Following on from my first attempt at sailing last year, last weekend I took to the seas again.
I’ve been getting emails from the Tall Ships Youth Trust for a while and keeping a close eye out for a suitable trip. The Trust is a charity which runs sailing trips primarily for young people, but runs adult voyages as well.
The trip I found really appealed because it was a circumnavigation race of the Isle of Wight, which is a bit more adventurous and interesting than other sailing trips. My dad, who has always wanted to sail, came with me.
On Friday we arrived and got settled in on the boat. We were assigned to Challenger 1, the first of the Trust’s four 72 foot Challenger yachts. They have been around the world the wrong way twice and weigh 50 tonnes! We had a tour of the boat and sailed over to Cowes, practicing some sailing manoeuvres (tacking and jibes) before mooring for the night and heading into Cowes for some fish and chips.
It was an early night as the race start the following day was due to be 6 am, which meant getting up at 4am! There’s not much space on board and the beds are narrow cots – difficult to get in and out of and impossible for larger people to sleep on their sides, but not uncomfortable other than that.
I wasn’t great at the sailing because I didn’t have time to really get to grips with what to do when, but I got stuck in! Our skipper, Mike, volunteered me to go out over the side of the boat on a climbing harness attached to a pole holding a sail out to the starboard side. I was happy to oblige! The view of the boat was completely different from 10ft away from the vessel!
Winds were relatively low most of the time so we spent large periods of time sitting around moving very slowly! The circumnavigation is 50 miles and took the whole day to complete. By the end it was clear we weren’t going to improve on our third position and we returned the last short distance under motor because the wind was almost non-existent at that point. We had to be back in good time to make the dinner for all four crews at the Island Sailing Club, which was actually great fun. Our crew of 12 volunteers (with varying experience of sailing), two volunteer watch leaders, and the paid skipper and first mate, were a great bunch with interesting lives.
I had a cracking weekend. I’m really pleased I got to do it and I’ll be looking out for another trip – maybe this time on the Trust’s 200 foot tall ship, the Stavros S. Niarchos.