Other pupils taking part were Hugo Morgan, Brendan Parsons, Dan Lo, Toby Thomas, Hector Kaye and Tiger Vechamamontien.
Above left: Hector Kaye and Brendan Parsons at the helm; centre: the author, Ed Chamberlain; right: heeling round the Isle of Wight
It was the first time I had ever been yacht sailing, despite doing years of dinghy sailing, and it was nowhere near what I anticipated! What I had been expecting was for people to sit around whilst one person helms the boat, and for it to be rather boring. How wrong I was. There was always something to do: lookouts to avoid the huge ships, yachts and mooring buoys, sail handling, navigating, preparing food, and everything else associated with watchkeeping. All that, at the same time as huge fifteen foot swell* pushing the boat from side to side and force seven* gusts sweeping across the boat. It was one of the most awesome times I have ever had.
The night sailing on day 1 was a maze of different flashing lights and pitch black water. The following day we went sailing around the Isle of Wight, starting at Gosport, past Bembridge and round the south, clockwise. It was an experience I will never forget. The early start, despite beginning with the lightest wind of the day, still managed to wake the whole crew up within an hour of sailing. But then, within three hours of setting off, merely going below deck was an achievement in itself – the waves caused the boat to toss suddenly from side to side, throwing you all across the cabins. But then, as we hit the west side of the island we had far calmer and more peaceful seas, and we eventually rounded the Needles and anchored in Alum Bay for lunch. Tacking up the West Solent was a lot of fun, getting spray-soaked on the foredeck. Something about a big boat heeling is very different to a dinghy heeling over.
Then, overnight at Cowes and back to Gosport the next day finished a tiring but thoroughly enjoyable trip. Thanks to Mr Kaye and Mr Tim Osborne for helping, and Mr Lapage for organising/skippering it.
*Skipper’s comment: may have been a bit less than that!