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Ketch – Schneider Electric (DofE Gold Expedition)

By Kate Stewart - September 18th, 2023 | Posted in Voyager blogs No comments

A group of young apprentices from Schneider Electric (aged 23 to 25) are joining us on board our 55ft ketch vessel to complete their Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Gold Expedition.

Read their blog to see how they have been getting on!

Day 1

Monday 11

The team arrived at Gunwharf Quays at 13:00 in high spirits ready for our adventure. We boardedTenacity of Bolton and were shown our kitchen/bedroom. We were delighted to have a short but punchy and informative safety briefing before heading off to Cowes.

On the journey we practiced our knots ready for when they would be needed. The key knots learnt today were the bowline, figure of eight stopper and cloves hitches.

When we arrived in Cowes we planned our meals for the week and sorted out the rota for all the jobs, splitting into two groups, the Butterflies and Zebras.

While the Zebras cooked our first meal, chickpea and sweet potato curry, the butterflies planned our route for tomorrow.

We will be travelling from Cowes to Yarmouth, hopefully by the power of wind!!!

Day 2

Tuesday 12

Big day on the boat today as it’s crewmate Priyas birthday!!!!!! We kicked off the day with some smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, then once we were fuelled we hit the Solent. We had perfect conditions to practice our gybes and tacks, which made a seven-mile journey last the full day.

Due to the challenges of lighting candles on the deck of a sailing boat, we had to trick Priya into coming downstairs at the right time for her birthday cake.

More exciting times as we unlocked two new knots!!!!! The round turn two half hitches and the reef knot. We also started work on our group project. We’ve decided to go for a wildlife theme, identifying and documenting the birds, fish and plants that we see on our voyage. We enjoyed a lovey walk along the Yar Estuary, where we really got our project going.

As per Priya’s request we had fajitas for dinner, although a relatively simple meal, Ed had some issues in the kitchen. That being said everyone survived and dinner was lovely.

On to Day 3, Beaulieu here we come.

By Jamie, Atlanta and Ed.

Day 3

Wednesday 13

Yarmouth to Buckler’s Hard.

We came out of Yarmouth under heavy cloud with thick jackets on; not excited about the weather ahead. Luckily as the day went on, the skies brightened as did our moods.

Today was a day for tacking and gybing. We learnt how to run both a tack and a gybe and the steps involved with both. We were also able to work more on our project, spotting Canadian geese, a heron and seagulls.

We learnt how to navigate ourselves down a shallow channel as we sailed up Beaulieu River. We saw some lovely property and dreamed of the day we could live there, as we headed towards the marina. Jamie then started his training for a half marathon in three weeks’ time while the girls walked to Beaulieu village and back, where we witnessed the local pests; donkeys!

After dinner and preparing navigation for the next day, we wandered to the Master Builder’s Pub. After preparing for the next day and a game of Jenga, we saw a meteorite shower on the way back to the boat!

Day 4

Thursday 14

Bucklers Hard to Warsash through the river Hamble.

This was our practice run through of our assessment day for tomorrow. We were given control of the boat to plot our own route and decide when we needed to manoeuvre towards our destination.

The day started working our way back out of the shallow waters of Beaulieu River and we were lucky enough to spot a seal pup resting on a buoy in the river.

Even with little wind, we managed to get the sails up and practice some tacks and gybes in preparation for tomorrow.

After realising we’d veered off course, we decided we needed to put the motor on to make Warsash before low tide.

After a debrief, we made significant progress on our ‘Wildlife Watches Project’, successfully identifying the wildlife we had spotted and finding key facts about them, we returned to Tenacity of Bolton to prepare navigation and fuel up for tomorrow.​

Day 5

Friday 15

The big day! Assessment day.

Unfortunately Warsash lacks any shower facilities, so the crew were not in high spirits first thing. Luckily the day turned around when our assessor turned up and we were able to slip lines and head for Gunwharf Quays.

Under the immense pressure of the assessor, we successfully hoisted all four sails and sailed along smoothly. Until… “Oh no, our steering has broken”. We were quick to act though, and managed to get the emergency tiller up and running, smooth sailing here we come.

Until… “Oh no, MAN OVERBOARD”. We managed to stop the ship, quickly tack and on the third attempt managed to save our crew member (a fender). Smooth sailing resumed.

We were then able to navigate into Gunwharf Quays successfully, where we prepped dinner, sorted our nav for tomorrow and practiced our rowing on a dingy in the harbour (“Oh no, Priya and Josh won”).

We also had the chance to debrief with our assessor and Skipper, who told us how great we all are. Our one small flaw is our timing.

Next stop, Cowes!​

Day 6

Saturday 16

Under the Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quays, we woke up to lovely blue skies and were ready to take on the tough journey to Cowes. No ferries around, so we decided to depart via the main channel so we would have more sailing space.

After leaving the main channel, we successfully hoisted all four sails. However, after five minutes of drifting with the tide, we decided to take action and drop our Staysail and Main to give the genoa a chance.

Unfortunately, there was close to no wind, so we had to abandon plan A and go to plan B. Plan B was to learn how to anchor, so we headed to Osbourne Bay to revive our day. We successfully anchored and prepared a lovely lunch, which we ate while unlocking our final knot, the rolling hitch! Comp Crew Knots completed!

After our relaxed time at anchor, we decided to head for Cowes once more. Once we arrived at Cowes we went on a walk for our wildlife project and also practiced our stone skimming and throwing techniques.

On to our last full day on the Solent. Final stop Gunwharf Quays!​

Day 7

Sunday 17

We started out the day full of hope for a full day of sailing as the wind was forecast to be favourable. Breakfast began smoothly until oh no! A rotten egg was cracked. As the smell consumed below deck, we quickly evacuated to the pontoon.

After deposing of the eggs and resuming breakfast, we quickly tidied up and prepared the deck to set off from Cowes. As the wind picked up, we had our first dose of speed as we hit 9.52 knots! After expertly putting up the Mizzen and Genoa, we quickly learnt that these would need to be pulled in tight to keep control of the boat in high winds.

Suddenly a storm set in! With wind, rain and sea water whipping our faces, we decided to pull the sails in to keep control of the boat. With poor visibility we kept our wits about us as we motored into Portsmouth.

After coming alongside, we then completed our end of week cleaning duties, ready for leaving tomorrow. Sad!​

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