Today we left Southampton about 10.00 under a sunny sky. Captain Darren gave us an interesting commentary on the vessels we passed including the Danish and Norwegian Royal Yachts. We headed towards Cowes first, on the Isle of Wight, where we were surrounded by yachts of all kinds, racing and cruising, in a good breeze of a SW force 5 and sunshine. Beautiful Pilot Cutters of various sizes and designs, a junk rigged yacht sailing much closer to wind than you are lead believe is possible, many sailing dinghies like sea butterflies, and many Bermudan rigged yachts. We passed close to the Naval Ship Northumberland and dipped our ensign as they dipped theirs. Then we headed westwards down the narrow Needles Channel with the Shingles to Starboard, and the white cliffs and Lighthouse off the Western tip of the Isle of Wight to our port. The tidal overalls and races here through this narrow safe channel, with the stiff breeze and the sailing yachts in close proximity, made for an exciting passage. Now to set sails! First order of business was to get some training on climbing the rigging, and going out on the lower topsail yards of the fore and mainmasts. Thereafter, all hands gained experience in bracing the yards hard to starboard and port, before setting the lower topsails. The engine is off and we’re now enjoying a southerly course for Cherbourg France.