Challenger 3 – HSBC Portsmouth to London

By Tall Ships - October 9th, 2018 | Posted in Voyager blogs No comments

Day One

Today, we met everyone from the four different schools that have come on this trip with us. We were split into groups, to which we were quiet at first but we came out of our shells and started talking to people more. We got a tour around the tall ship (above) and also below where we are staying for our 10 day journey. After that, we went on a walk to the beach and explored the area surrounding the beach, we then got back to our ships and then had Chicken Fajitas for dinner, and then we settled in after the meal. We also started playing UNO.

By Jacob, Pearl

Day Two

HSBC Leader

9am In Le Havre.

Morning everyone. As I type this everyone else on my watch is cleaning!!!! Great excuse. What have I learnt about sailing so far…its great you drink lots of tea and eat biscuits!!!! What a life. The kids love it as they just sleep….but that will change I’m sure!!!

This is my first blog on this amazing adventure. It began in Portsmouth where were informed which boats we were on, and whom we were with. I was on challenger 3 skippered by Paul with Lindsey his deputy. These are the people to creep around as they are in charge!!! J Then the look around the boat. Very daunting, and information overload!!!! For anyone who knows me learning people’s names is hard enough…I still can’t remember everyone’s now, however now I need to learn boat terminology and the ropes (lol) of running the ship. I do know it’s not a map…it’s a chart!!! I room with Alex from Great Yarmouth, the loudest snorer ever (as I’ve just found out).

Tuesday began very early with a sail estimated at 12 hours….which took 16!!  That was down to lack of wind, not the kids or my driving!!! It was sunny and not raining so we were all bright and cheery. The children were generally excited. Everyone began bright and cheerful and we were given our watches. By lunchtime watches were abandoned for the day…half the children were sick L or asleep. However for those still awake or around, it gave us an opportunity to learn how to drive the boat, and help highering and lowering the sails and for me to learn my knot skills ( I promise by the end I will still knot be able to tie ropes). We also saw great views in the day…well just the blue sea, and the other odd boat. Very relaxing. Those few still alive sang songs (well I did), played games such as the name game and two truths and a lie (which I introduced). I’ve never seen so many people sleep so much and for so long, in the most bizarre places…well anywhere on the boat, upstairs or down. The best thing was the sun setting and looking at the stars. Also most of the children were awake now so it someone different to speak to!! They appreciated the sunset too.  The kids have already figured me out….I get volunteered for everything they don’t want to do…usually the washing up. Also I got chosen to climb the sail with no harness, in the dark, while sailing, which was daunting but had to be done.

Anyway we arrived and were totally shattered after packing everything away. Even the skipper looked tired. Ffion, one of the children, was still smiling though…well shes never stopped smiling since we got here. I hope it doesn’t change.

Bacon butties for breakfast today, and looking forward to meeting everyone on the other boats and learning what they’ve been doing.

Anyway bye for now. The cleanings done (hurray!!!) so off to catch some fresh area. Look out for blog 2, which I’ll write whenever I get the opportunity!!! J

PS It was Graces birthday yesterday and Jacobs today so lots of cake!!! Yummy J


Day Three

Today we sailed to France after putting the main sail up and leaving at 7 o clock. We arrived at 11pm we had to put the sail down to help us park. Along the way we saw all sorts of things lots of massive cruise ships before we left we even saw a seal, I think it was trying to play hide and seek with us because as soon as we saw it, it dived down in the water (it was probably because a seagull nearly stood on its head but let’s just go with it.) it took us 16 hours to get here but it’s all good because we got to sleep on the boat so we could actually make it. We played lots of games like: the name game, insult game, compliment game (we weren’t very good at this and gave up after one round) and two truths and one lie. One person made friends with all the snakes in the snake pit (also known as ropes, there are a lot of them). Half of us were feeling horrible, one tried to feed the fish but missed the sea and hit the deck instead. Luckily we had a birthday on the boat so we got to eat cake after dinner.

Chloe, Grace, Ffion, Connor and Sajid

Day Four

Thanks to Jacob we got woken up by his alarm at 5.00 am which led to a tired crew. In the morning we climbed the mast it was very high and when a massive boat went past it wobbled but we were harnessed in so we couldn’t fall, Lindsey decided to have a bit of fun with tom because she left him at the top then she told all of the crew that were helping out to go down to one turn and lower him down and then when he got close she moved him over to the water so his shoes were touching it. Tom was trying to be cool and wearing his short trousers (you had to unzip them to make them in to shorts.) Jacob left us all in stiches for about an hour with his laugh because he was basically howling. After we went to the showers we were allowed to walk around Le Havre. Pauls watch cooked dinner while the other watch learnt how to tie knots. After dinner was done, Johns watch started to clean up the mess left over from dinner and that was when Jacob laughed again after staring at the bins and STILL putting the leftover garlic bread in the post-box hole where the bin was not situated.

Chloe, Grace, Ffion, Connor and Sajid

Day Five

Yesterday, we got up at 7 am and set off on a boat trip to Dieppe, which is a little further up the coast from Le Havre. We got the sails up, and had lessons about different types of the sail. Challenger 4 got stuck in the mud, which set us back about an hour… We finally left afterwards and it took us about 10 hours to arrive in Dieppe. This time, no one got sick (apart from Pearl). The weather was really good without a cloud in the sky and it was quite warm as well. During our journey, we had a game on the poles where we had to climb the pole which was extended over the sea (but we wouldn’t fall in because we were attached to the harness). After this, we had some food which was some sort of pasta and Tom couldn’t stop singing (or it was a cat, either way it was horrible). Once we were closer to the shore (of Dieppe), we started to take the sails down. When we arrived in Dieppe, we got released from the enclosed ship of hell into the city of Dieppe for an hour and a half. Once this was all finished, we made curry – which once again made Tom or that damn cat start singing again to the songs that were playing… Then afterwards we went into the saloon and played a game of UNO… now, no one knows how – but the game caused mass hysterics amongst everyone, especially Tom, Ffion and Jacob. At 10:10pm we went to bed and slept til the morning…

To be continued……………………

Jacob, Tenzing, Pearl, William and Ruben

Day Six

HSBC Leader

Bonjour everyone!!! I’m back!!! J – ‘A floppy sail is an unhappy sail’

Wow!!! So much to write about where do I start??? Well everyone has settled into a sailor’s life very well. We are all getting used to the boat, and finding our way around much more easily. One thing I would say, well the kids of today, they are so talented, and they can all use their phones while doing their sailing jobs…unbelievable!!!!

Well what have with we been up to since yesterday morning. We spent all yesterday in Le Havre. It started with everyone whom wanted to take part climbing the 95ft mast. So impressive. 6 out of the 10 children on my boat climbed it to the top, and two who told me they were never doing it after a little persuasion had a go and got about of the third of the way up. So proud. Then MY TURN…couldn’t chicken out now. I’d never here the end of it. So up I went, right to the very top, then Lindsey who was on the rope went for a brew and left me there for a few minutes. It was windy, however a great view. Then the fun started for everyone…but I wasn’t aware. With guys watching from more than 2 boats they lowered me down,….except kept going downwards, dangling me over the side, my feet touching the water, right to everyone’s amusement…why always me!!!

Then onto Le Havre for a walkabout, and stretch out legs. You could tell the way to McDonalds, just follow the 40 kids from England!!!

The evening brought the greatest laughter ever. No idea how it ever began however Jacob starts laughing, Connor laughs, I break out laughing…then everyone. Tears flowed it was so, so, so, funny….and loud. We were sat in the saloon and we were heard on other boats. Thinking about it now makes me smile.

Over to today. A 60 mile journey to Dieppe….at about 8 knots. Early start at 7.30am, then the boat that wanted to leave first, Challenger 4, decided that we should all stay a bit longer to sample the more of the delights of Le Havre. We could all have had an extra lie in!!! Then a gentle journey with little wind. Everyone was much more lively and active than last time. The seasickness had died down. Learnt so many of the skills involved. Plenty more biscuits, and even flapjacks came out today. Everyone took part on pole climbing, backwards out over the sea. This passed the time well, and encouragement from everyone was great to witness.

After an 8 hourish journey we arrived in Dieppe. It appears to be a much better town than Le Havre. The kids have met their friends and are in full spirits, which is wonderful to see. Amazing weather here. So hot and sunnyJ.

Anyway what else have we done, lots of knot tying (still can’t do them) karaoke curry cooking, joke telling competition (in my element), and me trying to get the gossip.

Right that’s enough from me. Got to go now as Sajid wants to play UNO. Hope everyone back home is well, and speak to you soon, Bye

PS Apparently I’m loud????


Day Seven

This morning we got the dinghies out for a dinghy race. Winners got to have showers first. Of course we didn’t win but we also didn’t come last. We came 3rd which for us isn’t too bad because apparently we always come last. After this we went to the beach but it was very cold so we decided to go into town instead a couple of us bought a pastry from this nice little bakery (they are very delicious). We were in town for like 3 hours but the thing is that it isn’t that big so we looked around it in about an hour then we had nothing to do, but then came along skipper and told us that there was a tacky souvenir competition so we then had to look for a souvenir. I won’t tell you what it is at the moment because it is a surprise for all the other boats and they might read this somehow. While we were cooking dinner there were more people playing UNO because I’m pretty sure that is everyone’s favourite game now.

Chloe, Grace & Ffion

Day Eight

It was a wavy and rocky start… at 7:00am we were promptly woke up by none other than the fun sponge named Lindsey. For the first time today we sailed on the way to Boulogne-Sur-Mer, and we were actually first out of Dieppe and first arriving into Boulogne (which is a surprise for challenger 3). Surprisingly, we were lucky enough to be the ONLY boat to see DOLPHINS! Everyone was excited to see dolphins, we forgot about the sail. Tom is still making ‘jokes’ which are ‘funny’ to listen to, especially his cheese jokes, which are funnily enough, very cheesy. When we docked in Boulogne, everyone stared at us and looked very interested in the whole docking process of our yachts.

Jacob, Pearl, Tenzing, William & Ruben

Fun sponge is a saying taught to the crew by myself, which the crew now love saying. Although they clearly hate being woken up in the morning (any time before 9 seems like a punishment for them) and they take an age in doing anything. Lindsey (Mate on Challenger 3)

Day Nine

HSBC Leader

At last wind….and its not from the curry’

Hi everyone, hope you’re not missing me too much. I will begin by mentioning Ive had no internet connection while in France, so hi to Helen and the kids, Im missing you loads and look forward tp sharing my amazing experiences with you.

This is a very difficult blog to write as we’ve done some amazing things I don’t know what to include and leave out without writing an essay. I’ll start by mentioning what an awesome team we are on challenger 3 ‘our boat’. These past 2 days we’ve began bonding and working together so incredibly, especially my watch led by watch master john, the king of knots….I would say it did take a bit of a pep talk from our skipper, but it’s fantastic how we work together, and help each other out. They can now deal the UNO cards without me having to do it!!! – For some reason when we play, their main goal is to stop me winning, except Tenzing who’s two nice. She apologises for making you pick up 2.

Yesterday we spent the day in Dieppe. The morning began with dingy racing against the other crew. Skipper Tom leader challenger 3 to a worthy bronze, despite all my efforts to sabotage the others. For some reason I was the wettest. I’m unsure why???? I would say Chloe and Grace are the best rowers ever!!!! J

In the afternoon we let the kids lose around Dieppe. We were going to the beach however it was a bit too windy. Some of the kids even managed a pastry, they are starting to enjoy the local food at last. Had an enjoyable after noon with Alex, Chloe, Will, Grace and Ffion. We shared some great stories and had fun playing our mini Olympics. I think Will won. While out I was taken by great surprise as Pearl, and Amelia from another boat, bought me a present. It was a blue and white bracelet which said ‘Tom’ on it. Thanks guys, I love it. J

Yesterday finished with Sheff Wednesday drawing with Leeds, so me and Pearl are still talking. I did find out the score until this morning though. A special mention to Grace about yesterday. I talked earlier about teamwork. She was totally outstanding. Im so proud of her with her teamwork.

If yesterday was good, today was even better. Up at 7am for a sail to Boulogne Sur Mer. Some wind to sail without the motors on. According to the log book. 58.6 miles taking 9 hrs 40. It maybe could have been quicker however I spent two hours at the helm, zig zagging along (a bit like me in a car), however I blame Lindsey as she kept standing in front of my instrument. I did lead us into some dolphins though!!!

WOW!!!!!! Is the only word I can say. Was not expecting this. I just abandoned the wheel, and everyone just left their sailing jobs to sit and watch the dolphins swim aside us. This was a massive highlight to everyone. Best moment of the trip by far (apart possibly from my ET joke???). The ruling of no phones on deck (they do all follow this ruling always???) was abandoned. My phone wasn’t working, I hope someone shares the photos or videos. We were also the first boat here….after arriving last both times before. Was this down to my steering??? – cause not, it was down to teamwork!!!!!

Anyway I can’t follow that, so time to go. Thank you for taking the time to read.


PS – I did clean the head yesterday…that’s not polishing my bold patch, its cleaning the toilets. It was minging!!!….thats a new word for Ruben to learn (hes from Portugal and the best footballer here).

Day Ten

Today we set sail from Boulogne Ser Mer back to Ramsgate. It wasn’t too long of a journey, but it was quite cold. We did a competition between the Challengers for who could put up the main sail and to our and the other Challengers surprise, we actually won by quite a lot. After we got back to England, we were allowed to go for a walk around Ramsgate. We found Europe’s biggest Wetherspoons, Will wanted to go in, but we were having fish and chips when we got back, so we all told him not to. After, we went to an arcade and played a few games, but we knew that we probably weren’t going back to that arcade so we only bought a little thing. We kept on walking and found a little corner shop and Connor decided to buy a monster energy drink and said he could drink it in five seconds, we timed him and that didn’t happen so we tried again. This also didn’t happen and it ended up coming out of his nose. We went back to the boat and had showers and after that just had a little chill out. Now skipper is telling us to go to bed, so I will leave it with that. Bye!!!

Chloe, Grace, Connor, Sajid & Will

Day Eleven

Today we got a lie in for once (8 am). We didn’t have to sail till later because they wanted us to do a bit of night sailing but we actually ended up getting here a little bit later than anticipated. We arrived at 11:30 PM we were all quite a bit tired and cold by then. Before we set sail today we went off to a little shop just to get a drink or some snacks. There was a thing we had to do where all the boats had to make a little boat out of recycled things and we decided to call it the “SS tom-tanic”. The seas were quite rocky today but it was alright because we have got more used to it. I think we have all gotten better at sailing and know what we are doing and where we are going when we get told to do something. After this there wasn’t really much else that went on in the day because of how much we sailed and how long it was.

Grace, Chloe & Ffion

Day Twelve

‘The Will and Grace Show’

Ayup everyone. Just had pancakes for breakfast….loads of Syrup!!!…and sugar!!!!!! That should keep me quiet!!!

Anyway what have we been up to since I last blogged? Well we have back in England. The sail was to Ramsgate. Was a lovely sunny morning with little wind, everyone was in great spirits. We had a challenge between the boats that morning. Who can get the main sail up the quickest? This involved a full team effort. I was on the winch, which meant Lindsey would shout at me a lot, and we placed Will and Grace as the sweaters. These are the guys that get the sail up. It involves some strength but mainly rhythm, with the rest of the team pulling. Anyway when the claxon sounded to start we went for it. Felt the pressure. Didn’t want to let the team down. The sail went up and up.,,,lots of shouting and muscle, and guess who won, the team who is butt of all the jokes…challenger 3…us!!!! Yes!!! Victory by a country mile. This brought out lots of high fives and even louder cheers. We were told after our sail were lighter…sore loser’s ay!!! Brilliant effort by the guys especially Will and Grace. J J

This lifted spirits and the journey was fab. Lots of games on the boat, and one to one chats. I love chatting to Ruben and Tenzing in particular. Ruben is from Portugal, born to an African family and has so much respect for his family. He lives in the UK with his auntie and uncle, and is the most polite guy ever. Tenzing is originally from Tibet and speaks 5 languages…well actually 6 now. I’ve been teaching her how to speak in ‘Sheffield’. ‘r8t good’ ‘good n8t’.

Anyway we arrived in Ramsgate, and as was told by the kids (not adults) Ramsgate has the largest wetherspoons in Europe. Firstly how did the kids know this, and secondly I couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed so I could check out the local sites, and enjoy a refreshing coca-cola!!!

Fish and chips (chips and sausages for me, I don’t eat fish…poor Nemo) for tea (well dinner as most of our crew call it. I’m still working on this). I love the seaside. Evening meals are brilliant. All sat together like a big family enjoying each other’s company. It brings us all together. Usually followed by out custom game of UNO and noise!!!

Yesterday began with the usual prep of the boat, then a bit of downtime. Music on. Air guitar being played to guns and roses, some dancing, making chickens from tea towels (taught by myself), and the kids made a boat from the recycled waste. I avoided this. Guess what they called it…’Tomtanic’ named after me With ‘We love Tom’ written on the sail. J J.  I love these guys. I will miss them so much when this is all over.

Then the sail….the best sailing we have done. This was to Queensborough which is on the Isle of Sheppey. A 9 hour sail, in proper sailing conditions. Very windy. This is what I had been waiting for, the boat at an angle, waves crashing over. Having to put in practice what we had learnt in very testing conditions. Loved it!!! Having to sweat out the Yankee sail (this is the one at the front for you non sailors (I’ve learnt the lingo)) was difficult. I got volunteered for this job. I don’t know why? This is the hardest sailing challenge I had to deal with so far. Luckily I had Grace with me. She is superwoman.

We sailed during the evening, and it was great to see all the lights on shore, and the large vessels lit up that we kept avoiding and passing. We then had to pack everything together in the dark and cold. Great team effort to get this all done, so we could get to bed at midnight…everyone totally shattered. I also felt all my sailing skills, which are very basic, all coming together.

Anyway, I’ve got to go now. The ship needs cleaning. I can’t leave this to the rest of the crew. That’s unfair. We are one team. See you all soon.


Day Thirteen

Today we were allowed to have a lie in because we got in very late last night. When we got up we were allowed to have free time and have a walk around. There isn’t really much to do in Queensborough apart from a little shop that had a few snacks and drinks. Half of the challenger boats decided to go to KFC (I’m pretty sure they have gone to every single one of them they have seen on the whole voyage) Jacob and some of his friends got lost when they had to get back for 12:30. Then for lunch we had pizza wraps which I have actually never heard of before. After, we sailed to Gravesend it was quite a short journey only about 3 and a half hours. When we went to moor up Grace had to dangle off the edge of the boat to tie the mooring lines on to the buoy. Then we didn’t really do anything apart from cook dinner.

Grace, Chloe, Connor, Ffion & Sajid

Day Fourteen

Today is our final day, sad to see it (apart from the fun sponge, she seems happy to finally get rid of us!), We made our voyage from Gravesend to West India Docks today (via Tower Bridge), when the Tower Bridge opened, everyone was cheering and was waving at us – we felt famous seeing all the cameras and tourists waving us. We saw some other parents from the boat waving at us, we also re-enacted the famous Titanic scene at the bow of the boat. We sang loads of songs to West India Docks. We had to wait for the sea level to rise so then we could dock for the night in the docks. After we reached our final destination ( L ), we had a presentation which included all of the Challenger 3 crew (the best crew) receiving certificates… Also, Tom shared his beautiful poem about the crew of Challenger 3 (but he forgot Jacob)… The families all came to the boats and had a look round our bunks (which were tidy for once). Lindsey cooked us an amazing curry for DINNER not TEA. And now, we’re writing our final blog of our voyage L … It has been a great ride with Challenger 3 over these 10 days and now it’s our final goodbye… This is Challenger 3, signing off.

Tenzing, Pearl, Jacob, Ruben, Sajid, Lindsey (a.k.a the Fun Sponge), Chloe, Grace, Tommy, Will, Ffion, Paul (skipper), Paul (Steve), John and last but not least Connor… Goodbye once and for all – This was Challenger 3, reporting live… Au revoir, Adios, Aufwiedersehen, Ciao, Leka Nosht, goodbye!! <3

Day Fifteen

The final leg and massive thank you

My final blog.

When I lasted blogged we were in Queensbourgh. After a wonder round in the morning (NO MCDONALDS, I think the kids found KFC, or Burger King, we had an afternoons sail to Gravesend. This is was brilliant for myself as the kids were not that interested in being at the helm that day, so I had a good steer. I was trickier than the open seas as had to follow the challengers ahead, and avoid other boats and ships and keep between the buoy markers.  That night we were tied up with no access to land therefore could not get off the boat. The usual fun in the evening and more games of UNO. My favourite times on the boat are the evenings. It was an early night to prepare us for tomorrow, Wednesday 3 October, a sail down the River Thames.

All up early, ready to sail. This is the part everyone was looking forward to, and it didn’t disappoint. I think the kids were relieved too as we didn’t have to get the sails out, we travelled by motor. A few of us had a go on the helm, who can say they drove a boat down the River Thames, not many of us!!!

Along the River Thames we saw the sights (the last time I did this it cost me a fortune on one of those tourist cruises), and there were loads of photos taken (you’ve probably seen them by now).  Lots of laughing and joking, everyone enjoying the experience. We arrived approx. 1 hour before they were due to lift Tower Bridge, so the excitement just grew and grew. We could see everyone coming to watch us. Then under the bridge. Amazing noise, cheering, trying to find loved ones (my brother was somewhere waving us, and doing a bit of filming on his phone). An unforgettable experience. Everyone together. We were one big family. Words cannot describe it. I’ve learnt a bit about sailing, seen dolphin, climbed the mass, however this was easily the best. All 4 boats following each other. It seemed unreal. I never thought it would be this good. My brother sent me a text stating this was amazing.

We then docked  in West India Docks for the final time. Some parents had come to visit. Just before the final presentations, I broke down in tears. It was due this unforgettable experience. Guess who were there to lift me. The kids of course. They were awesome. We had the presentations, and the night was spent mixing with the other crews. I think the kids have had fun, however most cannot wait to see their families again. I know I was looking forward to seeing my family.

We spent Thursday morning cleaning the boats ready for their next journey, before saying our goodbyes, loads of high fives, cuddles, handshakes (I’d been taught a special one) and some more crying by a few.

Well that’s it. The adventure is over. Yes…I never fell in!!! Firstly I would like to say thank you to HSBC, Tall ships (your crew are all awesome, especially Skipper Paul (legend!!) and obviously the kids. They are the most important thing. They should all be so proud of themselves. They were totally fantastic and amazing. I hope they never forget what they achieved. I’m glad I met them all. I did everything I could to be the best mentor, and I hope I did it well. I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and following what we have been up to. I wish the kids well in their GCSEs and whatever they do in the future. If they push themselves out of their comfort zone, like they did coming on this trip, and show the same values, they can go far in life.

Thank you everyone.

Poem - Challenger 3

We are led by our leader, skipper Paul; We put up the sails we when shout Haul.

Lindsey is the skippers mate; She’d send the kids to bed early, which they would all hate.

Watch leader John is the king of the knots; He’s also very good at washing the pots.

Paul is also a watch lead; He has his favourite, we know its Sajid!!!

Sajid likes to make the skipper a brew; I hope its not him stood up at the Loo!!!

Also from Leeds, we have tonsillitis Pearl; When the sea gets rocky, there’s a chance she will hurl.

Ruben we all know is from Portugal; we’ve had conversations, they’ve never been dull.

In the snake pit you will find Ffion; however sometimes we wonder where she has gone.

Grace we know is a superstar here; when doing the sweating we give her a cheer!

Our our boat we also had Connor; getting to know him has been such an honour.

Getting to Tenzing has been a delight; She is always smiling and is a very polite.

Jacob is always on this phone; however we are here, he is never alone.

When the sail needs to go up we can reply on Will, getting to know him has also been brill.

He has also become a great friend to Chloe; who is loving life here, out at the sea.

Alex we know is a great chappy, I’m please to meet him, he is always happy.

And finally we have me, I’ve had the time of my life her on upon Challenger 3!!!! JJ

By Tom Bamforth

Join our mailing list

Get the latest updates and news, straight to your inbox.

Add your email and we'll do the rest!