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Challenger 3 – South West Guides

By Kate Stewart - September 1st, 2023 | Posted in Voyager blogs No comments

We have two groups from South West Guides joining us on board Challengers 1 and 3 this week for a five-night Voyage of Exploration along the south coast.

Check out this blog written by the guides on board Challenger 3 to read about their week so far.

Day 1

Monday 28

Today we arrived at Portsmouth to a warm welcome from a guiding ambassador (RAdm Jude Terry) and the deputy chief commissioner, before being shown around the Challenger and meeting our amazing crew.

We got our induction into the safety of the boats and learnt some essential new knots, while our skipper did some maintenance. After learning how to keep safe (and how to use the toilets), we started cooking our dinner- fajitas!

After a very tasty dinner, we set up our bunks and spent some time admiring the beautiful sunsets from the deck. While admiring the view, we got a wave and flash of blue lights from the local police boat, to many cheers.

We’re very excited to be spending more time here and getting to know each other!

Day 2

Tuesday 29

The day the rain arrived

After an idyllic guiding evening of campfire songs in the cockpit (heard by many of Portsmouth), we were lucky that the clear weather continued as we set out on our first sail of the trip.

An easy motor out of Portsmouth channel was followed by a relaxed sail, under power of the Yankee and Stay sails, over to Osborne bay on the Isle of Wight. We rested on our laurels as we enjoyed lunch on anchor, in the shadow of Queen Victoria’s favourite home.

With our bellies full and bodies relaxed, we set off again headed for Yarmouth. In the afternoon despite the wind picking up to over 14 knots, we managed a speed of nearly 10 knots under the power of our three sails. Our earlier practice of tacking proved invaluable as we zig-zagged our way through the Solent water, with a pitch of over 30°!

The rain arrived in force a couple of hours before we moored for the night, rafted up to Challenger 1 – our sister, and often adversary, vessel.

Yesterday evening our wonderful Skipper Amz taught us the game “boat murder”, this cross between cluedo and wink murder has captivated the imagination of the entire crew with four murders already occurring. Everyone is on edge wondering who could be the next victim, and who could be after them.

We are all looking forward to a relaxing evening and hopefully an early night, ready for more adventure in the morning.

Day 3

Wednesday 30

The day we were pirates

After starting the day with a yummy breakfast of cereal and crumpets, we prepped the deck for today’s sail- 40 miles from Yarmouth to Weymouth. Our teamwork skills saw the Mainsail up fairly quickly, as our crew member Elaine steered us out past the IOW Needles.

The weather and wind were kind to us and we had some time to relax, so some of us headed to the ‘fun’ zones (aka the splash zones) and dangled our legs over the sides before realising our ensign had become detached, and officially sailing as pirates for the rest of the day. (Aaaargh!)

After a nice warm lunch, we picked up the ropes again with a couple of tacks (turns) and a heel of close to 40° and a top speed of 11 knots (far faster than all other boats in the vicinity) – it was thrilling! Relaxing was done for the day as the weather picked up a little, so we turned to head for port.

On the way to port, we learnt and practised a man overboard drill, saving our 17th crew member, Kenny (a danbouy). With our extra teammate safely back on board, we headed into port. The harbourmaster gave Amz a challenging mooring point, but the female parallel parking is undoubtedly superior as she managed it with no issues. After we cleared the deck our sister ship Challenger 1 (having now caught up to us) rafted to us for the night.

Our speedy sea hands, now well-versed in packing up the deck, meant we made it to the ice cream shop just before closing, some of us still in wet weather gear. A few eye rolls from the staff, but a well-deserved treat for our hard working crew.

On the return from the shops, our wonderful skipper, Amz, was hoisted high above the deck, Tinkerbell style, to retrieve the ensign halliard as ‘You raise me up’ and the theme song of the Pirates of the Caribbean played in the background, much to the bemusement of the Weymouth locals. That, however, put an end to our pirating for the day, as our ensign is flying high once again.

Throughout the day, our game of boat murder carried on, with lots of failed attempts and a few successful murders! After the exertions of the day, we had dinner, which was a delicious fish and chips before having a chilled evening and playing a few games. All in all, a wonderful day!

#girlscan #inspiregirls #girlguiding #girlguidingswe #thisgirlcan #joinus #volunteerwithus

Challenger 3 Over and Out.

Day 4

Thursday 31

Taylor’s Version

This morning we set sail from Weymouth towards Poole, as there is a firework show planned. The weather conditions are very wet and windy, leading to a very choppy sea, we spent the majority of the boat trip buried in our foulies, huddled like penguins in the cockpit. Our moods were slightly lifted when Amazing Skipper Amz brought out her speaker and we blasted Taylor Swift and sang along.

We waited in hope to see if the wind would come back around behind the boat, so that we could then hoist the sails for extra speed, however the weather gods were against us so we ended up just travelling by motor. The biscuits and hot drinks were passed around often! We were charged with watching out for crab and lobster pots to avoid hitting them.

For lunch we had baked baguettes with either cheese, ham or both whilst continuing our journey to Poole. After lunch, some of us went back up on deck, while a few of us stayed down below to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Those on deck played alphabet games naming animals, clothing, things you can put in your mouth and parts of the boat, the handcuff game, as well as eye-spy.

During the journey a couple of us got a little bit seasick due to the rough waves, Watch Leader Paul did a great job of keeping us in the boat despite our heads over the side. This has now been immortalised in song but more on that later…..

Our wonderful Watch Leader Lauren did some amazing steering and got us to Poole in a good manor – showing girl power at the helm. We all felt much better when the weather cheered up as we pulled into Poole Harbour and sailed around Brownsea Island. Brownsea Island is considered to be the birth place of scouting as Lord Baden Powell held the first experimental scout camp there. It is a special place for all scouts and guides so we enjoyed being able to see it from the boat. Brownsea is also one of the few places in the UK that still has red squirrels as their population was decimated by the grey squirrels introduced from America by the Victorians in the 1800s.

After some more superb parking by SKipper Amz, this time reversing in and backing onto two navy boats, good old Giles helps out by telling us how to deal with the ropes when we want to set off and dock, he’s very good at that.

There has also been another boat murder in the cockpit involving a tea towel. The fact that it rained earlier worked in this person’s favour as she asked the other person to dry something and passed them the towel. It appears all the easy murders have been completed so people will have to step up their game for any more to happen.

This evening after we had finished packing up the boat, we all went into Poole to get some ice cream, we paused for a photo and sing song at the B-P statue before looking around some local shops. One of our lovely crew bought a really nice hat and Taylor Swift record, for which she does not have a record player. Some of us then danced on the deck to Taylor Swift and the YMCA while waiting for dinner which was pasta and meatballs. We also were lucky enough to have spoken to some of the navy crew in the boats behind us, they were really nice.

After the sun set we looked over to the harbour side and saw the bright lights of rides being set up! Amz being the awesome Skipper that she is took us over to see what was happening. It was AMAZING! There were a couple of rides that we enjoyed, some second helpings of ice creams but the highlight was the man selling various light up accessories. We all decided to get light up floral head dresses. There was a big debate about whether or not Giles would want a lightsabre. (It transpired that he did, so Amz had to run back a get him one). When Giles had the double-ended light saber in hand it was the happiest we have ever seen him. He even tolerated Amz making him wear a blue light up floral crown!

We capped off the night with an exciting firework show, culminating in a rousing rendition of Thunderation.

Challenger 3 Over and Out.

Day 5

Friday 1

Tally Ho Chaps

Due to the tides out of Poole, we needed to make an early start. With the deck ship-shape we set off on empty stomachs. Breakfast, however, was forthcoming as the lovely Tracy provided us with scrambled eggs on muffins as we made our way back past Brownsea, on course for Gosport.

The weather conditions today are a great improvement on yesterday. We hoisted all three of our sails and made progress with the light wind. We all worked together to hoist the Mainsail, with one person calling “2, 6, heave”, this call hails back to the days of Napoleon where it was the people in the 2 and 6 position who needed to move the cannons for reloading. We once again sailed around the IOW Needles, this time piloted by Bethan followed by an apt takeover by Erin.

The morning climaxed when we installed the Spinnaker pole. This 20m pole protrudes from the boat; a line is then attached to the bow, along which you would travel if you had need to erect a Spinnaker sail. We did not have a need for this additional sail – however the more daring of us did brave the climb along the rope, above the waters below.

We had a smorgasbord for lunch in an attempt to use up any of the uneaten food; the exertions of the morning saw this goal easily completed.

With our minds now starting to drift to life once again on terra firma, our guard was let down when yet another boat murder occurred. With Amz passing Summer a fender by the mast. A question could be asked of why we might need a fender in the middle of the ocean, but this question did not occur to Summer, so only six of the crew remain alive.

Girlguiding is well known for the campfire songs enjoyed by its members. We certainly brought that spirit on board the boat this week where we have sung several times every day. We have enjoyed this so much that we have even rewritten verses of “You’ll never get to heaven” for each of the TSYT crew. Music video to follow!

Oh you’ll never get to heaven…

With Captain Amz…Because Captain Amz, the sea she tames

With First Mate Giles…Because First Mate Giles can sail for miles

With Watchman Paul…Because watchman Paul won’t let you fall

On Lauren’s Watch…Because Lauren’s watch is just top notch

Our entry to Gosport saw us see all the boats in Portsmouth ready for the Clipper Race, as well as a couple of Naval aircraft carriers.

After mooring for the day, we had to do our normal deck pack up as well as the end of trip clean down, of the entire boat. We also all had the opportunity to “climb the mast”. This was great fun and a highlight of the trip for many people.

By working as a team we saw our chores done in no time. Our hard work was rewarded with a lovely curry for dinner. We still had some down time before our last night on board. We are all leaving with fond memories of our time on board, and many plans to return in future!

Our deepest thanks go to Captain Amz, Giles, Lauren and Paul. Thank you for teaching us with compassion and putting up with our shenanigans with patience for the last week.

From Emma, Gemma, Elaine, Summer, Erin, Rhianon, Izzy, Tracy, Jaide, Holly, Jennifer, Bethan

Challenger 3 Over and Out.

Fin​

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