Sat 7 – Sat 15 April
After some early starts for some, all 8 of us arrived at Portsmouth Harbour for midday. It’s safe to say that none of us are light packers so we worked up quite a sweat dragging our bags along the pontoon before even reaching the boat. At the end of the pontoon lied a humble, blue boat that we would learn to call home for the next seven days; Tenacity of Bolton. We climbed aboard and were given the tour of the boat and met in the saloon. The saloon of Tenacity of Bolton has quite a character, complete with a stereo that played some absolute classics and a fold out table that is a pain to get out of, but it was cosy, ours for the week and we loved it. We were kindly provided lunch by Neil and Sam and were delighted that the lunch included scotch eggs and cocktail sausages; we’re very easily pleased it seems. Afterwards, we motored to Cowes where we would be staying for the first night. At Cowes we had some much needed warm showers and played a few heated rounds of Irish snap on the deck of the boat. Izzi G seemed to be the ‘weakest link’ at the game and came away with many fingernail marks on her hand. Unlucky. We then had supper in the saloon, again kindly provided by Neil and Sam and after we decided to see what kind of nightlife Cowes had to offer. The verdict? Not much. We ventured over to East Cowes making use of the floating bridge which went across the water. When in East Cowes we made a trip to Sainsbury’s and stocked up on the sailing essentials; crème eggs and twister ice lollies. We went back over the floating bridge and settled down in Tenacity of Bolton for our first night with thoughts of what was to come and fears of whether we’d fall out of our top bunks. And so the adventure begins…
After getting ourselves accustomed to life in the boat and we were acquainted with our sea-legs, we had breakfast, ready for a day on the sea. Maybe we would be lucky enough to get a bit of wind and get our sails up? Unfortunately it turned out that there was absolutely no wind. It was still and quiet in The Solent until the motor went on and the silence was broken. Not more than an hour into our first trip on Tenacity of Bolton, we stumbled upon a small problem. We found ourselves on a boat with complete engine failure.
A sense of seriousness washed over all of us, knowing that this was not something that could be fixed just like ‘that’. Neil ran downstairs and took his jacket off. We learnt earlier that this meant that he was feeling a bit stressed. The floorboards came up, exposing the bare engine and various pipes that led to one thing or another, confirming the degree of the problem that we had. Once Neil diagnosed the problem as something that he could not fix whilst in The Solent, he radioed for the RNLI. Everyone bar Sam found themselves with mixed emotions of anxiousness and excitement. In the meantime, Freja and Alysia had not thought about the situation that they had found themselves in, as the forefront of their mind was to provide everyone on the boat a cup of tea, because after all, tea solves EVERYTHING.
It so turned out that the boat that the RNLI were sending out was the boat used for big boats that find themselves in trouble in The Channel, ironic, it seemed as Tenacity of Bolton was not big by any means and we were definitely not in The Channel, we hadn’t gone ‘that’ wrong (yet). All that was left to do for anyone who couldn’t lend a hand without getting in the way, was to sit and wait for rescue. After about thirty minutes of waiting we spotted a large black blob on the horizon, speeding towards us and we understood this as the RNLI. Elated that our prayers had been answered we all began to dance and sing, before realising that there was perhaps a time and a place for such things, because after all, we still had a broken boat. As the blob got a lot larger and closer we forgot anxiety and everyone was excited. Because, at the end of the day, how many people can say that they had been rescued by the RNLI, and it would be a story for the parents.
As the obnoxious orange RNLI boat pulled up against Tenacity the crew had to crane their necks to see the top of the boat, Neil, Sam and the crew members of the RNLI exchanged a few words and we were soon being towed behind the boat. The RNLI boat brought us into Yarmouth Harbour. An exhausting day.
Another momentous moment to note and definitely not forgotten would be that our very own, on boat sensei of sailing, Olivia Jacklin was christened with the nickname, BIG GUNS. So called because of her incomparable ability to single-handedly pull in a 20 tonne boat.
We have spent the day in the Yarmouth while the Neil and Sam tried to fix the engine after the events of the day before. We started the day with a hearty bowl of porridge with banana to help lift our sprits on what was looking like a rather soggy. To pass the time we set of on an adventure to the needles. We took the scenic route of the coastal path passing though Fort Victoria and many beaches. Having got to the needles the geography people of the crew were having a field day being able to explain all the different landforms. We were even able to witness slumping and mass movement as well as stacks and stumps. Once, at the needles we were able to enjoy our homemade wraps. A few us walked down to the beach and were able to see longs shore in action! Once back in Yarmouth we soon discovered that despite Neil and Sam sailing prowess they had been unable to fix the engine. So a crew from Portsmouth sailed over the Tall Ship’s cat. So for the rest of the coming week we have a new home
The day began with an early start as we prepared to depart Yarmouth Harbour on the new handsome boat ‘Alfonso’. With navigation planned last night we began motoring towards Weymouth, after an hour or so the wind picked up and we were able to put the sails up and continue the voyage sailing. However as we approached St. Albans Head the waves became very choppy and the boat began to rock significantly. The decision was made to take down the sails, this challenge led to Freya and Alysia nearly taking a dip in the sea as well as Izzi G having to clip onto the bow, while Sophie squared eased the rope. We soon arrived in Weymouth where we went to Asda to buy supplies for the next few days and for our seaside fish and chip meal on the boat. We finished the day with a trip into town for an ice cream and a game of Cluedo.
The day started off with everyone in high spirits. The weather was looking good and sunny and the thought of a barbeque on the beach later kept everyone in a good mood, despite the thought of not being able to go to the toilet for another 24 hours, even though there was a toilet on board it seemed that everyone would try and avoid it if they were to have the choice. We left Weymouth Harbour at about midday because Sam and Neil took us through the RYA Competent Crew book ensuring that we understood that we did have to learn some stuff before Chas comes on Friday, including the MOB (Man Overboard) procedure and we also learnt a bit more about tides and being aware of them when planning to moor. We had been sailing for about an hour and a half; all the time learning about the nearby landscapes including the caves and the Mile Marker poles in the cliff face, and yet again the geographers within the crew were having yet another field day. After a lunch of jacket potatoes and various toppings Neil spotted Challenger 3 (another of Tallship’s boats). Going slightly off course, we headed towards them to give them a bit of a wave. After this small detour, everyone retreated to the rear deck where Sam was waiting to teach us some more knots that we had to learn, Single and Double Sheet Bend, Rolling Hitch, Round turn and two half hitches to name a few, a few of us felt as though our brains were going to explode with all of the new things we had to learn being thrown at us. By the end of our half an hour knot session Sam was getting slightly agitated with our incapability to tie ‘simple knots’. We then retired back to the deck head to continue with our sunbathing, needless to say we all ended the day with more rosy cheeks than we began the day with. We finally arrived at Swanage at about four o’clock after Sam and Neil had several failed attempts of mooring, costing Sam his dignity, his shoes and half of a boat hook. We sat patiently waiting to board the dingy to head ashore onto the beach. Loaded up with carrier bags upon carrier bags full of barbeque food stuffs. In the first dingy there was Alysia, Freja, Freya, Portia, Olivia and Sam, all started well despite a few splashes which were expected. Arriving at the shore Olivia was nominated to jump out of the boat first and pull it ashore onto the beach, looking back, this was probably where it all started to go wrong. The boat was placed at such an angle that every wave that came ashore would go into the boat, thus soaking all crew members. Then accepting her fate Alysia decided to step out of the dingy, only she got a bit stuck and continued to promptly fall into the sea, soaking herself up to her armpits with sea water. Alysia however, was not the only one to get wet, both Freja and Freya were completely drenched. On a plus, the hotdogs and burgers were delicious, if a bit sandy. We then proceeded to get back on the dingy so that it would take us back to the boat for the evening.