Onboards Challengers 1 and 2 this week, we welcome two groups of early talent from leading energy firm Schneider Electric for a five-day voyage, as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Gold awards.
Check out their blog below to see what they’ve been getting up to!
Early on Monday morning, SE early talent travelled from different parts of the UK to Portsmouth.
We were introduced to our Skipper, First Mate and Watch Leaders, who gave us a brief induction to the ship. They gave us above and below deck safety training. Then we were allocated our bunks and were ready to sail off!
We used the engines to take us out of the docks, followed by hoisting the sails to reach our destination on the Isle of Wight.
While onboard, we tried different roles including steering and winching. Whilst steering, we managed to pull off a doughnut. Eventually, Cowes appeared on our horizon and we moored successfully as a team. Once docked, we broke up into two teams. One team made spaghetti bolognese, whilst the other team prepared the boat for the night.
Arriving in Portsmouth at 12:00pm with eagerness and suspicion on our minds. We met our crew: Ricky, Giles, Rupert and Chris, the ones to see us safely through the next few days. After having an introduction to the boat, its myriad of new terminology, and sailing etiquette it was time to set sail towards Cowes, Isle of Wight.
We left shore using the engines as we began to erect the 3 sails (I can’t remember their names yet… oh yeah, one’s a Yankee). We practiced ‘man overboard’ and began to gain an appreciation for the sailing community. We got in much later than the other Challenger but then we found out they only used one sail and lots of engine. So who really won? I’ll let you decide…
Dinner time was next. Sausage and Mash for 11, light work! Ash, Ed and James tackled the mammoth task one frankfurter at a time. Quite frankly, this task was painful as you could not fit the giant potato pan, frying pan and veg on the stove simultaneously. This could only be defined as spinning damp paper plates.
James’s mashed potato was very creamy; the real main event of the dish. The veg took a long time to boil and the broccoli was borderline raw still, but hey ho. The desert of Magnums was exquisite! Back in bed by 11:30pm for an early start tomorrow.
What a day of superb sailing in the Solent!
We started the day with a big milestone: Jamie trying porridge for the first time. He was not impressed. Luckily the day picked up, as did the wind.
The wind made some of us cold however we had good insulation around our legs, except Kshamya who wore 5 layers. Josh discovered an obsession with knots. The bowline, the clove hitch, the reef, round turn two half hitches… He loves them all.
We got all three sails up and set off with the help of biscuit power. We learnt the names for sailing into the wind at different angles and completed 2 tacks, but no gybe in sight. However, we had the excitement of narrowly avoiding gunfire!
Priya bravely accepted the challenge of climbing the mast to take down the sails, when no else dared… After making it into the safety of Weymouth Harbour, we parked up and carefully packed away the sails, tensioned the halyards, and cleaned up the deck.
After an ice cream and a delightful walk along the beach it was time for fish and chips. Despite many chip casualties, we sat down to eat and reflected on the day… in silence.
On to tomorrow!!!!!!!
- Crab leg count: 6
- Gelato scoop individual record: 5
- Sunburn victims: 3
- Biscuits eaten: Many
- Sailing learnt: Some
Today was an early, industrious start: we were up at 06:00am in order to get away from Cowes in plenty of time and make it to Weymouth this evening.
Despite bleary eyes, caused by the amplifying snores of Malakai, Cornew and Chris, we were able to get underway in good time and took full advantage of the tide push us south west past Southampton, The Needles, Bournemouth and an array of coastal lodgings.
We put into practice some of yesterday’s lessons, meaning getting the sails up was relatively painless with the mooring lines and fenders dispatched quickly. Everyone took a turn at steering the vessel and Ash hit a wooping 12.4 knots. Winds died down later and we came in towards Weymouth closer to 6-8 Knots (plus some engine).
We even had time to take a detour via Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, a place some of us hadn’t explored since A-level Geography. Despite the detour we still beat the other Challenger back to shore as ‘Mungo’s Leisure Tours’ continued.
We had much more free time today so worked on developing some new knotting skills and further refining our techniques in man overboard and tacking. It was very satisfying this afternoon at Weymouth Harbour, taking some time to enjoy the beach and the various refreshments on offer.
Dinner today was fish and chips: a perfect end to a long day of sailing!
Day 3 started early for some of us – a freezing cold 06:30am swim at Weymouth Beach, followed by a nice breakfast bap. This was made by the brilliant Port team chefs. We then headed over to Challenger 2 for some man overboard training where we were shown many rescue techniques.
We had some free time so we explored Weymouth and more importantly, found some nice ice cream parlors. Once noon arrived, we headed out to sea – destination Yarrrrrmouth!
On our journey, Challenger 2 challenged us to a staysail hoisting race, where we absolutely and completely destroyed them. Sailing along the Jurassic Coast, we stopped at Lulworth Cove, where we spotted a grounded ship waiting for the tides to turn in their favour.
Lunch was a hearty jacket potato with beans, tuna and cheese, made by the lovely starboard team, which we ate while catching some rays up on deck.
Full from lunch, we settled below deck to learn about the best ways to check the weather at sea and collision regulations from Alex. After this, we all braved the spinnaker pole challenge where we raced to the end of the spinnaker pole, which was raised over the open ocean.
Tired from hoisting ourselves up the rope, we journeyed onwards to Yarmouth and once docked we ate some fantastic fajitas – once again cooked by the superstar Port team.
This morning, we were allowed to sleep in (07:30am) until we were woken by the smell of cooking bacon and eggs. After breakfast we joined up with the challenger 1 crew to learn about what to do in a mob situation (man overboard).
We took in turns being hoisted up the mast from the pontoon and getting up to the deck safely. After we learned how to save a man overboard, we erected the spinnaker pole which is used to gain extra wind power by moving one of the sails to a different position.
When erecting the spinnaker pole we learned that, when sailing, if the spinnaker pole needs to be spiked quickly, a crew member would have to climb a rope up to the sail about 20ft off of the deck.
We then timed each other climbing up it ourselves in a race, hooking ourselves on using a harness and wearing a safety helmet to ensure we were safe whilst racing up the rope. Ash came first in the race, getting to the spinnaker pole in six seconds, and James came second with eleven seconds; everyone else came quite close behind.
Once we took the spinnaker pole down, we set sail around noon. We were heading for Yarmouth with not a lot of wind, so we knew we would be motoring a lot of the way. Once we were out in the sea, we began to cook a lunch of filled pasta with tomato and basil sauce.
After 40 minutes of sailing we had our mainsail up, and had a race with challenger 1 to get our staysail up. We started strong but after the sail got caught on itself, we eventually lost.
Throughout the sail, we learned a variety of sailing skills such as how to use the sun, moon and stars to find our location, how to tell what buoys mean and where the no-go zones are.
When we began to take down the Yankee sail, Jelly shouted out ‘dolphin!’ and we all stopped what we were doing for a look over the side. We waited patiently to see if he was pulling our leg but to our delight, this dolphin leaped out of the water in front of all of us, it played around for a minute and was then never seen again. It was the best moment of the trip so far.
We’ve just arrived in Yarmouth and are about to eat chilli and nachos, which the girls have cooked for everyone, before getting ready for another day of sailing tomorrow.