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Northern Lights CCF Leg One Sailing trip

12 September 2019

 Northern Lights CCF Leg One Sailing trip

This is a recollection of a trip Samuel was fortunate enough to go on with the Royal Navy CCF

"I arrived at Portsmouth on the 30th of July, the journey was long and the waiting was longer, however, I eventually reached the ‘Bellerophron’ which was a fifty-foot sailing ship with a small outboard motor. She could hold up to sixteen crew, as it happened it was a tight space for only twelve.

Onboard I was introduced to the others who had arrived before me as they lived down in the South who were: Lena, Jack, Tom, Hannah, Hannah, Ruban, Danielle, Vinnie, Louie. We were later split up into two teams of five for watches and expected to make breakfast and dinner one day then lunch the next, with the exception of the two leaders on board (Chris and David). Both were capable commanders even though Chris enjoyed his coffee a little too much, drinking on average fifteen cups a day.

After a disturbed night due to the cramped conditions and the freezer turning on every ten minutes and lasting an hour which kept us awake, we set sail for the Isle of Wight from Portsmouth. The journey was calm so we had to use the engine for most of the journey.  Unfortunately, when going into the Isle of Wight the engine failed, forcing us to harbour at Cowes. The next day we tried to use the motor again, however, this failed when it stopped suddenly forcing us to use the jib. This caused our lunch to fly across the galley into the sleeping area every time we had to jibe. We made anchor in Poole, where we saw a dolphin and we were able to get the small motorised dinghy out for a spin, draining both the batteries. Being in the ribeye allowed us to get very close to the dolphin, it even followed us for a while. After an unsuccessful try at the motor again we sailed to Portland for a second night. On the third day, nothing changed but on the fourth day, we managed to fix the problem and turned on the motor to leave port.

We sailed from Portland and into to Brixton where our filter was changed. In the morning we saw the HMS Queen Elizabeth coming in for repairs. We also watched the Royal Marines go charging past in their armoured speedboat. After a slow start to the morning the wind picked up in the late afternoon and we sailed very rapidly towards Falmouth where we stayed overnight and made preparations for the long journey ahead into Milford Haven.

The crew gathered supplies for both the tea and the sailing up ahead. We were allowed to sleep in the next day and sailed at 8 pm. As it was my team’s turn to cook dinner, we cooked a stew that has been a successful meal for the last few days. (It has been so good the first day we made it that the other team wanted more). After a warming stew, our watch was sent to bed as we had the Night Watch sailing from midnight to 6 in the morning. The night was extremely cold, however, also extremely pretty. Almost every star was out the sky was jam-packed with constellations and all the stars of the Milky Way late at night were visible. We saw the moon set and the sun slowly rise, before long it was the other watch’s turn to sail again from 6am to mid-day.

When we arrived in Milford Haven it was late afternoon we were all very tired and very few people were eager to go into town. Despite this, my watch had to go shopping for the entire crew to make sure that they had their lunch and dinner.

Overall, it was an amazing trip. I was able to gain my Competent Crew certificate but more importantly to make some great friends and sail around some of the most beautiful coastline."

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