I’m on the Southampton to Antigua 55 day voyage. I first became interested in sailing when my grandmother gave me the Swallows and Amazons series of books for my eighth birthday, I started sailing a small dingy soon after and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom it gave me. Fast forward to age 15 and I joined a day sail on the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ship Tenacious which I loved, but had to wait for a school holiday after my 16thbirthday before I could join a longer voyage.
Just before New Year 2014 I flew out to Barcelona, had a fantastic week, met lots of great people and couldn’t wait to return, fortunately I didn’t have to wait long. There was a voyage from Malta which coincided with the February half term holiday, we had some fabulous sailing out of Valletta harbour, saw Mount Etna erupt from the berth in Riposta and even managed a day trip to its snow covered slopes. And of course the food on board is always plentiful and tasty.
I then had a bit of a gap in my voyages whilst I focussed on my AS levels and university application – not only did my JST experience give me something special to put on my personal statement but my new sailing friends offered lots of great advice on my application and interviews. The following Christmas I travelled to the Canaries to meet Tenacious in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, we visited four islands including a Christmas Day festival of tall ships in Santa Cruz de La Palma with music and inter-ship fun and games.
Once again I needed to concentrate on my studies – A levels this time, but I was planning a gap year and knew I would get a lot more sailing in before I went to university. In October 2015 I re-joined Tenacious for a fortnight of maintenance at Southampton, met up with old friends and made some new ones as I assisted the engineers with a range of interesting jobs – it was a great experience and gave me a chance to get to know more about the ship before my special gap year adventure.
In November I re-join for a 55 day transatlantic voyage to Antigua. I know I am really fortunate to have the time and opportunity to do this, not many people do. I found some statistics recently and the average age of a transatlantic sailor is forty-something – so I am very lucky to be able to do it at all, and relatively young, and with a great bunch of people. I consider my JST friends to be my ‘other family’ so although 55 days will be a long time away from home, I am sure when I get on board and join my watch I soon settle into the routine and won’t want to get off again.
I am hoping that the Bay of Biscay won’t be too challenging, but everyone tells me it can get a bit rough. After that it would be good to call into some southern European ports, the Canaries again and maybe the Cape Verde Islands before we head off 2000+ miles across the Atlantic to explore the warm Caribbean. The most daunting thing is just how far away from land it is possible to be, but in my spare time I’d like to learn more about navigation as well as help out the Bosun and Engineer. The bit I am most looking forward to is being able to get some really serious miles under sail, if we are lucky and catch the trade winds we could sail all the way.