Although my own poor health caused me to miss out a day of sailing, I still had a great time learning more about sailing and making some new friends.
After a brief tour of Challenge Wales, everyone got together in the saloon for a cup of tea and we introduced ourselves to each other. As there were just thirteen of us onboard, everyone got a chance to get to know everyone else, which was really nice.
After that, we were away! Everyone had a turn at the helm, which is where the boat is steered from, and we headed from Neyland Marina to Dale, Milford Haven. When we got there we tied the boat up to and then played card games below deck for the rest of the evening. I’d like to say that I won every game, but unfortunately that wouldn’t be terribly honest of me.
Waking up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day at 5:30am, as is typical for teenagers, everyone had breakfast and then worked together to get the boat out on the open sea and heading for Ireland! We also broke down into watches on this day, so one group would be up on deck for four hours while the other slept. I think everyone was very glad of being able to rest, because I was lying about feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.
After a pleasant and uneventful day of sailing, we arrived at Dunmore East, in Ireland! We all got off the boat and wandered around the area for a while, which was rather pleasant. There was a very charming little beach which we wandered down to. There was also a disco going on but it was only for under 15s. I was rather upset, because they were playing one of my favourite songs, Cha Cha Slide. After wandering around the area for a couple of hours, we headed back to Challenge Wales (which is the name of the yacht as well as the charity that owns it) and had a rather lovely dinner of chicken tikka curry.
This was a particularly glorious day because we got to sleep in until 8am! We had bacon butties for breakfast on the move as we headed for Crosshaven, a village in the county of Cork. The wind was very variable on this day: sometimes there would be nothing at all but sometimes we would be tipping over at an angle that the skipper assured us was perfectly safe (though I must say, it isn’t exactly a pleasant experience to turn on a tap and see the water flow almost at a right angle).
When we got to Crosshaven, we finally got to shower! It was a public shower room with individual cubicles, much like at a swimming pool, and it was the most glorious experience I’ve ever had. I was also rather shocked at the number of bruises I’d managed to acquire: I certainly didn’t feel any of them being caused but there were rather a lot of them.
After showering, myself and the other youths of the boat headed back for a quiet evening in. Personally, I was beginning to feel run down by a cough that had begun plaguing me the day before setting out on the water, so I had an early night, and hoped that I’d be able to sleep it off…
I wasn’t able to sleep it off, though I did manage to get a lot of sleep! According to the other people on the boat, I not only slept through the skipper shouting that it was time for everyone to wake up, I also slept through him blasting some dubstep over the speakers. I was the last one to make it out of bed so I got put on washing up duty, but one of the adults quickly realised that I was not in a good way and I got sent back to bed. I must say, sleeping on a boat was a wonderful feeling. It feels like the sea is a giant mother and I am its baby being rocked away to sleep. My friends told me later that I hadn’t missed anything majorly important or revolutionary, so I really chose a good day to be unwell!
When we arrived at Kilmore Quay, I went out into the town with everyone else. There happened to be a seafood festival going on with a live band playing, so we listened to the music for a bit. We found an amazing sweet shop that sold sandwiches where the bread was made out of marshmallows and the filling was also made out of marshmallows. It was quite shocking and revolutionary. They also did brilliant ice cream. My favourite place in Kilmore was called Forlorn Point. It was particularly beautiful and peaceful there. After a while we headed back to the boat and settled in to get some rest before our last day of sailing.
We finally begin heading home to Neyland Marina. During one of the watches today, something very exciting happened: we saw dolphins! They came up next to the boat and swam alongside us for twenty minutes or so, doing leaps and generally showing off. The weather was extremely calm, so we had the yacht’s motor on for most of the day instead of relying on the wind. At lunchtime we anchored the boat near Skomer Island and had some pasta, which was very nice. There were so many puffins flying around, it was rather amazing. There were more birds than people! After that we made our way back to Neyland Marina, said our farewells, and all went our different directions for home.
In all, the experience was simply wonderful. Even the quietest days didn’t quite feel boring as I’d feared they might, because there was so much sea to look at. I would absolutely recommend going on a trip with Challenge Wales because the experience was just so very pleasant. Nobody was mean and everything went very smoothly.
Thanks to CLIConline Reporter emb789 for joining Challenge Wales. The residential voyage above started and finished in Neyland Marina, Pembrokeshire and is one of several residential sail training voyages for groups or individuals aged 16+ taking place this summer on Challenge Wales. For those who are younger than 16 years Challenge Wales day voyages or shorter residential voyages offer a great learning experience for small groups of up to ten people.