Day One – Sunday 3rd July
Steph (Red Watch)
We piled out of the taxi to find a massive boat with millions of ropes and ladders. Unpacking was a nightmare, not much room and a lot of stuff. We signed on with the captain with our passports etc. And had our harnesses fitted. Everyone was friendly and welcoming whereas I thought everyone might be shy and independent.
One of our first tasks was t have our photos taken in our HSBC hoodies and caps. We were photographed both as a crew and in our school groups.
I learnt during training that starboard means right, port means left, bracing means pulling on ropes and when one person shouts 2,6 the rest of us shout heave. After learning the ropes and how to put everything in place we had our tea. Pork, roast potatoes, peas and carrots.
Day Two – Monday 4th July
Eleanor (Red Watch)
We started our real voyage today as the watches, dayworkers, messmen and the ship were launched. As I am in red watch and person number 2 I was messman today. This meant that my wake-up call was at 6am – too early!! Especially after arriving back at the ship at 10.30pm last night and munching on chocolate digestives until 11.45! Apart from that though the job of messman was really good plus I got on well with the two messmen from blue and white watch.
After having served breakfast and cleaned up and sterilised the plates, cutlery, bowls etc. We started our training. It’s so tiring! Its a really good experience though learning to brace (pulling on ropes to change the direction of the sails) and yelling 2,6 heave! Climbing the masts and untying sails was fun but scary and helming (steering the ship) which is quite relaxing compared to the other jobs.
Learning all the sailing things is quite tricky, there’s the classic port and starboard but why do we shout “2,6” when heaving, “well” for stopping or call the place where we eat the “mess”? It’s a steep learning curve for us all.
Once we set sail from Newcastle the excitement really began, speeding out to sea, people watching in awe of the magnificent Stavros S Niarchos, it was just so cool! Although sea sickness was really bad for many people including me, in a way, it brought people closer together. Hopefully we all overcome the sickness and enjoy the rest of the voyage. I know the rest of the voyage is going to be fantastic!
Day Three – Tuesday 5th July
Michael (Blue Watch)
Compared to most days on the vessel, day 3 would be considered a breeze. The journey through the night brought us to Bass Rock, a seagull reserve looking no more than a white rock (guess you can figure that one out). We travelled further north and sailed into Leith, passing through the lock and into the dock. We arrived at the lock early so did a few quick turns before entering the lock. A humongous ship was also to be allowed into the lock so it was a right squeeze.
Day Four – Wednesday 6th July
Andrea (Red Watch)
I woke up at 3am as I was assigned to harbour watch with another girl Sarah. It was very cold so we covered ourselves with layers, thermals and any other warm items that we could find. Our harbour watch was only meant to last an hour but the next people didn’t turn up until 4.30am so by this time we were really tired.
A few hours later we were woken up by the usual speaker voice announcing second breakfast. After breakfast red watch had to clean their watch cabins during “happy hour”. After this all the watch participated in a fun activity which lightened all our moods. We all took part in a rowing race which was timed so of course we were all in a competitive mood for winning. I was in a long liner with three other team mates from red watch and our watch leader Emma. We practiced on the way to the start and then raced back to the Stavros. We were then all sent to the mess for the announcement of results and fortunately red watch won so we were all very happy with ourselves.
After lunch we had shore leave and looked around the Ocean Terminal shopping centre which was a two minute walk from the ship. This gave us a chance to stock up on snacks etc. We then left Leith and set sail for the sea. Red watch had to go on watch and help bracing from 6-8pm. By this time it was raining so it was difficult to get a grip on the wet ropes. After watch we all disappeared to our watch cabins to sleep ready for the next day.
Day Five – Thursday 7th July
We left Leith and set a course for anywhere. Not even the Captain knew where we were going so we just headed south. Before long the sea began to get rough and nearly half the crew were suffering with sea sickness. We were moving against the wind so the sails were down and the engines were on. I decided that the best thing to do was sleep as much as I could without being on watch or eating!!
I had to work the 12-4am watch which was annoying as I had barely slept the day before and all I wanted to do was finish and have a cigarette but I had to stay on watch for another 40 minutes. I finally finished but my lighter was broke so I was in a bad mood for most of the day but I finally found one. Overall with the wind, rain and rough sea it was a hard day for the whole crew but once the ship was anchored, moods were lightened and everybody was ready for another day.
Once docked the ship was braced before starting an inter watch tug of war competition which was won by Blue watch, putting us first (we is well hard). We were then granted shore leave, where most of the voyage crew descended on Asda, entertainment being provided by some of the voyage crew trying to understand the locals and work out whether Scottish notes were “real”.
Day Six – Friday 8th July
Rayner (White Watch)
Today I had the opportunity to take to the bow sprit. I felt nervous at first but as I clipped on with my harness the confidence grew! I started to walk along the wire to untie the knots that were holding the flying jib. I moved further along releasing the knots until the final one was released, giving me both an excited and relieved feeling that I could get to safe ground where both of my feet could touch the solid floor. This for me was an amazing experience because there are no restrictions apart from the safety of the harness and the wind in my hair.
Day Eight – Sunday 10th July
David (Blue Watch)
After and exciting few hours which most people slept through unless they were awoken by neighbouring cabins belongings sliding through and making crashing noises, blue watch went on watch and the view was astounding. The sun rose magnificently and the skyline was fantastic mixture of clear blue sky mixeded with yellow and pink finished up by the calming rippling of the sea. Needless to say if we weren’t helming or on lookout we were asleep fairly soon.
The post breakfast jobs were happy hour as always followed by stowing sails that had been handed but not stowed the previous night. Fairly soon we had docked by 1300h and the locals couldn’t help by look on in awe at the might Stavros. Next we go shore leave and after 30minutes of searching for some tacky novelty items we headed to the beach for some fun in the sun.
The beach was absolutely fantastic and fairly soon we had got everyone in the sea whether they had wanted to or not! As our body temperatures started to decrease we quickly left the watch and enjoyed the heat for the Dutch sunshine, taking photos of “buried people” and human pyramids!
Soon we headed back to the ship for food, knowledge, a shower and a knot race which blue watch won. In the evening we got more shore leave and headed back to the beach. We soon realised that is was too bold to swim so watched the sunset on the beach. At about 2130h the town lights reflected in the quiet but rippling waves. The other side of this incredible view was the sin just past the horizon and the moonlight rippling across the waves.
We headed back to the ship and on the way back stopped at a fish and chip shop and tried a variety of interesting foods such as deep friend battered shrimp with garlic sauce and something else, the name of which I still don’t know but it was delicious. After a sandy day we hit the showers and tried to get rid of the beach but it was in vain as the next day I was still finding sand in my ears!
Day Seven – Saturday 9th July
Sarah (Red Watch)
Our day started early, we were up at midnight to go on watch until 0400h. We took it in turns to be lookout and helm; the skies were so clear we go to see some shooting stars.
After we came off watch we went back to bed for a few hours until breakfast and then we set some sails later on in the morning. As with most mornings we had a happy hour and a morning meeting with the captain. Throughout the day we had another watch and a small amount of time off until dinner. In the later afternoon we had an inter-watch competition. For the inter-watch competition we had a “boat race” that involved us winding up a line of rope with our boats attached, but unfortunately red watch came second. We had all decorated our boats before the race; red watch had made theirs into a rowing boat.
Our last watch for the day was from 2000h till midnight. The weather was ok to begin with and we watched the sunset for the evening. This didn’t take long though and the sun dropped below the horizon leaving a brilliant red glow for a few minutes. Just before 2100h it started raining and we could see the surround sky starting to have small flashes of lightening, we had got caught in a storm. The wind picked up and it started raining more. As we where on full sail we started healing over a considerable amount and it was a little scary initially. This wasn’t as good as it meant we had to get all the sails down as fast as we could as the wind was too strong.
The whole of our watch and some people from other watches were going round the ship trying to help and get all the sails down. It wasn’t until just before midnight that we finally finished everything and had completed handing sails and tidying the decks. We all found it really exciting afterwards and where talking about it all the next morning.
Tuesday 12th July – Day 10
Steph (Red Watch)
This morning we had watch from midnight until 4am. I was too tired because the boys were so loud in our cabin so I fell asleep in my sleeping bag. I also had to practise my knots for my competent crew test.
We had happy hour (again) and had to clean all the walls and floors of the cabins. We set the lower sails for the main mast as well and stowed the headsails, inner and outer jib.
Later on we climbed the rigging to the course yard so that I could try to get up there for the first time as I wanted to be aloft for passing through Tower Bridge tomorrow. It was really high and quite scary for me but Helen talked me round and I had also promised my watch leader Emma that I would do it.
The first four days of the trip were really hard for me but now I don’t want to go home, I’ll be coming back!!!!
The Best Bits
Gina (Blue Watch)
I can’t possible describe the feeling between the individuals in Blue watch today, knowing that this is our final day together. I know I have made so many friends that I will keep in touch with long after this voyage has ended.
So anyway, on with the highlights – for me the day our watch really hit it off was toward the beginning when we sat in the mess playing Uno until midnight. Never has such laughter been the product of a card game but somehow we turned it into something so hysterical that we lay awake laughing that night.
One day I found a free sample of waxing strips in a magazine so the girls pinned down a few male “volunteers” from our watch and waxed away – there is a video of it that will be making it to Facebook very soon!!
I feel so proud that our watch has managed to pull together as a team and still have an amazing time. Even in the pouring rain at two am we have laughed and drank tea and talked of super lamb bananas and La Machine (apparently a Liverpool thing) and played paranoia.
Thank you to everyone on board and in Blue Watch for making this the single most amazing experience of my life – I will never forget it!!