LN899 10/07/2016 We set sail From Antwerp, where we have been docked alongside some of the worlds other most impressive tall ships. This is also the first day of training for many of the 31 voyage crew learning the ropes, which is a different type of challenge for each person. My dad and I got the chance to meet the others on our watch: Mislav, our leader from Croatia; an experienced seafarer who’s last voyage was on the JST Tenacious from Tahiti to Fiji in May. Donal an Irishman living in London who is never short of a tale, Sarah and Pardy who are part of Leicester’s VISTA group specialising in activities and events for the visually impaired, and Ryan, a burley young cadet from South Shields merchant navy academy.

Watch duty for Ryan and myself was 4am, which meant that our time at the Tall ships Race 2016 crew party was cut short the night before (…only joking) but luckily the only real duty was to keep an eye out for stragglers trying to walk the gangplank on their way home from the festivities. Pardy had joined us on deck by accident as the girls on watch before got the bunk numbers wrong and woke him up as well. Though, being a good sport, he opted to stay up and help out drinking tea and experiencing the sunrise over the waters and boats of the city docks.

After breakfast we manoeuvred around the docks to depart along the Shelcht with the other ships (some representing the navies of Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Poland, and Germany). The bank was heaving with crowds along the promenade to wave off the fleet, as we braced the yards and drop the sails for the first time as a team of mostly novices. The river swept for miles before sea past Antwerp’s immense industrial lock system and passing colossal freight vessels on the way.

Later on our captain Richard received a message from the harbour master congratulating the Lord Nelson for being the only ship of the 31 to leave port without use of an engine and solely under sail-power. As we hit the North Sea against the wind, we started to motor out into the waves, and it was instantly understood that our journey along the river had been leisurely and it was now time for the big rock to sleep.

Ross Maidment Forward Port Watch