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xf171023 splash wiltshire Challenger 3

Mon 23 – Fri 28 October

Entry Five

With the excitement of last night and our night sailing expedition, the realisation hit most of us that we were going home today. So the mood was slightly jaded as we dragged ourselves out of bed (without the engine wake up call) and started to assemble all our belongings and cram them back in our bags (which were a lot smaller than we remember from Monday when we unpacked).

After breakfast, we started the seemingly arduous task of cleaning the boat from top to bottom, kitchen surfaces were scrubbed, heads were cleaned, decks were mopped, floors were swept and even the ceiling got a good dusting. On further inspection of the bedrooms, quite a few items were unearthed in the boys side. These all turned out to belong to Justin, except a lone sock of Jack’s. In the end Sarah (aka Challenger 3) looked positively glowing after we were done with her.

Then we all had our individual crew member feedback sessions with Rory and Dave, where they told us how amazing we were and how much we had changed and grown over the week. Monkey then gave out our Tall Ships crew t-shirts which we all modelled, almost like supermodels on a runway.

To complete the Boat Murder game Becky, Jack and Scarlett were finally dispatched, which left Jess the one and only surviver of the newly named ‘Murder in the Solent’.

We then welcomed Nigel Halkes from the Hugo Halkes trust onboard, as a way to show our appreciation we decided the best thing would be to sing him some songs from Wicked, Les Miserables and a Harry Potter song. I think he enjoyed them? We then had a prize giving ceremony on the pontoon where we each were presented with our RYA Start Yachting certificates by Nigel. Levi won a trophy for the most improved crew member. Sharon and Rachel say that this is because when the voyage started on Monday he wouldn’t leave the cockpit or stop gripping onto the winch when the boat was moving, and at the end of the week he has climbed to the top of the spinnaker pole out over the sea, looking out at the Needles.

We said good bye to Nigel, it was nice to have met him and say thank you, as without his generosity, we would not have been able to come on this voyage. We left the marina, having thanked Monkey, Rory and Dave for an amazing time and waved goodbye to Challenger 3 before we trundled our bags back through Gunwharf Quays.

One slight hitch in our otherwise flawless plan was when we got back to the minibus and found that the battery was flat. But it did give us some time to write the blog, so a small silver lining. After a quick call to the AA we waited for Glynn to arrive and give us a jump start us and send us on our way back to Wiltshire. Several hours and a few traffic jams later we were all safely delivered back to our families waiting arms.

In the words of Frank Sinatra, “And now, the end is near; And so I face the final curtain…….”

Thanks for the memories!

Entry Four 

Ten very weary sailors awoke his morning, plus some equally tired staff. But a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast perked us right up. We left Poole early (having had to wait for Rachel to get back from the shops with ingredients for dinner) and motored our way out of the harbour with Justin at the helm for the first time. We were followed but the super yacht (that was moored behind us last night) going out for a test drive. We then put up the main sail and made our way slowly towards the Isle of Wight, with a distinct lack of wind today.

On the way w e put up a spinnaker pole, over the side of the boat (like walking the plank) and proceeded to climb the wires up to it and attempt to touch the end. It was quite scary going out over the moving water, but the majority of us found the courage to do it at least once, if not twice.

We continued to sail, edging closer to the needles so the backdrops for photos became much more imaginative, with people trying to look like they were standing on the cliff tops and other silly things. Before long we passed Challenger 1 (Ona) & Challenger 2 (William) on their way out of the Solent and down to the Canary Islands (before going over to the Caribbean for the winter).

We took down the spinnaker pole and put the sails away for the last time, which included lining up and lying under them, like a big warm blanket we didn’t want to leave when the job was done. We found ourselves a nice spot to anchor near to Osbourne House and surprisingly the Tenacity of Bolton moored up next to us, by this point the chocolate brownies were ready, still warm and gooey from the oven so we scoffed them down in seconds.

We were tested on our knot tying ability, our team (Starboard) were doing well to begin with but we had structural issues with the clove hitch and in the end Port won 4-2. But no one really cared as we got to eat all the strawberry laces we had been tying knots in!

After we watched the sun go down, we set about making dinner, which was a lovely chicken korma with all the trimmings (rice, naan, poppadoms and lots of mango chutney). Whilst this tasted great there were a few tears shed during preparation, so much so that Becky resorted to wearing goggles to lessen the effects. This was followed by the cakes and chocolate mousses we won yesterday. The winnings from our dingy race couldn’t have tasted better!

Our final team test was to plan and sail a night navigation route. Port watch had the first 5 buoys on the route and starboard has the last 5 to navigate around getting our headings and cardinal markers sorted on the charts seemed easy, but was harder to put into practice, though everyone navigates and the steered a section of the route. When not doing that we were sing Harry Potter themed songs or feeling a bit sad that the voyage was nearly over and we had to go home tomorrow. But mostly the thought of cleaning the boat top to bottom isn’t that appealing!

We returned to Portsmouth, but sat on deck on the ride in watching lots of different firework displays light up the night sky, such a view we had! And now to we off to bed for the final time.

Entry Three 

We started the day with a mountain of bacon, and warm fresh baked rolls. After stuffing them to the brim (apart from Becky who doesn’t like bread!) and munching them we got the day really going with a dingy race. We were challenged by the Sea Cadets from two boats who had moored next door to us last night, they were very positive of their rowing prowess, but we “kicked butt” and won the race, mostly because they got distracted in a water fight and mascot hostage situation (poor Shrek!). So as winners we were rewarded with chocolate moose and two large Victoria sponge cakes from the other boats. During this we have learnt how to row a boat using oars (and mops, brushes and planks of wood which were necessary for the purposes of the competition, but they aren’t very effective as paddles, specifically in the case of the mop).

Since the tide was against us and the weather had changed from being misty and grey to sunny and clear we decided to climb the mast. First up was Harry who nearly made it to the first spreader before deciding that it “wasn’t safe!”. Jess went next and zoomed up to the top in a record time. Becky was determined to get to the first spreader, but surprised everyone by going all, the way to the top. Both Tom and Jack made it to and stood on the first spreader, Tom was very nervous about this, but with lots of encouragement from the rest of us got there in their end. Harry had another attempt and got there too.

We went out of Yarmouth and put up the main sail, the yankee (number 2) and the stay sail and headed towards Poole. It was a bit choppy at points and quite a few of us felt a bit sea sick, but no one was actually sick, so we haven’t blemished our perfect record.

We had a nice lunch of chicken strips, salad and sauces in wraps. In the afternoon we did the man over board drill and managed to save Felix the Fender after his dramatic and traumatic fall into the sea aka being launched in by a careless crew member! We blame Dave.

We made some chocolate chip cookies (the second batch had a Nutella filling, yummy!) and shared them with the rest of the crew. We will be making some more tomorrow as this was the majority of people’s favourite part of the day. By now we had reached Old Harry Rocks, so it was time to take down all the sails and motor into Poole harbour. We passed and some of the most expensive looking houses (per square metre) in the UK!

After docking in the harbour, behind a very expensive yacht, we took our first and most eagerly anticipated trip to Tesco (well Becky was very excited about it), where we bought some sweets (closely monitored by the leaders), before tucking into our dinner of fish and chips.

Comic moments came frequently today, mostly from Jess and her ‘sitting down with style’ during some of the more bumpy parts of the voyage.

But the phrases of the day came from Harry: “Am l on the boat?” and “Where am l going to sleep tonight?” surprisingly the answer to the latter was “in the same place as the last two nights” pretty much in unison from the majority of the people around the table.

Entry Two

We had an uneventful night, moored in Cowes marina, apart from the continual snoring from the girls cabin, that sounded like a sleeping bag zipper opening (continually) which bemused the leaders completely. This was resolved in the morning when the culprit was revealed – Louise!!

After a delightful breakfast (thank you Starboard watch) we set about getting the boat ready for the day, this involved lugging heavy sheets (ropes!), fenders and sails onto the deck. It was definitely an “arms” day in the “gym”. We left Cowes and motored out into the Solent to put the sails up and sailed up to Southampton. The weather wasn’t particularly agreeable at all (mostly windy and foggy), so the boat was leaning quite a lot, all of the time. This meant that lots of us felt sick (but no one threw up!) or fell over things on the deck (but not overboard as we haven’t practiced rescuing them yet).

We had a lovely “on the go” lunch of pasta and garlic bread (but we left a few of the garlic baguettes in the oven, so we will be having them for breakfast??).

After the horizon completely disappeared and a ferry came blaring out of the fog with its horn on full blast, we decided that we were in a horror movie. It was then that Monkey reminded us of the Boat Murder game we had started that morning. More details on that later.

We spent the afternoon learning how to tack the boat as we zig zagged our way to Yarmouth. When not tacking a few brave souls spent some more time re-enacting Titanic, but we sang songs from Moana, Les Miserables and Frozen (“Let it go” specifically) at the top of our voices to every passing boat. The waves made fools of Scarlet, Jack and Louise giving them an impromptu shower, several times. This also woke Alisha up, several times, the rocking of the boat was obviously very soothing to her!

We feasted on a dinner of pork chops, mashed potato’s and veggies. Scarlet felt upset when she was usurped from her mashed potato mashing duties. Though Jess wouldn’t eat her “mini trees” aka broccoli, which she was surprising proud of!

Entry One

During the course of the coach ride, Harry decided that eating lots of popping candy would be a fun thing to try- he soon regretted it. Whilst Alishya was talking about McNuggets for the majority of the journey. We have no idea why!

Once we had arrived on the boat, we had a briefing from Monkey, to which Harry asked where the seatbelts where, and then proceeded to ask ‘When will it stop rocking?’ The boat did tend to rock a lot. After we were briefed, and given our respective watches, we began to take the boat out of Portsmouth marina, after having had to wait for the Navy Type 45 destroyer to leave. We were taught different the features of the boat, and also how to remain safe on board. Tom was pleased at learning the difference between port and starboard, as we all did. Port, is left. Starboard, is right.

Once we had began to sail the boat the inevitable fate of Titanic moments occurred. Several members of the group stood at the bow of the boat, forming poses that resembled Jack and Rose. Up near the bow there was several near misses over the wires and since the ride was slightly bumpy, they were often jilted about, nearly falling over, but everyone was clipped on so no man over board situations ensued. During this trip to Cowes, Justin decided to take a little nap on deck. One of the slight issues, was that the sea spray that continued to get us in the face. As journey came to an end, and we pulled back into the dock, the subject of Peppa Pig somehow came about. Rachel began explaining that we do don’t park the boat, to which Becky quoted, “ You park a car, but you mooooooooooor a boat” from Peppa Pig. The two of them then had a small argument about whether it was Peppa or Grandpa Pig that said this. As we grew closer to the dock, Jess and Alishya claimed that they could smell hot donuts nearby, and seemed utterly disappointed when they lost the scent.

When we finally had a better chance to settle on the boat we discovered that, although there were slightly claustrophobic sleeping conditions, the beds were unexpectedly quite comfortable. It was after we were settled, that we sat down around the table. Becky had decided to bring her lunch with her, and suddenly the vultures came. We all shared out Becky’s Pringles, Mints and Chocolate Fingers, we even had some of her fruit. After we had gorged ourselves on our friends food, we then sat down to have a lesson on parts of the boat and the syllabus.

Port watch had the pleasure of cooking dinner, which was the strong favourite amongst the group of ‘chicken fajitas’ and it was quickly finished (including the offending vegetables – onions and peppers!) with not a morsel of cheese remaining. We have spent the rest of our evening playing uno, so far Rachel 2, Sharon 1, Louise 1 and coming last is Dave (who may have had to pick up 12 cards in one turn).