Sir, Your Accommodation For The Week!
So after the madness of preparing for my first week of sailing training which wasn’t helped by a 70hr work week just to make sure everything was covered on site while I was away, I took a half day on Friday and with my massively overfilled rucksack I made the 2hr trip from London Waterloo to end of line Portsmouth Harbour station. The sun was shining my spirits were high and with my £3.30 return ticket I made the short passenger ferry trip across the harbour to Gosport. Once on the other side, it’s a short couple of hundred meters walk to the Clipper training office located inside the gates of Endeavor Quay. Upon arrival at Clipper reception I was warmly greeted by the the Clipper staff, some of whom I have already been in contact with through email over the past few weeks. There were plenty of people knocking around most of whom I imagined were trainees just like me but it was hard to tell, it kind of felt like the first day of school all over again, no one really knew each other and for me especially this whole thing was going to be a completely new experience and I had no idea what to expect. Of course my first thought was that everyone already knew what they were going to be doing but after a bit of small talk with the others it was clear that most of us were in the same boat, it was reassuring! So Quentin who would be our skipper then introduced himself and started to call out the names of those who would be crewing together for the week. After a few more formalities and some paper work Quentin led the group of 8 to our accommodation for the week, boat no. CV3, a 68 foot clipper race yacht which was one of old fleet most recently used in the 2011-12 round the world race!
Once we arrived at the boat we were greeted by 1st mate Kees (Case) who had been a circumnavigator on the 2013/14 race and 2nd mate Oliver who would be assisting Quentin with training and looking after us for the week. So with our bags on board (did I mention my bag was over packed, well thankfully it wasn’t the only one, all I’ll say is luckily we weren’t flying Ryanair), introductions and formalities taken care of we all sat down to dinner, a good serving of Spaghetti Bolognese which skipper had prepared as a welcome gesture but as I found out you’d be a fool to think it was going to be like that every evening, cooking duty fell to a different crew member every day i.e. whoever was on mother watch that particular day! With such great weather we had dinner on deck which was a nice way to start the week and as is customary everyone gave a little summary about themselves which is also a nice way to get to know the crew. Following dinner we got straight into a safety briefing and at that point training had officially begun, no turning back now! In saying that though we did end up going to the local pub for a few sociables which is also customary and helps to break the ice.
Early morning starts were the order of the day and the first two were spent moored up in the marina, as I found out there’s a lot more to sailing than just heading out on the water. At every safety briefing you we get introduced to yet another aspect of life on a boat and we are expected to have an understanding of everything that goes with it:
- Orientation of the sailing area
- General safety above and below decks
- Winch safety
- Rope safety
- Personal equipment
- Safety equipment above and below decks
- Domestic duties on-board
- Distress situations
Getting to know your way around boat, learning every nook and cranny, knowing where to find and operate all safety equipment as well knowing and understanding all the sailing terminology and standard operating procedures is critical for safety on board with MOB (man overboard) procedures being possibly the most instilled of all lessons. Added to the already overwhelming stream of information we were also expected to brush up on our knot tying, crew duties, safety checks and finally the debrief by skipper every evening where he gives an overview of the day’s activities, crew progress and deals with any issues, questions or concerns from the crew, just like family time around the dinner table really!
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