William Jammeh

I am writing to report on my tall ship adventure on the Tall Ships Youth Trust brig, the Stavros Niarchos as I have now completed my journey. After boarding the ship on the 15th August my colleagues and I were split into three watches and were trained in knots, sails, harnesses and safety equipment before trying a climb up the mast. The ship left Swansea the next day and as soon as we hit the open sea, which was pretty rough, with waves as high as the sides of the ship, many people came down with sea sickness. Fortunately I was okay but my watch leader then hit her head off the side of the boat and had to be taken off in what was quite a dramatic rescue at sea. A helicopter and lifeboat were sent in to evacuate her but the masts prevented the helicopter from operating safely and, in the end, she was taken off in the lifeboat and then went to hospital. Shortly after that the size of the swell and my watch leader’s well-being made the Captain decide to head for Tenby and dock there for the night.
Fortunately my watch leader, Sue, was able to come back on board the next day although she had two big black eyes. Following that the ship sailed to Waterford in Ireland and then Cork where we were able to have shore leave. In Cork new volunteers and crew came on board and most of the young people who I had started with left to return home by air. I would have left there too but had opted to stay on for the return journey. The last port the Stavros visited in Ireland was Cobh, formerly known as Queenstown, which is where the last passengers joined the Titanic on its fateful voyage.
Following that I was lucky enough to sail to Alderney, one of the Channel Islands, and then Cherbourg in France where, once again we had shore leave on what proved to be a scorching day. The next port of call was Teignmouth in Devon and lots of little boats came out from the harbour there to welcome the tall ship in to port and everyone on the beach and in the harbour was waving to us all. I felt like royalty. The harbour master waived the fees for docking there as a goodwill gesture and the Mayor of the town came on board to welcome us. We also made the newspapers and the TV news there.
From there we visited Swanage before our final destination, Portsmouth. This was the last voyage of the Stavros Niarchos under the ownership of the Tall Ships Youth Trust as it’s now up for sale. I would recommend my trip to anyone interested – it was unbelievable and I loved seeing dolphins swimming alongside the boat, the Milky Way and, shooting stars while we were far from light pollution.
I mucked in and carried out all the duties expected of me including mess duties, fixing sails and I learned lots of knots, climbed up the mast and was able to use the safety gear. I also learned how to play the ukele and had a few on board sing-songs. In Portsmouth a sea shanty band came to entertain us before we disembarked the next day. The only downside of the trip was that with very little wind the ship was unable to sail as much as we would have liked and we had to use the engine quite a bit. The upside was that I discovered I have an excellent constitution for sailing. I am very grateful to Langholm Initiative’s ‘Building a Future for Eskdale’ project, the Holywood Trust, the Tall Ships Youth Trust and the Bowman Little Trust for supporting me to realise my dream to sail on board a tall ship.

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