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Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1)

Tall Ship Experience Blog by Anthony Austin and Martin Hall

Above- The Gulden Leeuw- our ship!! Source- http://www.stijlvolhout.nl

24/05 Today was spent packing, sorting last minute arrangements and travelling to Northern Ireland. Company gave us half a day off to help us time-wise to prepare for the trip. At 16:45 a taxi picked me, Stephen Baker and Anthony Austin up to take us to Liverpool Albert Docks, where we met up with Jim Graves who helped organise the trip. He set up the charity 'Mast' (Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust). Another charity involved in organising the trip in Ireland was the 'Sail Training Ireland' charity. Jim allowed us to leave our bags on a Tall Ship moored in Albert Docks so we could go and get something to eat before meeting up with the Sellafield site based apprentices and 3 individuals from Liverpool at Birkenhead harbour. Jim gave us a lift to the harbour as it was quite a ways to carry our bags. He handed everyone a sailor's book that we would need to get signed off by the permanent crew on the tall ship to show the various things we had covered. From here, Jim stayed in Liverpool and we all got on a ferry to Belfast at 22:30. 1 of 12 Sellafield Ltd

Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1)

25/05 After a long night on the ferry, we arrived at Belfast at 06:00. From here, we were picked up by a minibus which took all of us to the ship so that we could see it for the first time. The ship was called the 'Gulden Leeuw', which we were later told was Dutch and translated to 'Golden Lion'. It was very impressive. It was moored next to the Belfast Odyssey Arena. We were able to get some breakfast whilst nearby the ship, and helped transfer the components of the bunk beds into the sleeping area. We waited in the area until 11:00, when we were picked up by a bus to go camping for a few days in a campsite in Castlewellan called 'Tollymore Park'. We were allowed to leave any kit that we wouldn't need for camping on the ship in a cabin below deck. On the bus to the campsite, we met extra members of the trainees who would be joining us on the voyage. They consisted of people from all over Northern Ireland who were brought together by the charity 'Sail Training Ireland'. It took about an hour to get to the campsite, and when we got there we waited in the sun for the rest of the trainees who were coming together to join us Republic of Ireland. Once these people got to us, it brought the group to a grand total of 42. The group were aged 18 - 27. We then all worked together to put the tents up and then got into groups (as in who went in which tent). That evening was more of a chill out session once the tents and groups were organised. This was good because everyone who had travelled up from Liverpool were tired as nobody slept much on the ferry. The leaders who were in charge of organising the events for the week cooked us a barbeque, whilst we took part in ice-breaker activities such as rounders and football. Afterwards, we split into 2 groups- one group washed up whilst the other collected fire wood. That night, people sat round the fire before going to bed.

26/05 This morning, we all woke up after quite a good sleep. We had breakfast at 08:00 and were ready to go at 09:00 for the day's plans. We were told that we were going on a trek for the day and would be out until late afternoon. Before going on the hike, we all were asked to write our expectations and worries of the trip on post-it notes, which were put on a board and discussed. We all took part in a team building activity in which one member of each of the 3 groups had to cross 20ft of rope held above as quickly as possible. We went trekking in the 'Mourne Mountains', which took the time up to about 16:00. We finished earlier than we thought we would. It wasn't a particularly long hike, but it lasted a few hours and was good fun. We had split into 2 groups- only people with the correct gear could climb the mountain. All of the Risley-based apprentices were able to. Lots of us had never been to Ireland before and we noticed that a few things were slightly different in the countryside. There were a lot more tales of wolves and other wild animals being loose for example- this was to do with the history on laws changing later on in Ireland about keeping wild animals as pets.

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Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1)

Above- the group of us who made it to the highest point of the walk.

Above- Anthony Austin on our way up.

Above- Me at the highest point of the hike looking over the reservoir. We relaxed at the campsite for a couple of hours, and then got ready to go out to Newcastle to get some tea. It was about a 45 minute walk from the campsite. We all split up and ended up staying out quite late in Newcastle. Half of us ended up in a pub called 'Quinn's' and the other half went to a place called 'The Anchor Bar'. From here, we got taxis back to the campsite and got a campfire going with the firewood we had collected earlier. Most of us were in bed at a fairly reasonable hour as we had all had quite a big day.

27/05 Today we packed up on the campsite, working together to take all of the tents down and cleaning up so that we didn't leave the place a mess. Until last night, the weather had been very hot and sunny. This morning the wind was extremely strong and it was pouring with rain. A lot of people's tents had flooded so spirits were slightly lower than the previous days. However, it didn't take long to pack up and by 12:00 the weather had improved and there was no more rain. We then got on buses back to the ship which was still moored by the Odyssey Arena. Nobody except the group of us who'd travelled from Liverpool had seen the ship yet so they were impressed when 3 of 12 Sellafield Ltd

Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1) they saw it. The size of the vessel seemed to surprise everyone- we had been told the figures for the size of the boat but we hadn't really appreciated it. We spent all day sorting out on the ship- this included meeting the permanent crew, having a tour of the ship and generally preparing for the voyage. This included assembling the bunks where we'd be sleeping and putting our bags below deck, making lunch in the kitchen, unpacking our bags and sorting out shift groups. The 42 of us were split into 4 groups, and each day the 24 hours would be split into six 4 hour shifts. We also made a rota for which group was preparing breakfast, lunch or dinner each day. For the kitchen rota, groups were split in half- half the group would prepare the meal and the other half would clean the dishes afterwards. All learners were split into groups separating the Sellafield apprentices, but this didn't matter as we had all quickly gotten to know each other during camping. At 20:30, we set off. The atmosphere was great- everybody was in high spirits and there was music played as we left the port. We anchored at about 22:00 2 miles outside of the entrance to Belfast port as we were going to set sail the next morning. This meant that watches began that evening but we only had to have half the group on watch for 2 hours and half for the other 2 of the 4 hour shift since we only had to do anchor watch. From here out there was permanently a watch on duty. Whilst anchored the watch was required to monitor the radar and monitor other ship movements. In addition ensure the ship didn't drift too close to shore. The winds were very calm though so this was unlikely to happen.

28/05 At 08:30, a watch group prepared breakfast and at about 09:30 we set sail for the first time. This meant all hands on deck, and everybody had to work with the permanent crew to hoist the sails. We had to turn the ship around to face out of the harbour as the wind had made us drift and face back into the harbour. This meant first hoisting the flying jib sail, outer jib, inner jib and fore topmast staysail. Once we had turned most of the way we hoisted the main sail and began our voyage out of the harbour and into the open sea. Hoisting the main sail required two separate groups of deck hands to pull the ropes to hoist the "peak" and the "clue" in order to raise the sail. Additionally the sheet was released allowing the sail to be manoeuvred into the correct orientation to gybe (move forwards with the wind). Watch group 1 were on watch from 16:00 - 20:00 that afternoon and watch group 2 were on watch 20:00 - 0:00 that evening. Each watch consisted of 1 navigator, 2 lookouts, 1 helmsman, 1 watch leader, 1 deck leader and the rest deck hands. During our shift (watch group 2), we had to do a number of things. I was one of the 'deck hands', and we had to take the flying jib down and then tie it up. This meant that I got to go out on the boom right to the very end. We were there for about half an hour while we tied the sail down, then folded it up and left it tied down on the net. This was a good experience, and luckily the weather was fairly warm so we didn't even get cold. It was strange being out over the water in the dark. Dinner was served at about 18:00. It was fish wrapped in bacon in a lemon sauce. This sounded nice but when it came very few people enjoyed it- the fish was very bony and the lemon sauce was not the best. 4 of 12 Sellafield Ltd

Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1) The weather started getting rough later in the night towards the end of watch group 2's shift. Quite a few people couldn't sleep, and some were starting to feel a bit rough.

29/05 In the early hours of the morning today, all hands on deck was announced but not over the tannoy, so only the people who weren't asleep had to go on deck and help. At the time watch group 3 were on watch, and it was about 01:30 in the morning. However, most people were awake as a lot of people couldn't sleep due to the rough weather. The night was quite mad- it seemed calm when you were inside except for the creaks of the ship as it leaned over to one side, but the moment you went out everyone was running around on deck and the sails were flailing noisily in the wind- they were under a lot of tension. The thing that got people nervous was the fact that even the permanent crew were nervous and everything we were doing they wanted us to do twice as fast. All sails had to be taken down- particularly the jib sails and the main sails, as the booms for the jibs and the mast for the main sails were under a lot of stress. It took about 20 minutes to get all of the sails down, which was good going since it was night time, not everybody was up and the wind had made it hard to manage the sails. By the time we'd finished though, everybody was drained but there was relief at the same time. It had been quite worrying and had certainly got everybody's hearts going! Some of watch group 2 (including me, Martin) slept through breakfast in the morning because of the long day yesterday. Those of us who slept through breakfast had to get up to help in the kitchens to clean up as it was our watch group who were on kitchen duty in the morning. Luckily some had got up to prepare it! Although I was under the impression those were mainly the ones who hadn't been up on deck helping when the drama happened last night. We got to the Isle of Man at 12:30 and moored up in Douglas Harbour. Here we were briefed by the captain about what time to be back. This also meant briefing the people who were supposed to be on watch during the 6 hours we were staying. That meant watch group 2 and watch group 3. They decided to split the watch groups in half, as we only needed people to stay by the ship for security whilst everyone else was in Douglas. The first half of group 2 had to stay the first 2 hours, the second half had to do the time 14:30 - 16:30 and half of group 3 had to do the final 2 hours- 16:30 - 18:30. At 18:30, everybody had to be back on board and ready to set off again. Whilst on watch, watch group 2 had the job of cleaning the decks to get all of the salt water off as it is bad for the decks and can erode away metal components. We also had to pick up any litter. At the end of our watch, me and a few others got the opportunity to climb the mast just for the viewKevin, one of the permanent crew members, allowed us to do this. Me and 2 others went up and made it to the very top. One of the other permanent crew members also climbed with us (AmĂŠlie) as she had never had the chance to do it before which I was surprised at. Almost everybody who wasn't on watch left the ship and had lunch in Douglas. This meant nice food and also a chance to stock up on supplies for the ship in case the next few dinners were as bad as yesterday's. It was also a chance for getting souvenirs and games to play on the ship. The practices for the TT festival (motorbike festival) were on at the time too, so there were a lot of stalls on along the coastline and lots of motorbikes on display and driving round.

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Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1)

Above- TT festival beer bottle car.

Above- The Isle of Man coastline in Douglas.

We stayed on engine power until we left harbour, and then it was all hands on deck to hoist the sails and continue on to Dublin. We were told we would not be stopping again until we got there. This evening, dinner was under-cooked rice and curry. The curry was quite nice! Both of our watch groups got to bed as early as we could after dinner as we all had watch shifts in the early hours of the morning. However, it proved difficult to sleep as everybody was quite awake after being on the Isle of Man for the day relaxing and therefore quite loud. The weather also started to take a turn for the worse and the ship began to rock making sleep more difficult as being below deck made sea sickness generally worse.

30/05 This morning, watch 1 were on 0:00 - 04:00 and watch 2 were on 04:00 - 08:00. On the hand over to watch 2 it didn't sound like there was too much to do other than tidying the decks and aligning the fore sails with the stay sails as they were currently resting on them. I (Martin) was deck leader, but I was feeling very rough from when I'd got up and only got worse. I ended up handing over the deck leader position to a girl called Gemma, as I was too ill to continue. I spent the next hour in the toilets, eventually getting to bed and sleeping for a few hours. As the day went on, the weather got better and by 12:00 the sun was out and the sea was calm. There was also baguette for lunch, which raised most people's spirits. After lying in the sun for a couple of hours, people were much happier. From 16:00 - 20:00, watch 1 were working. They had to tighten the preventers for the mainsail to stop them turning too far in either direction in the breeze. Half way through their watch, dinner was ready and unfortunately some of them missed out as they were busy on deck. The dinner that day was quite popular- mashed potato, red cabbage and beef chunks. The fact that it was nice lifted spirits and most people had recovered from sea sickness by this point. Just as the watch ended and group 2 were about to take over, we saw a whale at about 19:45. This was announced by the captain and was on Starboard side. People tried to get pictures, but it was very hard to get any as it came up for a few seconds, then disappeared again and would re-appear somewhere completely different and only for a few seconds each time. It was impressive to see though, and people gave up trying to take pictures in the end!

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Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1) I (Martin) was watch leader for our group's watch that evening 20:00 - 00:00. The watch went smoothly and everyone was quite happy as there wasn't a lot to do. The wind was calm and the deck crew were not required much so we had everybody rotating positions so that everyone got a fair share of work. We got to watch the sun set, which was something worth seeing. Land was coming into view, and there were a lot more ships about so we just had to keep the first officer (one of the permanent crew called Rolant) informed when we saw new ones if they were coming in our direction. We were able to track them on the radar too.

To the left- the view of the sun set as watch group 2 were on that evening.

31/05 Today we got to Dublin at about 14:00. The atmosphere as we got closer to the harbour was very good- music was played again and everyone came out on deck. Another tall ship, a lot smaller than ours, came along side us and fired water balloons at our ship. Whilst we were approaching the harbour, a press crew working for a local paper also came aboard at about 12:00 to interview some of the crew and take pictures. I think they worked for the local paper. In harbour, we met up with other tall ships which had gathered in the area for Dublin River Port Festival too, including the one we saw earlier with the water balloons. We returned fire as someone on board our ship had bought some water balloons on the Isle of Man. However, when we realised we couldn't throw the balloons far enough, we gave up and there ended up being a water balloon fight on deck.

Above- the captain of the ship and the first officer as we came to port in Dublin.

Above- Everybody standing at the side of the ship as we came into port In Dublin.

Once we were moored up, we had to clean the ship. This included cleaning windows, scrubbing the decks to get the salt water off like in the Isle of Man. It also meant cleaning the toilet, sink and shower room below deck which involved completely plastering the whole place with disinfectant and wiping every surface down (Martin had this job), putting the tables away that had been set up 7 of 12 Sellafield Ltd

Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1) for the voyage in the eating area, etc. Some of us worked very hard, while others managed to sneak off to go and explore Dublin for a few hours before dinner at 18:00. We were then given instructions by the captain. We were given 2 choices- either enough people volunteer to do a 'gangway watch' (to ensure nobody climbed on the boat uninvited) on the ship for an hour shift each in pairs, or we'd all have to be back on the ship by 23:00. A lot of people wanted to go out in Dublin this evening, so the second option didn't appeal. Luckily, enough people volunteered to do a watch shift in the night so people were free that evening to do what they wanted, so long as the people on watch were there to do their shifts. We both (Anthony and Martin) volunteered to do one of the final watch shifts from 06:00 - 07:00 the following morning. For dinner, the tables were arranged differently- in a long row going down the ship in the eating area. This made the meal seem more formal, and the food was not as bad as it had been- Chinese, egg fried rice, stew (of some sort), etc. Everyone ate well. Once this was done, everybody worked together to clear up. This meant folding up the tables and cleaning the dishes. That night, a lot of people went out into Dublin and some stayed on the boat as there was some sort of informal awards evening. The night out in Dublin was quite good, but we did notice that almost half of the pubs/clubs only allowed you in if you were over 21, and in some cases over 25 so we didn't get in to some of them. It was a good night though, and the atmosphere in the pubs in Dublin seemed completely different to the atmosphere in the pubs in England- live music was played in almost all of them and they were all a lot busier. We actually preferred it.

01/05 This morning, everybody who had them did their shifts in the early hours up until 08:00. Whilst me and Anthony were on watch, we noticed the Dublin Port River Festival stalls being set up. Once we had finished our watch, we went back to bed to try and get a bit of sleep for a couple of hours before everybody got up to begin getting ready to leave the boat. Once everyone was up, we had to clear the boat and get ready to take all of our belongings to the hostel we would be staying in. We started by packing bags and moving them up on to the top deck, etc. Once all the bags were moved, everyone worked together to take apart the bunks and move the components back into storage. Once the ship was cleaned and everything was back to how it was, we had pictures taken and then we moved our bags off the ship and onto the dock.

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Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1)

Above- All of us on the top deck after having packed our bags. We were told to take our bags to a place called Abraham House on Lower Gardner Street. A few of us got taxis there as it was about a 15 - 20 minute walk and we had to carry all of our stuff, which for some people was almost 20Kg as we'd been told to pack for all weather and for numerous activities so it included camping gear, warm clothing, summer clothing, waterproofs, walking boots, etc. Once we got there it was about 11:30 so we were allowed to leave our bags in a room while we were waiting to be allowed into our actual rooms we'd be staying in for the next 2 nights which would be available at 14:00. A lot of people went to have a look round Dublin while we waited, and some got some food too as we had not had breakfast on the ship that morning and everyone was hungry. The area of Dublin we were in was quite nice- we were a 5 minute walk away from the river Liffey which basically runs straight through the city, and there was plenty of choice of where to eat. I went back to the ship to get my sailors book that Jim Graves had given us in Liverpool signed off as it hadn't been completed yet. One of the permanent crew (Peter - 1st mate) signed it off for me. Most people had already got it signed off before but I hadn't had chance. That afternoon, at about 14:00, we were given keys to get into our rooms. Everybody returned to the hostel and moved their luggage from the room we'd left it all in to their rooms. Most of us then had showers and caught up a bit on sleep. We had been told before that there was kayaking organised on the River Liffey at 17:00 if we wanted to go, but most didn't as they were tired and hungry. Kayaking took place on the river Liffey using two man open top kayaks. Arranged by 'citykayaking', waterproofs were provided although didn't prove to be of much use. The group headed up to temple bar in the centre of Dublin along the river Liffey and then returned to the Gulden Leeuw were they greeted the crew members. 9 of 12 Sellafield Ltd

Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1) While they went kayaking, a few of us went for a meal at a pub/bed and breakfast down the road. It was great as we hadn't really had a proper nice meal the whole time we'd been on the ship. After the meal, we returned to our rooms to sleep for a while before getting ready to go out into Dublin that night. This time everybody was going out, as it was our final night together. We all ended up in one pub for the night, which was an over 21's but we all managed to get in. It was a great night, and everybody had a good laugh. It was a good way to finish the trip.

02/05 Most of us were up at about 10:00, as we had got in quite late from the night out. We had showers, and packed getting to ready to leave the hostel at about 11:00. We all said our goodbye's, and the group who lived in Belfast went on a bus that had been booked for them. The bus for everyone from Liverpool turned up shortly after, and we set off to the terminal at about 11:10. When we got to the terminal we had to wait for about 2 hours as the ferry was only due to leave at 13:30. The ferry journey was much better than the one from Liverpool to Belfast as it was only 2 hours long and it was also a much more comfortable ferry. Most of us had a meal on the ferry in the restaurant as again, we hadn't had chance to get any breakfast today. We arrived at Holyhead at about 15:30, and were able to get off the ferry almost immediately this time. Once we'd collected our luggage, we said our goodbye's to the people from Liverpool and the Sellafield site-based apprentices, and got in a taxi from Charter Auto that was waiting for us to take us to Warrington. What should have been no more than an hour and a half journey lasted 4 hours because of an accident on the A55. However, this didn't really bother us as we mostly slept on the journey home. We were all home for about 18:00 - 18:30.

Conclusion At the end of the trip, all 42 trainees had come together and amazingly on the boat there had been no real disputes (or at least if there were, they were extremely well covered up!). Everybody had gotten along well enough and we all worked great as a team together. Some people got quite emotional in the goodbyes, as a lot of people had formed quite strong bonds with each other. For a lot of people too, this trip had been their first experience of time away from home. People had come from all sorts of backgrounds, and the charities also helped provide funding/bursaries. There were a surprising number of people who had never even been out on a boat before, or even been camping. The trip has most definitely been one of a lifetime, and everybody who went will always remember it. There was not one person who said they regretted going- everyone had an absolutely amazing time. Even the sea sickness was well worth it! The course allowed us to develop a wide range of skills from personal development to sailing competence. Some of these can be transferred over to the working environment. The course has been a key learning point in our progression through the apprenticeship scheme and has allowed us to develop skills that couldn't necessarily be achieved in the normal working environment. For me, it was my first time to Ireland so that was something new too. I think that was the case for a lot of people from England too, so going there was a new experience. I have also made some friends 10 of 12 Sellafield Ltd

Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1) that will last a lifetime- currently, 38 out of the 42 trainees and 2 of the leaders have joined the group set up by a trainee from Dublin called James on Facebook, so we are now all in touch. We are hoping to have a reunion night out in Liverpool at the end of June, and a lot of the people from Ireland have booked their flights already.

Thank you’s I'd like to say a big thank you to the company, in particular Steve Bewsher, Susan Hunter and Sophie Murray for organising the trip. Thank you to Kelly Fulton for organising the trip from Risley's end with transport, etc. Thank you to John Fleming for giving consent for the apprentices to go on the trip in work's time and Gerry Orton for sorting out the insurance for the trip. A big thank you to Jim Graves, the owner of the charity MAST, for organising the trip from England's side and getting our company involved. Thank you to all of the leaders for supporting the trip and making it a good, fun and interesting experience with the activities they planned for us. Thank you to the permanent crew of the Gulden Leeuw for making it an amazing trip and teaching us so much about sailing. I'd like to specifically thank Rolant for teaching us so much about navigation and the steering of the ship. I'd also like to thank Kevin for encouraging us to climb the mast- this was a great experience and the memory of being at the top will last a lifetime. Also thank you to Peter for showing us around the ship and specifically showing us the engine room and explaining everything in there- this was very interesting and the systems were very impressive. Thanks to the captain too for allowing us to live on his ship for 5 days! Thank you to my line manager, Joe Hindley, for also giving me the time away from my desk to go on this trip!

Pictures I have included a few pictures in this blog, but there a lot more pictures online- see the Facebook group 'Sail Training Ireland, Youth Leadership in Action 2013 Voyage'.

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Blog by Martin Hall (watch group 2) and Anthony Austin (watch group 1)

Our Route

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Profile for MAST Charity

Tall ship experience blog  

Tall Ship Experience Blog by Anthony Austin and Martin Hall

Tall ship experience blog  

Tall Ship Experience Blog by Anthony Austin and Martin Hall