Onboard Challenger 4 this week, we have a group of individuals aged 16-25 from across the UK, joining us for a residential adventure to the Channel Islands and back.
Check out their voyager blog to read how it’s going so far.
The day started with briefings on general boat awareness and safety. Setting off from Portsmouth around 13:30, we cruised out towards Ventnor and promptly hoisted the Mainsail (which took a lot of effort). We were surrounded by a thick fog, which quickly removed all views of the isle as we passed.
Seasickness was becoming ever present amongst the crew as we sailed towards the Channel Islands, with two members of the youth crew down below asleep, and many others feeling the effects.
Cooking dinner was challenging, with the stove swinging and the water in the pots trying to escape as we heeled over in the moderate breeze. It took us over two hours to conjure up veggie spag bol, probably a new record! Alongside the record sailing speeds that we achieved (averaging 10kts the whole way to Alderney).
As the light faded, the signal lights came on and we were alerted to the presence of an abandoned ship that was adrift in our area, after we spotted a mysterious light moving at speed across the horizon (which we later found out was a search and rescue helicopter), and received a direct radio message from the French coastguard.
A constant watch was kept to avoid a collision, which was becoming increasingly difficult due to the fading light. As the sun set, the temperature dropped dramatically, with many reaching for the last extra layers that they had.
Navigation across the shipping channel was challenging with many ships firmly refusing to alter their course even though we were under sail. Terry sorted them out…
As we approached Alderney we could see the lighthouses of France shining bright lights over the sea, however these lights did not help us find the mooring buoy, which was being hidden by a thick blanket of darkness. Many of the crew were feeling the bitter cold and were fighting sleep whilst struggling to fix the Mainsail cover.
Eventually, we had finished our duties at the lovely early time of 02:00 and promptly fell asleep in our bunks with the swaying of the ship slowly rocking us to sleep and ending our first day at sea.
We arrived at Braye Harbour, Alderney at around 02:00. After a long night of sailing in the dark, cold, harsh, conditions, we took down the sails, hastily fastening the cover on the Mainsail and then headed straight to bed.
We were woken up at 10:00, given a short de-brief about the day before and had a late breakfast before we picked up some pasties to bring ashore for our lunches. We took the water taxi to the mainland, where we all got soaked!
On land, we split off into two groups, some toured the island by foot and visited museums along with other cultural areas on the island. Others rented bikes to explore the quaint island. We spent the next three hours enjoying the scenic beaches and cliffs.
During the bike ride, we spotted many old bunkers from the second world war that were dotted around the island, the inside was damaged and derelict but provided an insight into the horror and tragedy of the terrible wars that plagued the island when it was under control of the Nazi regime. We ventured inside some of the rugged old war monuments, the grandest of all, the Odeon, a concrete behemoth, provided views that took all of our breaths away. The lighthouse stood towering over us like man over ant, a guardian angel of the coast warding off ships from the choppy and rocky shore.
With the bikes returned, we further explored the island, in hopes to find a bite to eat. Eventually we came across a desolate warehouse, in the middle of the island, filled with the most scrumptious food one could find. We devoured our snacks at a local café where we bought drinks and enjoyed the view of the seafront.
We then continued across the island. After a quick stop at the beach to enjoy the scenic views, we all showered and freshened up. After a rib ride back, getting significantly less wet, we discussed the hearty meal we were about to eat.
Port watch cooked a lovely pork chop, complete with a side of fresh vegetables and rustic mash. After a long day the food was welcome and delicious. We went to sleep early with our bellies full and tired legs, preparing to get up early for the next exciting day of our voyage, commencing at 05:00 to head to Guernsey.
The wind raged throughout the night on our voyage, knocking around our items and causing a loud crash. Several of our items needed to be resorted after the rocky night. Our crew got approximately two hours of sleep, before waking up at the lovely time of 05:00 to travel from Alderney to Guernsey. We persevered through the cold and wet journey, with some crew members napping on deck in order to preserve energy. We arrived at Guernsey early and tied up to the pontoons, before heading ashore for nice, warm, showers.
In Guernsey, we started by exploring the east coast of the town. The town is quite lovely, filled to the brim with various boutiques, cafes, and shops. It has many French and English influences. We purchased souvenirs and ran very important errands (buying snacks), as we finally found civilization after the open sea. There were many shops to choose from, with the city bustling to the brim on a simple Tuesday morning. Additionally, the town is home to a rich history and several museums. We visited the statue of Queen Victoria and Victor Hugo, as well as that of the military officers Alderney and Guernsey for which the two islands are named.
Soon, it started to rain. Several of us took shelter in the local library, while others headed to a popular café. We spent many happy hours in each respective location, chatting away and recharging our batteries. Alas, our rumbling stomachs led us back to the boat in time for a late lunch.
For lunch, we had a wonderfully prepared chicken goujon, with many going for seconds or thirds and all heartily enjoying the meal. We did a lesson on flares, learning the importance of various distress signals and flares. We also received a brief lecture on the importance of proper flare safety and disposal, due to the ammunition inside.
From there, we headed out again to explore the town briefly, before rejoining to play cards on the boat. We cooked a classic British dinner of fish and chips, with beans, just in time for our captain to return to ship and enjoy the meal with us. The beans were soaked in tomato sauce and had a rather nice texture.
After dinner and clean up, one of our crew members graced us with a terrific lesson on the weather. The lesson was on tides and wind, while the rest of us listened intently and learnt. With our bellies and minds full, we headed off to an early bed in order to be ready to rise tomorrow.
We woke at 07:00 with the aim to leave by 09:00. After a quick breakfast and clean-up, we were underway at 08.45. As we left, we put our Mainsail, Yankee 2 and Staysail all up. However, after 45 minutes of very limited wind, we put the Yankee and Staysail down.
Lunch prep began and led to some people feeling slightly unwell, luckily with some time helming, this was quickly fixed. We had a lovely pasta and tomato sauce, which was enjoyed by all the crew. After, washing up was completed.
We were split into our watches in order to give people time to rest. As port crew were on deck first, we were put to work, put two reefs in the Main and putting the Yankee up to return them to the deck 30 minutes later.
At this point, dinner was served. I was a lovely curry. As we neared our next wave point of the Isle of Wight, we raised all our sails. As we got round the Isle of Wight, we dropped all of our sails and began to motor towards our final destination of Portsmouth. We were also met by a lovely sunset. Coming into the port was tricky because of ferries, however Giles did an excellent job of taking us in.
Once we were docked, we had a debrief about the day. Many tired heads hit the pillow and we all went to sleep very quickly.