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Easter Holiday Adventure, Stavros S Niarchos 798, 16-25yrs

Sunday 16 – Saturday 22 April 

Entry Five

10 hours……We sailed for 10 hours. That’s a long time to be at sea! Luckily we only experienced a little rain when leaving Campbeltown and after that we carried on with a clear day. Unfortunately the wind was against us and we were only able to set two headsails. We went up the east side of Arran into the Firth of Clyde. On the way to our anchorage at Holy Loch we passed a submarine from Faslane Submarine Base. It was escorted by Royal Navy and Police patrol boats and special forces in RIBs. Everyone came on deck to see the submarine and take photographs of it. Then we turned into Holy Loch and went to our anchorage. I was on the helm for 40 minutes, steering the ship to its overnight destination. That was one of my proudest achievements on this voyage, steering the ship to anchor.

After evening meal of BBQ chicken and rice followed by pineapple crumble and custard, we had another two inter-watch challenges. First we all gathered in the waist for the “boat race” which doesn’t involve real boats but was great fun. Then Youth Mentor Kevin gave us a quiz to do. Some of us worked on the track chart which includes a record of some of the funny moments of the voyage. We had so many that there wasn’t enough space on the A4 sheet to include them all. It just shows how amazing this experience has been for all the voyage crew.

Now Emma is showing Youth Mentor Kevin and Lewis, where the Wirral is in relation to Liverpool. She insists that she really isn’t a Scouser!

One more day to go!!!

Bex Hodge (White Watch)

Entry Four

The day commenced as always with the daily ‘wake up’ call from our favourite Chief Officer, Jill. Half seven was the time and was soon followed by breakfast, which was served to you as soon as you sat down in the Mess. Nothing better than being greeted with bacon and egg in the morning. This was followed by the most contrasting activity to the bacon and egg, this being “happy hour”, which was not being happy at all, yet we did it with a smile on our faces anyway. Today it was time for the “green mile” to be cleaned. Walls, floors and ceilings had to be polished clean, to the standards of the Watch Leaders, who are rarely mentioned for reasons known only by the Watch.

No time for rest, as it was the first shift on watch and time to weigh anchor and “set sail” again. By that I mean turn the engines on. After a fairly uneventful watch, with only a ferry and a few birds spotted, “bracing stations” was called as the yards had to be braced sharp up to port as we would be berthing “starboard to”. This involved “hauling” (pulling) the designated “lines” (ropes) on the starboard side, while the opposite lines on the port side were eased.

After this, normal watch duties were resumed and soon enough we were going to the berth in Campbeltown. Captain Liam guided us in, assertively making clear what he wanted to happen, as there was very little margin for error.

With berthing completed, it was decided that there would be an inter-watch competition involving rowing the long liners. This brought more laughs from the officers on-board than metres being made rowing. In the end a small route was decided with White watch going first. They completed the course, which was an achievement in itself. Then Blue Watch followed and smashed the course in record time. Olivia (Blue Watch Leader) was on the verge of tears as she clearly did not enjoy the experience.

Tea (Evening meal) followed which was a lovely feast with pork chops potatoes and green beans followed by apple strudel. Perfection……the only word for it. Now there was time for the crew to venture ashore where we stopped off at Tesco to collect essentials or in Catherine’s case, more crisps. Fish and chips shortly followed before returning to the ship. A game or two of Uno with Youth Mentors Mike and Kevin and that was to be the end of the day.

Ben Martin (Blue Watch)

Entry Three

Part of the Scout Law is “a Scout is to have courage in all difficulties” or something along those lines. Today, I felt that I could relate to that, when I climbed the rigging and out onto the Lower Topsail Yard. Higher than I have been so far. We went aloft to put the sail “in its gear”. I held on tight to the yard at first and struggled to get used to the height but when I settled down, I felt proud that I had pushed myself a little further.

Then it was White Watch to the Bridge and I was able to steer the ship out of Lamlash Bay, where we had been at anchor overnight. When we reached the open sea, we set two of the sails at the front of the ship but before we could do this, some of us had to go onto the bowsprit to untie the sails.

We sailed around Ailsa Craig, a rocky island at the entrance to the Firth of Clyde, before turning north. Then we were able to set the Fore Lower Topsail, which I had helped to prepare earlier. The engines were turned off and we sailed through the afternoon. I spent time trying to persuade some of the crew to ‘dab’ and there was a surprising variety of different styles but Chief Officer Jill wasn’t having any of it.

Late in the afternoon, the engines started and a group were sent aloft to stow the Fore Lower Topsail and others helped hand the two headsails and stow them. We arrived at our overnight anchorage at Loch Ranza off the north west of the Isle of Arran around 20:30.

After a few of us played a card game, Dobble, with FAP Saskia and Youth Mentor Mike, we all gathered in the Mess and I played the Ukulele and we sang old songs by the Beatles and some other old classics. Then we were entertained by Stephen and his wild stories about a monster from the deep who visited the ship at night and took people from their cabins into the sea and ate them. He even used a white board and marker pens to draw the monster, he called Dogzilla.

After everyone stopped laughing at Stephen’s tales, it was time for bed. We were all tired and below deck fell silent very quickly……for a change.

Bex Hodge (White Watch)

Entry Two

The words that sum up the one thing that I am most proud of so far on this voyage…”Up and Over”!  We were challenged this morning to climb the rigging to the first platform. As I climbed up the Jacob’s Ladder to reach the platform, I was very nervous but I kept going and made it up there. My Scout Leader told me I had to push myself and get to the first platform, despite my fears and I am glad that I listened to him and did just that.

The next task was working aloft, which meant going up to the first yard, the Coarse Yard and learning how to break out and stow the square sails. I didn’t go aloft on this occasion because the sea sickness tablets that I had taken were making me feel a bit drowsy.

Now it was time to leave Greenock and get taste of being at sea. We had to practice bracing the yards and with only a small number of crew on-board, this exercise took some time to complete. Hauling on the lines caused a blister or two.

Then it was my Watch on the Bridge and a turn at helming the ship for real as we sailed down the Firth of Clyde. The weather was nice and the view of the mountains in the distance was very picturesque. The evening meal was roast chicken dinner followed by rhubarb crumble and custard.

We arrived at Lamlash Bay off the Isle of Arran and anchored there for the night. Captain Liam gave us a talk about buoys and what to look out for when on watch on the Bridge. Afterwards, we had some chill out time before bed and I had a good discussion with Youth Mentor Kevin, about time management and the education system. Kevin is Head Teacher at the School attended by some of the other voyage crew. I wish he was my Head Teacher.

It’s my Dad’s Birthday…..so there’s only one appropriate way to sign off….. Happy Birthday Dad!

Bex Hodge (White Watch)

Entry One

Once everyone had arrived at the ship in Greenock, we were called to the Mess, to meet the Captain and the rest of the crew. This was followed by lots of training. Firstly, about living on-board (which included essential instructions about how to use the Heads….that’s what they call toilets on a ship). Then we learned about safety on-board, including a fire drill, a general emergency drill including putting on life jackets and man overboard. Training about the actual sailing of the ship then took place, with Bosun Kim explaining about seamanship, which involved learning how to handle the lines or ropes, quickly followed by instruction on helming the ship, basically steering it.

We were issued with waterproof jackets and trousers, along with harnesses for climbing the rigging and after a quick try on to make sure the sizes were correct, we put our kit on the watch pegs we had been allocated. Then it was time for our evening meal of chilli con carne and rice followed by peach sponge and custard.

After enjoying our meal, Youth Mentors Mike and Kevin, got us playing a memory game, followed by a numbers and letters quiz and a music quiz. Then it was time to get showers and get ready for bed.

Cookie James (Blue Watch)