HQAC OYT Sailing Trip 2015 - Sunday 2nd August - Sunday 9th August
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By Cadet Flight Sergeant Emma Thompson - 2008 (Bawtry) Squadron
Sunday saw 11 cadets, five of whom were from North Region, along with 2 staff members meet up in Glasgow, after travelling from their homes by train. Some people spent over 10 hours travelling from their home town. The cadets were given a quick brief of what was expected of them during the week and what they should expect once aboard the boat.
Cadet Warrant Officer Jessica Grainger from 2487 (Easingwold) Squadron said 'As we settled down in our comfy beds in the Premier Inn, provided for by Headquarters Air Cadets, we were all imagining what the week would have in store for us as none of us had experienced anything like this before.'
On Monday the cadets travelled from Glasgow by train to the sunny seaside town of Oban. After experiencing fantastic fish and chips they climbed on board Alba Venturer to set sail. The first day was plain sailing and as they began to leave civilisation, a lot of the cadets were wondering what they had got themselves into, after being briefed on all the different parts of the boat, along with which rope to pull when and experiencing massive information overload. The crew soon learnt the ropes and were managing the different sails as they sailed around the western isles of Scotland. The crew managed to tackle the weather and sail 20 miles from Oban to Tobermory, experiencing great excitement as the coloured houses first came into view.
Cadet Warrant Officer Emily Simister from 2527 (Lawnswood) Squadron said 'Although I am a little tired, I feel like I have accomplished a lot more than I would on my first day on the boat.'
Tuesday saw the crew storm bound at Tobermory. Instead of allowing the weather to dampen their mood, the cadets took advantage of the time that was available and learnt about different aspects of sailing theory that would help them to gain their competent crew qualification. The cadets learnt about the points of sail, different parts of the boat along with the theory of how to rescue a 'man over board,' as well as practicing how to row a dinghy and tie the knots that they would need to use throughout the week. Once all of the hard work was complete it was time to explore the coastal town of Tobermory, where one member of the group suddenly realised it looked like 'Balamory', visiting the souvenir shops and buying ice creams as well as a new boat mascot called 'Rosie'. Once back on board a few cadets enjoyed watching a Royal Navy Sea King practicing manoeuvres and a rescue with a local Lifeboat.
Cadet Sergeant Sam Boswell from 2213 (Rumney) Squadron said 'I was thrilled to discover we had landed at Balamory!'
Wednesday was an early start for all and after a quick breakfast the team soon set sail on what would be their first full day sailing, not really knowing what to expect. They navigated the Minch across to a beautiful island called Barra. The journey was definitely eventful, being the crew's first experience of real open water, which made its mark on most of the cadets, but saw them all battle through.
Cadet Sergeant Sean Mooney from 80 (Bolton) Squadron said 'A Dolphin sighting certainly cheered up the majority and helped take away the feeling of sea sickness for a few.' To help sum up the day Cadet Flight Sergeant Lewis Boyd from 875 (Westhill) Squadron added 'Dolphins! Wait, pass the bucket!'
Setting sail from Barra on Thursday, after a tour of a lifeboat, saw the cadets in high spirits and ready to continue learning how to sail the beautiful Alba Venturer. On the way to the island of Coll there was more wildlife sightings including a claim of seeing a Basking Shark. Due to arriving early, the crew were allowed some time ashore finding a taste of the local culture through organic food and drinks.
Friday was by far the longest day of the week, but came with some amazing sailing conditions. The highlight of the day for the sea staff in particular was getting the cruising chute hoisted along with the mizzen staysail, earning Alba Venturer a compliment over the radio from a Scandinavian ship. The rare sighting of a Minke Whale provided great excitement for all, even making one cadet jump off the helm to get a good view. Due to the unpredictable tides, the crew ended up at a practical standstill for a few hours, although all cadets kept a positive attitude and enjoyed the beautiful weather. As night fell the team experienced the most magical feeling as the clouds drifted apart leaving a stunning view of the stars.
Cadet Flight Sergeant Emma Thompson from 2008 (Bawtry) Squadron said 'Friday really saw the teams' efforts come to fruition as one team were able to put a reef in the mizzen without any guidance from the sea staff'.
Cadet Flight Sergeant Andrew Mabbutt from 422 (Corby) Squadron added 'Friday was easily the best day of the trip with regard to sailing. We were an efficient enough team to truly appreciate the environment that we were in'.
The reality of sailing back to Oban, to travel home, hit hard on Saturday morning as the team left Ardfern. Navigating through the Tarren rocks caused some great intensity, however gave the cadets a real opportunity to demonstrate the skills that had been developing throughout the week. Once back at Kerrera, the crew started the longest and hardest clean-up of the week. One watch was tasked with putting away the sails, coiling the ropes and cleaning the deck as the other watch cleaned every inch of the boat below decks. The showers ashore were well deserved after this and were gratefully received by all, being the first shower of the week. Once everything and everyone was squeaky clean it was time to unwind on the final evening with all on board. The games allowed the team to enjoy themselves and resulted in a lot of laughter and avocado mess. Lights out came a bit too soon, but allowed the bedtime story to be completed even though most fell asleep before it was finished.
Cadet Sergeant Jessica Doherty from 317 (Failsworth and Newton Heath) Squadron said 'Saturday was a brilliant end to a fantastic week of sailing despite the huge clean up at the end'.
To sum up the week Pilot Officer Charlotte Hughes said 'Despite the weather at the beginning of the week the team managed to sail a very respectable 225 nautical miles during the trip. The cadets on board were a real credit to the Corps. and were all true ambassadors for the Air Cadet Organisation. All cadets put in incredible amounts of effort at all times, showing exceptional teamwork and determination.'
For more information please visit the Squadron website