We have eight young people joining us onboard our ketch to complete their DofE Gold Expedition this week.
The young people come from Bryanston School in Dorset. Read their blog to find out how they’ve been getting on.
We arrived in Portsmouth through various types of travel, naïve to the journey we had ahead. As we first boarded our vessel, we all felt the mix of excitement and anticipation. When we ventured down to see our cabins we were all a little shocked at the size of everything, but eventually accepted it.
Once we were all settled, we explored the entire boat from the engine room to the heads. After that, we all convened in our dining room to debrief and plan our meals for the rest of the week. After all of the discussion and planning, we sent Fin, Jeremy and Max to the shops to collect our provisions. Once they arrived back, we had some down time. Many uno games were played and unpacking was done.
Later on, we all split into three groups: engineers, deck crew and boat handlers. We all had to take everything in as we would need to teach each other later on in our journey.
Once the clock struck five, dinner prep began. Although we were missing a few ingredients, we adapted and persevered to produce many portions of spaghetti bolognaise. Finally, after a tiring first day, we settled down to our bunks at 21:00 to prepare for our next full on day.
By Kaelan and Finn.
The day started with a fruitful sunrise. Max yelled at Ben to get out of bed, because Ben was on breakfast duty. We had a pleasant breakfast of toast, cereal and a variety of spreads, which tingled the senses. We then cleaned up and prepared the ketch for lift off from the pontoon.
We had to teach each other the different roles we’d had learnt yesterday, as we were rotating jobs. Once everyone knew what they had to do and how to do it, we set off from the pontoon. There was a light breeze of around 20 knots, which allowed us to release our Main, Mizzen and Jib sails and take the high winds under our command and sail the high seas of the Solent. We were nothing less than the modern version of 15th century pirates. With the wind on our side, nothing could stop us, except for the ever-extending amount of time it took for Rocco and Ollie to make six cups of coffee (Rocco can’t use a kettle).
We finally made it to Beaulieu River, so we pulled in our sails and transformed from a majestic sailing ship to a speedy motorboat, zipping through the river. We arrived in Bucklers Hard at around lunch, where we had our secondary scran of sausage rolls and pasties.
We spent the evening relaxing and showering in the refreshing showers, and returned to find out that Rocco not only can’t steam a kettle, but also lacks any knowledge about cooking food. I think the crew have decided to revoke Rocco of his cooking duties and promoted him to head dishwasher for the rest of the voyage. Overall a successful day of sailing, pillaging, fun and sub-mediocre food.
Rocco’s cooking: 1/10 (at best)
By Arthur and Jeremy.
Today there was weather that humanity has never seen. Thus, we were stormbound and so, we woke up slightly later at around 08:30. Rocco cooked the most mid bacon rolls, before Finn learned how to clean the heads (the toiler). Following the long breakfast, we took turns going in the dingy, proving our capabilities as competent crew members.
Despite Max and Arthur nearly drowning (not really) after the bung was carelessly knocked out, we all proved ourselves as competent crew members yet again.
After the dingy course was completed, there was a quick sandwich lunch and then the crew went into town. Max bought an entire fudge cake, which he proceeded to devour in its entirety when we returned to the ship, while others bought coffees and strawberries.
The crew returned in pouring rain, and so everybody decided to shower and dry their clothes. Supper was then prepared by Fin, Arthur and Kalen, who crafted a supper that has not been eaten or made at this point in writing. Ultimately, the day was a success and we are alive, which is always a bonus.
By Max and Rocco (actually Max wrote all of it, Rocco has been entirely useless).
We had a slightly later set off from Bucklers Hard, because we had to wait for the tide to rise enough so we could clear the exit of Beaulieu River. While we were waiting, we planned Saturday in readiness for Monkey (our DofE assessor) to join us then we had our lunch, which consisted of chicken wraps.
We then headed into the Solent where we did some tacking and everyone got a chance to steer during a tack.
We then proceeded into Lymington and beat the rain, before heading to the shops to get the food for the evening, which was sausages and chips. Unfortunately, we got the chips before the sausages were cooked, so we had to have them separately. A school boy error.
We awoke at 08.30 and it took us a little longer to drag ourselves from our bunks. We eventually made it out of our room and blindly stumbled through the boat in the general direction of the smell of crispy bacon. We all slammed back our bacon rolls and went straight on to planning.
The weather wasn’t looking in our favour, but we felt that the wind speed would be low enough to handle, we would soon find out that we were very much wrong. We made a pre-planned route on the charts and calculated what we thought would be our estimated time and bearings for the duration of the trip.
We managed to do all our checks, cleaning and departing from Lymington harbour with no assistance. We made it out into the Solent and braved the cold winds with some cups of coffee and tea that Rocco had managed to squeeze out from the kettle.
We realised that the first few legs of our planned route would have to be converted from sailing to motor boating, as the wind was coming straight onto the bow of the ketch. We decided to re-evaluate whether the wind would be suitable for putting up our Mizzen and Jib when we were passing Cowes.
We bashed out a good amount of distance as the wind speed only picked up and the waves grew worse. As we passed Cowes, we realised that putting up any sails was out of the question as we had wind speeds of up to 35 knots. We were being hit hard during the last few legs of the trip to Portsmouth.
The ketch was put past her limit. The galley was erupting with knives, pans and falling med kits is what I’ve been told from Rocco’s reports from below deck. Up top the manoeuvring (of an already hard to manoeuvre vessel) was becoming stressful but the crew kept their calm through the storm. We may have been experiencing overly harsh conditions but we held our own and made it into Gunwharf Quays with our sanity, a functioning ship and a good story to tell.
Based on a true story (with slight alterations for intensity)!
Ok, the final day. A test for all might and hard work. Years of training had let up to this pinnacle moment. The apex of our sailing careers, and as expected, Finn messed up his one chance.
Monkey (DofE assessor), the dawn treader arrived through the husk of the sea. His soul boarded our vessel and along with him, he brought a quaking atmosphere. We were scared, afraid and burning breakfast. Who knew scrambled eggs were so hard to make on a gas stove? Not me! Monkey’s essence reached the galley. The lights flickered but we held strong, serving an amazing eggy concoction. He swallowed it in one foul swoop!
We cleaned the galley and set sail to the Solent. Before we were out of port, we gained our first death strike when Rocco nearly lost his whole hand, and leg, and arm……. And the rest of his body when trying to hold the hulking 28 tons of pure steel, made heavier by Monkey’s expectations and Finn’s extra snack.
Unfortunately, there were still professionals onboard so Rocco lived, what a shame. Our second error came in the form of a bowline knot. Finn our most useful and valuable crew member was chosen as our boat’s champion, he would lead us to eternal glory. Only joking, Finn is useless, we were screwed when he was chosen. Finn can’t even tie his shoelaces let alone a bowline knot.
Unexpectedly, Finn tied the knot with grace and valour bringing honour to our ketch crew…… JUST KIDDING, he couldn’t do it. STRIKE 2 !!! Monkey wrote in his book. One more strike and it was over, Monkey would ingest our souls and consume our life essence to dominant earth realm. We were all that stood between him and the entire earthly population. The tension was rising not only in the rope, but in the atmosphere. Monkey was coming for our souls. We only had one thing left we could do, so we sailed the boat fine, all passed and lived. THE END
P.S. the sailing was fun and Monkey is not actually a demon born goblin, but a chill dude just for clarification.
By Max and Arthur (only survivors of the true story).