplishment pervading the boat.

We started the day as normal: 08:00 breakfast, then washing up and deck prep. It’s surprising how quickly the routine sets in, to the point where when we were told to put the Yankee halyards on the inside, it was automatically questioned; that’s not what we’re used to doing. It all became clear as we tied the Spinnakers.

Today, we were climbing the mast. I have to be honest, I’m not the greatest fan of heights. Or climbing. However, for those who could open their eyes at the whopping 95ft – I am assured it is high enough to reach terminal velocity – the view was stunning. The light tendrils of mist had lifted, burnt off by the sun. By mid-morning, it was sweltering. The time seemed to fly and soon enough we found ourselves lounging, ice creams in hand, enjoying the best of the British weather. But complacency is never an option for too long aboard Challenger 2 and we were motoring out to our anchor point, Osbourne Bay not too long after.

And then came the part that required the brainpower: theory lessons. This time, we were preparing for our upcoming night navigation exercise. At the outset, the prospect was somewhat daunting, but due to thorough prepping from the First Mate, we were soon gaining confidence. We were introduced to a range of instruments, for instance the compass, not a magnetic one, but rather a spiky weapon looking object used to calculate distance. And perhaps fend off pirates. With hopes of swimming in the bay, we started to pump up the onboard dinghy, but unfortunately our plans were thwarted. A howling wind started to play in the rigging and the crystal waters took on a steely hue. Swimming was no longer an option. Instead, we spent a quiet hour relaxing and reflecting on the events of the previous days. Many of us did this through the medium of sleep.

Port watch had the honour of dinner, spag ‘bowl’ as it was on the menu plan. Tasty. It involved a fair amount of slicing and dicing, but the end result was very much worth it; ‘phenomenal’ from Emma, ‘really good’ from Liam, and the First Mate even had seconds, a rare occurrence, or so we’re told.

We set out on our night navigation as the last of the sun’s light faded from the horizon. A sparse, low lying cloud covered the inky sky and the icy breeze of northern winds played in our hair and through the sheets. The sea was a beast, outlined in pewter ridges like the back of a scaled dragon. It hissed and roared around the bow, sending up flames of white water. The navigation itself was simple on the most part, providing that we had made the right calculations from the earlier chart session. The helm was warm from the hands of the crew, and we all sat, quiet and waiting, watching. 17.8 metres of depth moved below our keel and the idea of going overboard had never felt quite so real. Suffice to say, we all clipped on diligently.

On the shore, bright lights swirled in a distracting pattern, around the bright blue spinnaker tower, resplendent on the dockside. We drew closer, the shapes becoming clearer, more defined. The end was near. Docking was a quick affair, first one side, then the other. All around us, boats rocked, safely berthed in Portsmouth, as we were soon to be. Lights coated the water orange and yellow, and the water we had left behind was dusted with carbon, impenetrable darkness swallowing our route.

The deck was packed away with haste fuelled by fatigue. The Mainsail covered, the fenders doubled up and the snake pit tidied. And that brings us to where we are now, surrounded by the electric hum of the computers, bright lights burning into our eyes. Sleep is not far off, and tomorrow, or today really, is something that will be considered later. Hot showers await those who can face the morning.

By Ruth and Josh, very definitely off to bed now.

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