SSN 826 Tower Hamlets

Wed 20 – Wed 27 September

Entry Four

In the morning we had the usual ‘happy hour’, after all the Watches were called to the Waist and divided into groups to go aloft or onto the Bowsprit to break out sails. We loosened the upper and lower topsails on the fore mast and the lower topsail on the mainmast. Then the outer jib and fore topmast staysail were prepared.

Around lunchtime the anchor was raised and we left our overnight anchorage near Hastings. It wasn’t long before there was more work to do. The sails that had been prepared earlier were set which involved a lot of ‘two six heave’, after which the engines were turned off and we under sail.

The weather was warm and sunny but with only gentle wind, progress was slow. Late in the afternoon, we had another of the inter-watch competitions called the ‘boat race’, which doesn’t actually involve any real boats. It was good fun and each Watch cheered on its team members. Once again Blue Watch won. This seems to be a trend.

After evening meal, the night watches began and those people on Midnight until 4am and 4am tom 8am, were encouraged to go to bed and get some sleep. It was a long and cool night.

Red Watch 16 – Basit Ahmed

Entry Three

Once breakfast and ‘happy hour’ was over, we heaved anchor and headed out of the Thames Estuary. The weather was warm and sunny but the wind direction was not favourable and so we needed the engines to make our way. We sailed around the coast of Kent and into the busy shipping lanes in the English Channel and both England and France were in view.

Fore and aft sails were set and those who did not like climbing aloft, enjoyed going out onto the bowsprit to break out sails. After much heaving on lines the outer jib, fore topmast staysail and main topmast stay sail were set.

During the afternoon, we had a lesson from Captain Liam about shapes, bouys and lights. Then, in turn, each Watch was able to go in small groups out onto the bowsprit, supervised by Deck Hand Tom and Youth Mentor Mike.

After the evening meal, the Ship’s Shop was opened and later we had another quiz from Youth Mentor Mike, as part of the inter-watch challenge. So far Blue Watch are winning every round. Late in the evening the anchor was dropped so that we could stop close to Hastings.

Blue Watch 4 – Naomi Ellwood

Entry Two 

After breakfast and ‘happy hour’, we had a safety talk about climbing the rigging from Bosun Kim. Then we did the ‘up and over’ which is climbing the rigging to the platform, up one side of the ship and down the other. Almost everybody managed to do it. This was followed by working aloft. Another briefing from Bosun Kim and then most people went aloft onto the course yard, which is the lowest, on both masts. We learned how to break out, or untie, the square sail and then stow it, or pack it away again, including re-tying it to the yard.

Once lunch was over, the ship was prepared to leave the dock. The ship turned around and headed into a lock before moving out into the River Thames and head downstream. We passed the o2 arena, Thames Barrier, Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Samiha Begun (Blue Watch 3) was first of the voyage crew to take the helm and steer the ship along the river passed Gravesend and Tilbury (where we saw another tall ship, STS Lord Nelson).

It’s a very long way downstream towards the Thames Estuary and by early evening, we reached Southend and we dropped anchor. This is where the ship stayed overnight after watching a spectacular sunset. Youth Mentor Mike, organised two quizzes, on general knowledge and one music, both of which were won by Blue Watch.

BLUE WATCH 5 – Josie-Leigh Thomas

Entry One 

Students from four different Tower Hamlets Schools arrived at the Stavros around lunchtime. We met some of the crew and were split into three groups or Watches. Our Watch Leaders showed us to our cabins and we carried our bags down to our accommodation for the week ahead. We had brought lunch with us and sat in the mess room to eat it.

Then we had a meeting in the mess and were introduced to the Captain and the rest of his crew. Afterwards we had to line up to sign onto the voyage with the Captain. Everyone was issued with a safety harness to wear when climbing in the rigging and waterproof clothing to wear when sailing in wet weather. Then we started training for the voyage and learned about steering the ship (helmsmanship) and handling the ropes (seamanship). This was followed by safety training including a general emergency drill where we had to put on life jackets.

WHITE WATCH 2 – Ishraq Islam