Discovery Sailing Weekend

The Discovery Sailing Weekend was originally suggested by Jan Doole after she met the coordinator Clive Fisher at a sailing event. Having set up the weekend, Jan then went off on her round the world tour, leaving our Group Scout Leader, Ian, to lead the weekend.

Eight scouts took part in the weekend, plus Ian; this was the maximum that the boat can hold (plus up to three experienced crew members). We had a great mix of both older and younger scouts, none of which had much experience of sailing.

Friday 20th June 2008

The majority of us met at the Scout Hut on Friday afternoon to drive down to the River Hamble (Kirsten and Brendan were making their own way down later that evening).

The journey down was particularly long as the M25 was slow moving al the way round with Friday evening traffic. At least the boredom was relieved by the Scouts telling jokes for the much of the journey!

On arrival at the sailing base, we found the Discovery Project headquarters and were introduced to Carol, our skipper for the weekend. The first task was fitting ourselves with the necessary oilskins (or ‘Oilies’ as they are known). Although this was fine for most for the scouts, the smallest oilskins were still too large for the youngest scouts creating great amusement for those who had found ones that fitted.

We then went down to the boatyard, remembering the code for the jetty gate and out onto the jetty to the boat, the Discovery. Some of the scouts were surprised at how small the boat was (I think they were expecting the Victory!) but this was soon forgotten as they were given the tour of the boat by Carol and important decisions such as who was sleeping in which cabin and what food was on the menu for the weekend were investigated. The tour included instruction on how everything worked on the boat, from the cooker through to the toilets; great emphasis being placed on the importance of using the shore toilets when available!

The last two activities that night were the most important; splitting the Scouts into two watches of four each and getting instruction on how Carol liked her tea. The watch decision was easily made, with the scouts deciding on girls vs. boys with Ian and Charlotte made watch leaders.

The last two scouts arrived at about 10.30, having had even worse traffic than us (despite leaving much later), and after a hot drink, it was time to settle down for the night.

Saturday 21st June 2008

It was an early start on Saturday morning as the three youngest scouts were up at just gone six with the excitement (this didn't please Carol who wanted to lie in until 6:45!). The boys watch were on duty for cooking breakfast (bacon, eggs, beans and mushrooms) whiel the girls watch got on with getting the boat ready for departure such as rigging the sails, under the supervision of the mate, Gerhard, who arrived with the dawn. After breakfast (which was actually very well cooked) we cleared up and then had the safety briefing for the voyage. The briefing included the need for the Scouts to remain strapped to the boat using their safety harnesses and life jackets at all times which seemed a little strange when moored up in calm water but soon became obvious why once out on at sea.

Using the motor, we cruised down the River Hamble, down into Southamton Sound and then into the Solent itself. The the motor could be cut and the sails hoisted. What a difference! The only sound was the noise of the sea rushing past the hull but we were soon gaining speed.

Once out in the Solent, the water was considerably rougher which was hardly noticable out on deck but could be really felt inside the boat without any external references. It wasn't long before both Emily and Maddie who were sitting in the cabin were complaining of sea sickness, Maddie in particular looking extremely pale. However, getting them both out on deck and putting Maddie behind the wheel soon got them both feeling much better.

Although the weather was overcast, there was a strong wnid blowing and it was a perfect day for sailing. However the wind was blowing from the West, where we wanted to go, and so we had to cross the Solent several times to make our way along the Isle of Wight. The morning was therefore spent sailing backwards and forwards across the Solent and practising the man overboard drill (using a fender as the body - this certainly got their interest). It was decided that preparing and eating lunch on the go was just not going to be feasible with the motion in the cabin so we pulled into Newton Creek and moored up for sandwiches (prepared by the girls watch).

For the afternoon we continued to work our way westwards along the coast of the Isle of Wight. Everybody had a go at using the helm while the rest of the crew tended to lie around on deck waiting for the next call to duty. Whenever we tacked, most of the crew had to get involved in reseting the sails and tidying the lines away, but inbetween they could lie back, enjoying the fresh air and catching up on sleep, while keeping a good lookout for other boats at the same time, of course.

We pulled into our destination, Yarmouth, late afternoon and were allowed to dock on the actual quayside (rigthnext to the car ferry terminal) rather than have to moor out on one of the jetties. This meant we raised considerable interest from waiting passengers watching us moor up, very interested in who we were and how such a young crew were able to look after the boat. Some of the more elderly watchers were particualrly concerned over this! Once all the mooring lines were correctly in place (allowing for the quite large tidal rise and fall at the dock), the girls watch got on with preparnig dinner while the boys tidied the boat and then took the opportunity to visit the town (i.e. go and buy some sweets!).

Dinner was superb: sweet and sour chicken, potatoes and veg, eaten on deck on a beautiful summers evening in the port. After the washing up (boys turn!), we decided to go and visit the beach despite it being almost 9 o’clock in the evening. The Scouts enjoyed throwing stones, paddling (!!) and hide & seek before the darkness and the rain (the only real rain we had all weekend apart from at night) forced us to return to the boat. For some of the younger scouts, being allowed to go to the beach so late was a fantastic experience and really brought home to them that Scouts was considerably different with more freedom than Cubs.

After a night time drink out on deck, the younger scouts went to bed, while the elder scouts enjoyed a few games of cards on deck, listening to the karaoke from the pub across the road before finally going to bed at about 11 o'clock.

Saturday night was a bit more disturbed tah Friday night, as it was far more noisy; the fenders tended to squeak as the boat moved with the tide against the dockside, the rain was drumming on the deck and various people had to use our boat to cross over to reach theirs when moored up next to us, considerably later than we had gone to bed. An overriding memory of that night would be Brendan getting up at 1:30 to use the toilet and waking most of us up with his determined pumping out! Unfortunately, he also left the tap running (and therefore the noisy electric pump as well) so Ian had to get out of bed to turn it off.

Sunday 22nd June 2008

Breakfast was cooked by the girls (sausages, eggs, tomatoes) and then we set of back to the River Hamble. This time the weather was perfect sailing weather, a strong wind and no clouds, even the wind was behind us so we shot along with just the jib sail. The scouts on the helm today were concentrating on getting the most speed out of the boat possible. Carol also took the opportunity to explain some of the rules and procedures such as keeping well clear of the container boats coming out of Southampton. Everybody was clearly more tired and many of the scouts took the opportunity to nap on deck.

All too soon we were turning into the River Hamble and motoring into the dockside.

Our last meal was in the hands of the boys (pasties and beans) again eaten on deck in the brilliant sunshine and then it was time to clean the boat down. Not the Scouts favourite task but one they dutifully got on with putting the sails and ropes away, dusting down the beds, cleaning the toilets and kitchen and sweeping out everywhere. Once this was done, it was back to the cars where Freddie’s parents had come down to meet us. Thanks you’s were said to Carol and Gerhard and then the long journey home (much quicker than going!)

The weekend was a fantastic experience for everyone despite the hard work. The Scouts learned a lot of independence and team work and I’m sure we will be back in future years.

Thank you to the Discovery Sailing Project.