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Challenger 2 – Youth Action Wiltshire – XF240402

By Tall Ships - April 5th, 2024 | Posted in Voyager blogs No comments

Youth Action Wiltshire embarks on a voyage with us twice a year, all thanks to The Hugo Halkes Charitable Trust. This collaboration has enabled more than 100 young people to participate in this life-changing experience. They are back to kick off the Easter Holidays with a 5-night voyage. Follow their journey below. 

Day 1

Tuesday 2 April

We all had to get on the mini bus at 10am in Devizes. We were all quite tired on the bus so most of us slept on the way down as it seemed to take ages to get to Portsmouth.

When we got here we had a walk through Gunwharf quays carrying all our bags to get to the boat. Once on board we had our introduction with Rob and Tess (our watch leaders). We got put into our two watches, port and starboard. We then had a tour of the boat, learning how to use the heads, where the fire extinguishers are and then started unpacking our stuff.

Amy (skipper) and Giles (mate) then helped us get into our foul weather clothes (as it was supposed to rain) and showed us how to put on our life jackets. Which was quite hard to do, but we all managed it in the end. We then left Gunwharf just as it was starting to rain and it got wetter and colder the further we got towards Warsash (where we are going to stay tonight). But to warm us up Amy made us posh hot chocolates with milk warmed on the hob, we very much approved of. Once we neared Warsash we put all the lines and fenders out, learning how to tie a few new knots. I was on the midships winch, so once we had got nearby Lucas passed Giles the line and then l had to pull it in and use the winch to tie us onto the pontoon. Once we parked the boat, Port watch started cooking dinner while Starboard watch were still outside getting wet putting the boat to bed which meant putting the two sails back in their bags and corporate stowing them.

Port watch cooked some lovely fajitas for dinner, with onions, peppers, salad, lots of cheese and lots of different sauces. Starboard watch then had to clean up all of our mess from cooking and then we had a game of consequences and these are our favourites.

Once upon a time Olly met Jack the Ripper in a cornfield, they said “Harry Potter is dead, he he he” he replied “l am a real boy” due to a lack of water and air they withered away until only dust remained that blew away in the wind.

Once upon a time the lion met Lady Gaga at a cemetery she said “oh what a lovely bunch of bananas you have” she said “thanks, you are ugly” in the end all the boys and girls sailed away never to be seen again.

Once upon a time Sid the sloth met SpongeBob at a beach house they said “Are you Jesus reincarnated?” he replied “l watch you sleep” in the end he said “adios”

Once open a time Hitler met an Instagram influencer, at Big Ben. He said “l’ve been a bad guy, l’ve done some bad things”, she replied “si”. In the end they bought a campervan, rehomed 7 cats a turtle and 2 llamas and travelled around Peru selling bobsleighs from the back of their van.

Day 2

Wednesday 3 April

We all got up early up quite early and managed to find some clothes to cook breakfast in as Sharon wouldn’t allow us to wear our pajamas in the galley. But we cooked five whole packets of bacon so everyone had a big breakfast. Port watch then tidied up, but starboard watch hadn’t made much mess.

We then all got into our foul weather gear as it had been raining all night and was still raining this morning. We left Warsash but the tide was against us pushing us back onto the pontoon so it took a while to get out. Once we were out in the Solent we started putting up the sails and we all had to work together to get the main sail up, then starboard watch put the yankee 3 up, but one of the ropes needed has been untied so we had to take it down and then put it back up again.

Once we had the sails up we were heading towards the western end of the Isle of Wight learning how to tack the boat through the crashing waves, there was a lot of shouting commands, pulling in lines on the winches, then letting lines go on the other winches, then they swapped over again. Sailing is very tiring. Once we had all got very wet and a couple of us felt seasick from the waves we turned back to Cowes and gybed the boat back to Osbourne bag, this was much smoother and we all relaxed a bit.

In Osbourne Bay, we took the sails down and did a man overboard drill with the danbuoy. We saved Kenny! We then motored into Cowes and moored up. As we were all a bit cold and wet Port Watch went below to start cooking a late lunch, while Starboard started putting the sails away, sorting out lines and sail covers. Once we were done we were relieved to get warm and dry in the saloon with hot dogs.

As we had arrived into Cowes earlier than planned we had some free time in town and bought lots of sweets and chocolate in Sainsburys – Sharon had to confiscate some of it as we had bought too much.

While Starboard made a very tasty Thai chicken stir fry meal, but also a lot of mess in the galley Port Watch had some lovely warm showers. But while we were cleaning up after them they got to have showers too.

Then it was time for the biannual spoons tournament – Youth Action Wiltshire versus Tall Ships. It should have been an easy win with 12 people playing for YAW and 3 playing for Tall Ships, but it was very tense when it got down to Rachel, Tess and Rob. In the end, Tess was the quickest and unfortunately, the spoon gets to spend the next 6 months in Portsmouth.

In the boat, Cluedo game Riley killed Rob in the wet locker with a torch and Rachel killed Amz in the main cockpit with a sail tie. The game continues….

Day 3

Thursday 4 April

Today is Blake’s 16th birthday and the skipper and mate had decorated the saloon with banners, streamers and balloons to make sure he couldn’t forget it. But before wake up call he was up and everyone had sung him happy birthday. We then had an epic birthday breakfast – a full English including bacon, sausage, hash brown, scrambled eggs and beans, which was devoured very quickly.

Once we had cleaned up and got ourselves ready we walked through town to the chain ferry and went across to East Cowes to the RNLI factory where we had a tour from Mike. They make and repair all the inshore lifeboats there including the B class Atlantic, D class and inshore rescue boats.

We started our tour in the upstairs workshops where they make the B class and the boat moves through various bays starting with moulding the hull and ending with the final electrics and outboard engines being fitted. We then went downstairs and met the longest-serving employee who had been there 42 years. She used to cut out the rubber material patterns for the boats by hand, but they have moved to a fancy machine that’s able to cut and etch them in a fraction of the time. Next was the machine shop with all the outboard motors lined up ready to be put in the new boats. They even had a whole store of spare boats, so if a station has a breakdown they can send out a replacement while they fix their normal boat. All the boats are named after people who have either donated money to the charity or their loved ones. We liked the “Never Fear, Baggy’s here” one the best.

After the tour finished we got the chain ferry back to West Cowes where our boat is and we were just in time for the buffet that Amz had laid out for us, she had even put the rolls in the oven to cook so they were lovely and warm for us.

We then walked to the lifeboat station in West Cowes but as we were early we had fun skimming stones into the sea and seeing how many skips they could do before they sunk, the best was Olly and Josh who managed 4 skips. Blake just enjoyed seeing how far he could throw them into the sea, which was actually quite far. The lifeboat crew showed us their Atlantic class B boat, their dry suits, helmets and lifejackets that they use on rescues and showed us some videos too.

Blake managed to get a free ice cream because it was his birthday from a local shop on the way back to the boat for some man over board drills. Everyone had a go at being either the casualty or the rescuer and we tried out a variety of different ways to get them back on the boat (from the pontoon, not the water, no one went for a swim!)

Port watch cooked dinner (except Blake as he was given a break as it was his birthday) and starboard cleaned up, it’s becoming like a well-oiled machine and the adults didn’t need to help with cooking or tidying up. We then embarrassed Blake some more by singing happy birthday to him with some birthday brownies, which were very tasty.

After dinner we learnt about the engine, how it works and what to check for each time we use it. We the got to know the charts we have been using the get about the Solent and we practiced tying several knots. With all this fun we had a late night and have just don’t to bed at 11pm. Tomorrows early start is going to be hard.

In the ongoing game of boat Cluedo Honey was killed by Blake with a toilet roll in the snake pit, Giles was murdered by Lucas with a VHF radio in the sail locker and Rachel murdered Tess with a fender in the saloon.

Day 4

Friday 5 April

After the late night we had yesterday we struggled to wake up, but when we did we were cooked amazing pancakes by Josh. We then covered them with lots of chocolate and other toppings so they were very sweet.

After clearing up we started to get the boat ready for the day, getting the yankee and stay sails out their bags, running lines and moving fenders. We then all got into our wet weather gear, not because it was supposed to rain but it was supposed to be really windy. We left Cowes and headed towards Portsmouth and on the way we put up the yankee sail and practiced tacking the boat. We even had a competition to see which watch could do it quicker.

Amz then set us a mind bending puzzle where we had to escape rope handcuffs in pairs. Only one team managed to escape! Once we got back to Portsmouth we parked in-between Challenger 1 and the Ketch and as the wind was really fierce we had to use the winches to winch ourselves back to the pontoon.

During the afternoon we had a bake off competition making choc chip cookies and were divided into three teams (“The Best”, “The Pirates” and “Don’t Know”) and had to make 6 cookies which would be judged by our special guest later in the day. We had a rowing competition in the dingy around the marina and in pairs we competed against each other – the Superb Strawberries (Lucas and Sapphire) won the race in 1:21, closely followed by the Terrific Tangerines (Josh and Sarah) 1:26 and in third was the Amazing Apricots (Olly and Brook) in 1:30. We didn’t get to choose our team names Rachel did and she likes fruit!

Several of us had a very long game of Uno Flip and at one point Brook had to pick up 20 cards as everyone put down +5 cards in a stack!

We then set about cooking our last evening meal on the boat and it was a banger, especially as it was bangers and mash! The potatoes took forever to boil, but they got there eventually and we had some amazing mash made by Lucas and Josh, very smooth and tasty. We then had our cookies from the competition earlier judged by Anna and our two watch leaders (Tess and Rob), they were unanimous that “The Best” was in fact the best cookies so they were crowned the winners.

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