Taking part in the Tall Ships Voyage was an incredible experience. It took place from 14th to 18th March this year when eight students from Writhlington went down to Portsmouth and boarded Challenger 3. As well as me, there were three other girls and four boys and they were all really friendly and good company. Two teachers, Mrs Lanning and Mr Whittaker, also came along with us and helped out.
Challenger 3 is a white and blue sailing boat with a length of 72 ft. and a 95ft. mast. The boat is divided in to sections, one of which is called the “Snake Pit” because all the ropes coiled up look like snakes. Another section is the galley where you cook meals. The boat also has three sails and sleeping accommodation of four separate rooms for up to 18 people. When I boarded the boat I was excited and nervous. I think it was the same for the other people.
While I was on the boat I had to do some jobs. The most difficult of these was scrubbing the deck because the boat was so long it took quite some time to complete. In contrast the most enjoyable task was tying the knots in the ropes and sails. I liked this because I learnt it quickly and it was fun to do.
Each day we all cooked our breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we got up at 7.30 am we dressed and then made our breakfast which always consisted of a selection of cereals, toast, porridge and bacon. There were two teams and whoever washed up one day would cook on the next. One of the best meals I cooked was Carbonara and I was really pleased when everyone liked it. I don’t normally cook my own food at home so it was fun and interesting to make the meals on the boat.
The most challenging activity I did was the Man Overboard exercise. Firstly I had to lie on the ground on the quay beside Challenger 3 and then Jasmin Miller clipped me into a harness which was used to pull me up on to the boat. This was done by the adults because the rest of the crew were watching so that they could learn how to do it in the future if they had to. This was particularly challenging because I was the first one to do it and at that stage none of us knew what to do. It was an exciting experience but I was scared at the same time.
Another challenge I completed was climbing up the tall mast to the very top which was equivalent to three normal houses piled up on top of each other. This involved me climbing and being hoisted up 95 feet! When I reached the highest point the view was amazing because I could see everything for miles around me. I was slightly worried I might fall off, but still carried on. Everyone had a go, but only one other student reached the top.
During our time on the boat we sailed to different places such as the Isle of Wight, Poole, Southampton and back to Portsmouth. It was very tiring because we had to put up and hoist very large and heavy sails. I also had the opportunity to steer the boat and on the last night we had to sail in the dark, which was very difficult because we needed to look out for the flashing lights telling us which way to go.
Overall it was a great experience as I have learned new skills and made new friends while working as part of a team. I would recommend taking part in a challenge like this to anyone who is adventurous and doesn’t mind taking risks.