This is a bit difficult as I don’t know where to start, as so much happened in the course of a few days, but I will try to whittle it down as much as possible without missing the important points.
- Overcoming my fear of heights which was a real battle for me. I was okay in Belfast Dock when we were practicing putting the sails out and gathering them in. But when at sea it was a different scenario, especially with the wind and choppiness of the sea. I still managed okay and was quite pleased with myself overall. There came a point later on in the voyage I couldn’t wait to get up the yards, which indicated how much my confidence had grown.
- It has to be the battle with seasickness. I was given sturogen travel pills by a Junction colleague before leaving Edinburgh, thank goodness...! I would never have managed without them. Even trying to keep my head and stomach together while eating a meal was a challenge in itself.
- The storm and gales were nothing like I’ve experienced on a ship or boat, ever. Some of the full/part time crew hadn’t sailed through a force 10 gale. When I was lying in my bunk one night TRYING to sleep, I seriously thought the ship was going to go over.( I even had a wee chat with our lord ). Being on watch on the bridge through the night was very challenging, trying to lookout for hazards and stay awake while bracing the storms and gales.
- The physical demands on the upper limbs was quite demanding when pulling ropes as I’m not used to manual labour anymore. But I was very much up for the challenge
- Meeting people from all over the U.K. from different corners of society was great and very much the social element for me.
- The whole sailing experience with the sails out was fantastic. I was one of the lucky crew who got to sail the ship with sails out and engines off.
- The food was excellent, and all fresh. I lost nearly a stone with simply eating a balanced diet with no beer and junk food. I felt physically fit and well simply because of the duties on deck. It was better than the gym.
- Overcoming my head for heights
- Paul our watch leader was brilliant and very encouraging at all times. The other leader Reg who shared our watch sometimes was also very informative. I admired their experience and leadership qualities.
- Meeting a young man from Belfast onboard was an extraordinary experience. I won’t detail his issues, but I ended up with my youth worker hat on, I found it really rewarding to interact with him. And I’m still in contact.
Missed the family.
Overall, the whole trip was an unforgettable experience. I’ve been pining to go on the tall ship adventure for a while now, because the timing has never been right work and domestic wise. I have to say that the voyage was an absolute blast. Even with all the weather problems we had to sail through, I would do the whole thing again. Many thanks to the Rank Foundation for making it Possible. I wasn’t on a buddying voyage, but felt I made a difference to some of the crew through interactions and conversation.