All posts by Elle Watson

Wanderlustic Merchant Navy Deck Officer Cadet studying at Warsash Maritime Academy, and sponsored by Maritime London. Wish to see the world, explore different cultures and have adventures everywhere. Lover of Maps and Musicals.

Elle’s Adventures – Two Years On

Where has time gone? Can you believe it’s been just over 2 years since I started my Deck Officer Cadet Ship, through MLOCS, and Chiltern Maritime, at Warsash Maritime Academy? I definitely can’t.

A lot has happen in the past two years, the first of which you can read here (Elle’s Adventures – One Year On).  Like last year this will mostly be an amalgamation of my previous blog posts, so bear with if you’re re reading parts. I recognise that last year’s post was extremely wordy, so I hope to keep this a little shorter and sweeter.

One year on leaves off where I have not long started lectures, having returned to WMA in the first week of January, and we were thrown straight back in to work, with seven new subjects (well 5 plus cargo and, stability & naval architecture), four of which gave us assignments within the first week!

Also during the Spring Term I took part for the second year running in the annual WMA 24 Hour Life Raft Challenge. I’m sure by now you all know that this is sponsored event in aid of Sail4Cancer, where we spent 24 hours in a Life Raft, in the mouth of the River Hamble.

By 1705 on March 11th we were all in our rafts, and ready for the challenge to begin. Although we did have a small leak in our raft, memories of ‘Titanic Raft from 2015’ came flooding back, all was fine in the rafts, and the first few hours went extremely quickly, and was filled with lots of laughing and even more food, including a Dominoes Delivery.

Night time was extremely crowed, more so then the year previous, however despite this, I managed to snuggle up into my best friend Luke, and we let the hours pass by films on my tablet, and by napping.

When morning came, we decided it was a good idea to sing. It really wasn’t a good idea. What was even more of a ‘not good idea’, I decided that live tweeting and blogging was not good enough this year, and therefore would vlog throughout the 24 hours, which resulted in me awkwardly telling the camera what time it was really.

By the afternoon we had exhausted the objects we could use for I-spy, and granny had been to the supermarket various times so everyone was starting to feel tires, uncomfortable and irritable, however the news that we had reached £8,000 did perk up everyone’s moods.

In the end we raised approximately £13,000 for Sail4Cancer, enabling 13 families to have a holiday, in order to gain respite from their day to day lives. If you would like to read my full hour detail of the challenge, including the above mentioned awkward videos of me telling the time, head over to “We Did It #WMALRC16”.

Before long Easter was upon us, and the summer term began. This started with rounding up the ends of our subjects and exams before starting with new subjects, Orals Prep, Engineering, Transas, Maritime Law, Maritime Business, and Command Management. These were mostly all assignment based, including essays on the fault of the Costa Concordia grounding, and planning a route for a ferry out of Portsmouth (something I became very familiar with having been at the helm for said pilotage many times) on the Electronic Charts, and carrying out the pilotage on the simulators.

Command Movement was split in to various smaller assignments including using the simulator to do some manovering and come along side, and planning a route on the electronic charts. Along with written assignments, we had a group presentation, in which I volunteered as team leader; all were about search and rescue. Our final assignment was our Signals exam, which consisted of recognising Morse code, and flags and meanings, along with a short written test. Our final part of Command management was an hour a week about what engineers do on board.

Towards the end of term I was told that I would be joining Windstar Cruises, on board mys Wind Surf from September through to January, not only meaning that I had my birthday and Christmas at sea, but also I had a month off, in which I spent time with my family, had a wee adventure on my own. As I was missing Christmas with my friends, the awesome people that they are threw me my own special Christmas dinner and party in the middle of August. During my time on board I would spend my first two months around the med, followed by two weeks in Dry Dock in Cadiz, two week crossing/wet dock, and my final month in the Caribbean.

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On September 7th I flew to Lisbon to join the Wind Surf, and set into work on the eight till twelve watch.  Despite being my third ship, the Wind Surf was completely different to one I’d been on before, for one it had an actually steering wheel (which made me more excited then what I would like to admit!), and of course there were sails, but also Wind Star has an open bridge policy, meaning that our guests were allowed to visit the bridge whenever we were at sea.

With a day at sea before our first destination I was very quickly thrown into the idea of having guests asking questions on the bridge. It also gave me a good amount of time to learn my way around the bridge equipment, especially the sail controls. During this time I was working with the third officer, and therefore my ‘overtime work’ was made up of the maintenance of LSA, embarkation training, and muster lists.

During my third cruise, while in Capri, I celebrated my 22nd Birthday with going on tour! In which I got to enter the Blue Grotto, a cave where the water glows bright blue due sunlight traveling through underwater cavities, the entrance of which about a meter high so often cut off, taste food in Anacapri, get a chairlift up nearly 600m high Mount Solaro, and ride the cable car. With celebrations continuing into the evening with being included in the Captain’s Introductions, followed by cake with my new friends.

Other than standard being on watch, learning as I go, looking after Lifeboats, LSA, and such there isn’t much that I can really go into detail with for my first month. Most the on watch things, compass errors, plotting position, assessing traffic I’ve talked about in previous blogs. Don’t get me wrong, I learnt an awful lot working with the Third Officer, but not that’s worth reading about.

After my fifth cruise I changed watch to the 4-8, with the positive note of getting to experience arrivals and departures, getting to work more with the sails and their maintenance, being a larger presence in crew training, (and getting longer/better hours exploring), but with the negative that my nightly midnight visits to my best friend and mama on board MJ, who was the night shift.

At first I was not looking forward to waking up so early, but soon realised I actually preferred getting up at half 3 then I did half 7! On this watch there would be the more or less same routine most days. Getting up as quietly as possible & getting ready in the dark in order to not disturb my cabin mate between 0315 and 0330, stopping by MJ to say good morning, getting on to the bridge for around 0345 and making a coffee, after the watch was handed over, Second Officer Aline, QM Rosid, and I would walk something like 70 laps of the bridge (about a mile) if safe to do so, while discussing mostly travels, adventures and near death experiences, an hour before the pilot we would start our pre-arrival checks, such as calling arrival parties, contacting the port and/or pilots, making sure all is in order for the Captain to take the vessels control. On arrival I was in charge of fixing positions, the arrival checklist and the rough log. Usually by time we were alongside and moored it was about time to hand over the watch, and have an hour or so nap before starting the days out of watch work, be that sails or training, followed by lunch (usually ashore) and an explore/nap before returning to the bridge at 1600.

Sails maintenance included routine checks such a movements and mast inspections, emergency maintenance such as repairs, and general upkeep such as greasing and topping up oil. It became noticeable one day that our fifth main sail had a small vertical tear, which resulted in spending our Halloween morning with a team of sailors, lowering the sail and sewing a patch on either side to cover the hole, my nana would be so proud, she always wanted to me sew! I did get a little worried after proudly exclaiming that I had help sew the patch (learning some Indonesian while doing so), that it would come loose and the rip becoming visible again. Both our QM Rosid and 2/O Aline both went up the top of the masts, which I would have loved to do, but due to insurance I wasn’t allowed. Most sails days we did end up greasy, oily, mucky, sweaty and tired, but it was such a great learning experience and I so much enjoyed the hands on element.

Training was also such a brilliant thing to get involved in, as I was able to see things we’d talked about at college happen on location, and I got the practical side of things. Some trainings included just discussing first response in the crew specific locations, some presentations, some drills, but my favourite were definitely ones that broke down what we would do in an emergency while still carried out the actions, such as the day we inflated a life raft on the quay side and in groups got the whole crew inside so they saw how crowded it was and what you would do, but the best and worse at the same time was fire team training. During this the fire team, and usually myself, would dress up fully in firefighting gear, practice using a fire hose from the aft mooring deck, then practice entering a smoke filled/dark area retrieving a casualty and putting a ‘fire’ out”.

Although I preferred the latter part of my contract in terms of work, I preferred ashore in Europe. I adored soaking up the culture, eating new foods, marvelling over the architecture, and so much more. I have some favourite places definitely Dubrovnik and Portofino being top of my list, I think they are beautiful in topography, architecture and just everything about them. Ibiza surprised me a lot, all I really knew of Ibiza was parties so I wasn’t fussed, but I discovered that there was a historic side and walked the city walls. Monaco is also a high point on my list, though instead of the casino I went to the palace, museum and aquarium. Other highlights include shopping in Sorrento, walking around Kotor’s old town, exploring the backstreets of Venice, and Barcelona’s Food Market.

During my time on board I went into my second dry dock. Having not enjoyed my first, I went in dreading dry dock, and hoped I would have work to do. I found myself regretting hoping for work every single day. Every day I was busy, I was tired, I ended up very sweaty every day, I got stressed, I loved it, maybe not at the time (or at least most of the time), but looking back I know I enjoyed  the work, and I really appreciate the responsibilities that I was given.

The best days in Dry dock were the days that I was allowed to go into the dock itself. The first I tagged along with 2/O Aline within a few days of arriving, second with most of the crew, mid-way through the two weeks, and finally a couple of days before we left, I was tasked on supervising a contractor doing some work.

Every couple of nights we did make sure we had a break from long, loud days and had what became known as ‘family night’, which sometimes meant going for a meal, or to the nearby super store (which sold Irn-Bru), but mostly consisted of getting a take away and watching an animated film, usually Disney or penguin related.

Wet dock was a complete different work schedule, paired with the constant clock changes (retarding an hour every few days), my body clock did feel a wee bit out of whack. During our two weeks crossing I was on watch on the bridge between 0400 and 0800, though I prepped the days permits to work, so often didn’t leave the bridge till 0830ish, then 0845-0900 I would join the sailors in working around the ship, finishing just after 1500 each day. The reason for this was that both the other deck cadet, Alistair, and I could both do a navigational watch in which the sun was rising or setting, in order to practice our celestial navigation, along with completely practical maintenance tasks.

Each morning I would estimate a position for civil twilight (basically when you can see the horizon and stars) that day position using a previous and distance = speed x times. I would then find an estimation of where in the sky recognisable stars would be at that time. When said time comes around I’d use a sextant and azimuth ring to find the bearing and amplitude of the stars, of which I used to plot the ships position on the chart.

My first few days I was completely useless, my 2/O, Aline, had to guide me step by step through the whole procedure, and to begin with even shoot the stars for me. My first position told me we were 90 miles from our actual position, though I was reassure by the fact that there was over 3000nm to our destination, if we were only 90 miles out we’d get to the Caribbean alright. As I became more practiced Aline gave me more and more independence, checking how I was doing between steps, double checking my shots, reminding me of little things I may have forgotten, and there were a few times that I missed a step, did something in the wrong order, or simply read the wrong date and had to start the calculations all again. However, by the end of the crossing I was left to do the whole thing alone, by this time I had also got a lot quicker and accurate at doing.

During the day I partook in tasks such as wash downs of the ship, making sure things were back in shape for arrival in St. Maarten, repairing and pressure testing fire hoses, working with the Carpenters, and continuing the general upkeep and maintenance of LSA, Lifeboats and Tenders, the sail system.  Again during the time it seemed like lot of work, and some days were quite stressful, but looking back it was a fantastic to be fully involved in.

We arrived at Philipsburg, St. Maaten at the start of December, and I returned to being on 4-8 full time, however this time with 2/O Sebastian, however after my first week, Alistair disembarked, leaving me as the only deck cadet on board, so did work with each of the navigating officers, if and when required.

Caribbean days were repetitive as we anchored most days, and our arrival and departures we’re mostly the same time each day, not to mention that we visited the same ports, either weekly or every other week. This meant I did find myself getting more tired then what I was in Europe, and lead a less adventurous life, but that does no way mean I wasn’t finding myself feeling amazing about my training.

During watches my 2/O took a step back and it became more like him shadowing me as to oppose to me shadowing him. He was very reassuring that he was there if I had any uncertainties, to ask away, but soon I’ll be qualified and need to be confident having the con, so good to have some practice with someone there. Throughout watches he’d also ask me question such as what action I think we should take when we sighted other vessels, reinforcing my rules of the road practically. Along with often leaving the pre-arrival/pre-departure checks down to me, though doesn’t seem like much, it worked wonders for me feeling confident about being a future officer.

With work being done on the sails infrastructure during wet and dry dock, and Sebastian’s duo-ticket, the maintenance we did on sails was different to what was done with Aline. My last few weeks on sails were spent concentrating on the workings of the system and trying to restore them to a near original condition.

During the Caribbean season I became more aware of other operations that happened around the vessel, each cruise the chief officer, invited me to host tables with him in the guest dining room, I had time and energy to attend the on Deck BBQs & Line Dancing, beach BBQs, I spent a lot of time at the Marina, and I also managed to watch the crew show. I even sang Christmas carols on Christmas Eve to our guests, and spent my New Year’s Eve interacting with guests in the Compass Rose bar. By this time this had come around I was very used to interacting with guests, giving them tours of the bridge, answering any questions, but hosting tables was something different, every time I felt terrified (normally only for the first 10 minutes or so), I really didn’t want to say the wrong with, or worse spill food on my formal whites! Luckily, I got on very well with my chief officer, so my mind was put at rest, and it was very easy to continue a conversation. I genuinely think working with him helped me grow a lot on board, hearing “Lee, you are the best,” (Lee was his name for me, don’t ask I’m not entirely sure why either) multiple times a day was great, I must say.

formal-elles

My first holiday season at sea was one that I won’t forget definitely! Christmas Eve consisted of buy Christmas crackers, lots of candy, and somehow Waitrose products in Antigua. Christmas day we spent the day at sea traveling north west, we had the perfect wind for sailing, meaning we turned the engines off around 10am and didn’t turn them on till about 10pm, meaning my cabin was silent, so outside of watch, and bridge secret Santa time I spent the day asleep.

We sailed into the New Year also, but I was not in bed at midnight to make the most of the silent engines. Every New Year people in my village in North West England go for a swim in the sea, this year I decided to uphold this tradition, although I was in Antigua. Though this wasn’t anything out the ordinary as I spent the time at the marina, most days swimming, and using the water trampoline, but I also discovered in Roseau, Dominica that I am ace at Stand Up Paddle Boarding, however not that great at doing flips anymore.

I landed back at Manchester airport mid-morning on the 8th of January, and returned home for my third Christmas. Although nice to be home, I found myself longing to be back on board. I really want to say thank you again to everyone on board, I am very lucky to have sailed with Captain Gerard and his wonderful team. Everybody on board taught me something, and I have made some fantastic friends that I hope I do stay in contact with. I feel completely privileged to work with who I have, if I mention one person I’d have to mention everyone, or at least 95% of the crew. When I said I didn’t want to leave I was completely telling the truth. I’m currently sat at home, feeling homesick (for probably the first time ever) for the ship I called home for the past four months, and the people I’ve called family, though I have to remember what wise woman told me on last night on board, “It’s never goodbye, just see you later.”

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All good things must come to an end – See You Later Windsurf

December – January

Caribbean season

Caribbean.png

So that’s that, I’ve not long got home from the most amazing venture in my life. I am completely heartbroken to have said goodbye to Wind Surf, and once again extend my thanks to everyone on board, each one taught me something. I really did not want to leave, the crew, the ship, and the Caribbean as England is too cold. What’s that I hear you ask, what was it like spending 5 weeks in the Caribbean around Christmas? Well, I’ll tell you, hot.

We arrived at Philipsburg, St. Maaten at the start of December, having stopped off in St. John’s, Antigua to dispose of garbage, pick up some embarking crew, and such. I returned to being on 4-8 full time, however this time with 2/O Sebastian, however after my first week, Alistair disembarked, leaving me as the only deck cadet on board, so did work with each of the navigating officers, if and when required.

I know I mentioned in my post about the med that the days were repetitive, but that was nothing compared to the Caribbean, as we anchored most days, and our arrival and departures we’re mostly the same time each day, not to mention that we visited the same ports, either weekly or every other week. This meant I did find myself getting more tired then what I was in Europe, and lead a less adventurous life, but that does no way mean I wasn’t finding myself feeling amazing about my training.

During watches my 2/O took a step back and it became more like him shadowing me as to oppose to me shadowing him. He was very reassuring that he was there if I had any uncertainties, to ask away, but soon I’ll be qualified and need to be confident having the con, so good to have some practice with someone there. Throughout watches he’d also ask me question such as what action I think we should take when we sighted other vessels, reinforcing my rules of the road practically. Along with often leaving the pre-arrival/pre-departure checks down to me, though doesn’t seem like much, it worked wonders for me feeling confident about being a future officer.

With work being done on the sails infrastructure during wet and dry dock, and Sebastian’s duo-ticket, the maintenance we did on sails was different to what was done with Aline. My last few weeks on sails were spent concentrating on the workings of the system and trying to restore them to a near original condition.

During the Caribbean season I became more aware of other operations that happened around the vessel, each cruise the chief officer, invited me to host tables with him in the guest dining room, I had time and energy to attend the on Deck BBQs & Line Dancing, beach BBQs, I spent a lot of time at the Marina, and I also managed to watch the crew show. I even sang Christmas carols on Christmas eve to our guests, and spent my New Year’s Eve interacting with guests in the Compass Rose bar.

formal-elles

By this time this had come around I was very used to interacting with guests, giving them tours of the bridge, answering any questions, but hosting tables was something different, every time I felt terrified (normally only for the first 10 minutes or so), I really didn’t want to say the wrong with, or worse spill food on my formal whites! Luckily, I got on very well with my chief officer, so my mind was put at rest, and it was very easy to continue a conversation. I genuinely think working with him helped me grow a lot on board, hearing “Lee, you are the best,” (Lee was his name for me, don’t ask I’m not entirely sure why either) multiple times a day was great, I must say.

My first holiday season at sea was one that I won’t forget definitely! As you probably all know I’m not the biggest party animal in the world, which meant I was dreading the Christmas Eve party, instead I spent my evening with some my closest friend I had made listening to musical and having a good laugh in my cabin. Christmas Eve also consisted of buy Christmas crackers, lots of candy, and somehow Waitrose products in Antigua.

Christmas day was definitely one that I don’t think I’ll experience again, due to the fact we spent the day at sea traveling north west, we had the perfect wind for sailing, meaning we turned the engines off around 10am and didn’t turn them on till about 10pm, this was wonderful for me, as my cabin was above the PMs, it was completely silent, ergo I woke up for morning and evening wake, to exchange secret Santa present on the bridge, and have the traditional Christmas burrito lunch, and slept pretty much the rest of the day.

We sailed into the New Year also, but I was not in bed at midnight to make the most of the silent engines. Every New Year people in my village in North West England go for a swim in the sea, this year I decided to uphold this tradition, although I was in Antigua. Though this wasn’t anything out the ordinary as I spent spent the time at the marina, most days swimming, and using the water trampoline, but I also discovered in Roseau, Dominica that I am ace at Stand Up Paddle Boarding, however not that great at doing flips anymore.

I am aware that there is so so so much more things I can write about, but if I wrote everything I wanted to, a) this would be thousands of words long, and b) I need to keep something back so I can have stories to tell that no one has heard before, so I’ve tried to keep it short and sweet.

I really want to say thank you again to everyone on board, I am very luck to have sailed with Captain Gerard and his wonderful team. Everybody on board taught me something, and I have made some fantastic friends that I hope I do stay in contact with. I feel completely privileged to work with who I have, if I mention one person I’d have to mention everyone, or at least 95% of the crew. When I said I didn’t want to leave I was completely telling the truth. I’m currently sat at home, feeling homesick (for probably the first time ever) for the ship I called home for the past four months, and the people I’ve called family. A wise woman did tell me though, “It’s never goodbye, just see you later.”

I can’t think of a creative name for my post about Dry and Wet Dock.

Dry & Wet Dock / Atlantic Crossing

November – December

Man, I regret hoping for a more eventful dry dock in my last post! Every day was busy, I was tired, I ended up very sweaty every day, I got stressed, I loved it, maybe not at the time (or at least most of the time), but looking back I know I enjoyed  the work, and I really appreciate the responsibilities that I was given. Though next time I’m not wearing a radio every day, I won’t make myself as easily available for jobs. The idea of day work also threw my body a bit, after weeks of f4 and 8s, working from 0730 through to 2015, with lunch & dinner breaks did take a few days to get used to. I’m not really sure what to write about dry dock, yes I was busy every day, but most days it was the same thing.

My main role during dry dock, and partially during wet dock was ‘Fire Guard Cadet’ along with GSM Anthony ‘Fire Guard Supervisor’, we assigned pairs, originally known as fire guards but later Fireflies, to a hot work, and check on them throughout the day, refilled their bottles if needed, etc. Each day we must have walked miles just making rounds of the ship. Some days there were more hot work locations then teams, which meant I stepped up to the role of fire guard.

The best days in Dry dock were the days that I was allowed to go into the dock itself. The first I tagged along with 2/O Aline within a few days of arriving, second with most of the crew, mid-way through the two weeks, and finally a couple of days before we left, I was tasked on supervising a contractor doing some work on the echo sounder anodes. It was really seeing how the ship looked during the whole time, before and after, in comparison to embarking late in to dry dock like on Commodore Goodwill.

Other tasks I was involved in during the two weeks included assisting in the preparation of Permits to Work, being first response for fire alarms, working with the ETO, being outside of tank entries in case of emergency and continuing maintenance of firefighting equipment, and sail system.

Every couple of nights we did make sure we had a break from long, loud days and had what became known as ‘family night’, which sometimes meant going for a meal, or to the nearby super store (which sold Irn-Bru), but mostly consisted of getting a take away and watching an animated film, usually Disney or penguin related.

Wet dock was a complete different work schedule, paired with the constant clock changes (retarding an hour every few days), my body clock did feel a wee bit out of whack. During our two weeks crossing I was on watch on the bridge between 0400 and 0800, though I prepped the days permits to work, so often didn’t leave the bridge till 0830ish, then 0845-0900 I would join the sailors in working around the ship, finishing just after 1500 each day. The reason for this was that both the other deck cadet, Alistair, and I could both do a navigational watch in which the sun was rising or setting, in order to practice our celestial navigation, along with completely practical maintenance tasks.

Each morning I would estimate a position for civil twilight (basically when you can see the horizon and stars) that day position using a previous and distance = speed x times. I would then find an estimation of where in the sky recognisable stars would be at that time. When said time comes around I’d use a sextant and azimuth ring to find the bearing and amplitude of the stars, of which I used to plot the ships position on the chart.

My first few days I was completely useless, my 2/O, Aline, had to guide me step by step through the whole procedure, and to begin with even shoot the stars for me. My first position told me we were 90 miles from our actual position, though I was reassure by the fact that there was over 3000nm to our destination, if we were only 90 miles out we’d get to the Caribbean alright. As I became more practiced Aline gave me more and more independence, checking how I was doing between steps, double checking my shots, reminding me of little things I may have forgotten, and there were a few times that I missed a step, did something in the wrong order, or simply read the wrong date and had to start the calculations all again. However, by the end of the crossing I was left to do the whole thing alone, by this time I had also got a lot quicker and accurate at doing.

wet-dock-day-10

During the day I partook in tasks such as wash downs of the ship, making sure things were back in shape for arrival in St. Maarten, repairing and pressure testing fire hoses, working with the Carpenters, and continuing the general upkeep and maintenance of LSA, Lifeboats and Tenders, the sail system.

Again during the time it seemed like lot of work, and some days were quite stressful, but looking back it was a fantastic to be fully involved in.

 

Pizza, Postcard, Magnet, Milk.

Med Season

September – October

Hello form the Wind Surf! Largest Sailing Vessel in the World. Windstar’s Flag Ship. My home for the next four months.

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msy Wind Surf alongside in Ibiza

I joined ‘the Surf’ on September 8th with Becky, a phase two engine cadet, also sponsored by Maritime London, whom I lived with at WMA, in Lisbon Portugal. Although we landed late morning on the 7th, we weren’t actually picked up to embark until 1330 the next day, which meant we had a good few hours to explore Lisbon!

After being on board and having had couple of hours of safety familiarisation and such straight into uniform and on the bridge for half seven ready to start watches on 8-12s. 090916-altlantic-ocean-1

The first cruise was made up of a day at sea, Tangier, Malaga, Almeria, Cartagena, Ibiza, Tarragona and Barcelona. Despite being my third ship, the Wind Surf was completely different to one I’d been on before, for one it had an actually steering wheel (which made me more excited then what I would like to admit!), and of course there were sails, but also Wind Star has an open bridge policy, meaning that our guests were allowed to visit the bridge whenever we were at sea.

snanish-cruise

With a day at sea before our first destination I was very quickly thrown into the idea of having guests asking questions on the bridge. It also gave me a good amount of time to learn my way around the bridge equipment, especially the sail controls. During this time I was working with the third officer, and therefore my ‘overtime work’ was made up of the maintenance of LSA, embarkation training, and muster lists.

In order to get to know my officers and fellow cadets (all of which I knew through college, but not well) we spent our afternoon exploring Tangier… And Malaga… And Ibiza. While on 8-12, out ‘overtime work’ was carried out from half 12 till half 2, giving a good couple of hours to explore (or nap), in the afternoon.

I had already promised that I’d being sending my best friends four year old postcards, so in every port I could I bought three postcards, on for the wee man, one for me, and one for my grandparents. I soon learned that most people on board were all after one thing (other than Wi-Fi) when we got in to port. Magnets. A bandwagon that I jumped on after a few weeks (I wish I started to begin with!).

spain-frace-italy

After a week I was given tasks such as checking and replacing BA bottles after drills, inventories for lifeboats and tenders, checking fire screen doors, testing smoke detectors, and updating muster lists, and let to get on with them. During my second week we also had Port State Inspection, so I often was asked questions to research in SOLAS.

Although very busy with the inspection I did get to have a wee bit of fun that week, experiencing the Marina (and witnessing someone do a spectacular accidental face/belly flop off the trampoline) in Cannes, and attending a Windstar Private event in Portofino, which was wonderful. I completely fell in love with the area, also ate so much amazing food…

My third and fourth cruises were my favourite destination wise. Citivecchia, Capri, Giardia Naxos, day at sea, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Split, Rovinj, Venice (then in reverse).

dalmation-coast

During my third cruise, while in Capri, I celebrated my 22nd Birthday with going on tour! In which I got to enter the Blue Grotto, a cave where the water glows bright blue due sunlight traveling through underwater cavities, the entrance of which about a meter high so often cut off, taste food in Anacapri, get a chairlift up nearly 600m high Mount Solaro, and ride the cable car. With celebrations continuing into the evening with being included in the Captain’s Introductions, followed by cake with my new friends.

Other than standard being on watch, learning as I go, looking after Lifeboats, LSA, and such there isn’t much that I can really go into detail with for my first month. Most the on watch things, compass errors, plotting position, assessing traffic I’ve talked about in previous blogs. Don’t get me wrong, I learnt an awful lot working with the Third Officer, but not that’s worth reading about.

After my fifth cruise I changed watch to the 4-8, with the positive note of getting to experience arrivals and departures, getting to work more with the sails and their maintenance, being a larger presence in crew training, (and getting longer/better hours exploring), but with the negative that my nightly midnight visits to my best friend and mama on board MJ, who was the night shift.

scicily-coast

At first I was not looking forward to waking up so early, but soon realised I actually preferred getting up at half 3 then I did half 7! On this watch there would be the more or less same routine most days. Getting up as quietly as possible & getting ready in the dark in order to not disturb my cabin mate between 0315 and 0330, stopping by MJ to say good morning, getting on to the bridge for around 0345 and making a coffee, after the watch was handed over, Second Officer Aline, QM Rosid, and I would walk something like 70 laps of the bridge (about a mile) if safe to do so, while discussing mostly travels, adventures and near death experiences, an hour before the pilot we would start our pre-arrival checks, such as calling arrival parties, contacting the port and/or pilots, making sure all is in order for the Captain to take the vessels control. On arrival I was in charge of fixing positions, the arrival checklist and the rough log. Usually by time we were alongside and moored it was about time to hand over the watch, and have an hour or so nap before starting the days out of watch work, be that sails or training, followed by lunch (usually ashore) and an explore/nap before returning to the bridge at 1600.

Sails maintenance included routine checks such a movements and mast inspections, emergency maintenance such as repairs, and general upkeep such as greasing and topping up oil. It became noticeable one day that our fifth main sail had a small vertical tear, which resulted in spending our Halloween morning with a team of sailors, lowering the sail and sewing a patch on either side to cover the hole, my nana would be so proud, she always wanted to me sew! I did get a little worried after proudly exclaiming that I had help sew the patch (learning some Indonesian while doing so), that it would come loose and the rip becoming visible again. Both our QM Rosid and 2/O Aline both went up the top of the masts, which I would have loved to do, but due to insurance I wasn’t allowed. Most sails days we did end up greasy, oily, mucky, sweaty and tired, but it was such a great learning experience and I so much enjoyed the hands on element.

Training was also such a brilliant thing to get involved in, as I was able to see things we’d talked about at college happen on location, and I got the practical side of things. Some trainings included just discussing first response in the crew specific locations, some presentations, some drills, but my favourite were definitely ones that broke down what we would do in an emergency while still carried out the actions, such as the day we inflated a life raft on the quay side and in groups got the whole crew inside so they saw how crowded it was and what you would do, but the best and worse at the same time was fire team training. During this the fire team, and usually myself, would dress up fully in firefighting gear, practice using a fire hose from the aft mooring deck, then practice entering a smoke filled/dark area retrieving a casualty and putting a ‘fire’ out”.

I’ve already discussed going ashore, and without sounding like the whole trip was just a holiday, I did find myself ashore a lot while in Europe in my time off, especially when in Italy, every day was a search for a good pizza (when in Rome – not that I every actually went to Rome), a post card, a magnet, and fresh milk, and usually an hours walk. I have some favourite places definitely Dubrovnik and Portofino being top of my list, I think they are beautiful in topography, architecture and just everything about them. Ibiza surprised me a lot, I was tempted just to nap through  the day as I all I really knew of Ibiza was parties, but I was invited for Tapas and Ice Cream (who can say no to that) and discovered that there was a historic side and walked the city walls. Monaco/Monte Carlo is also a high point on my list, though where most went to the casino and bars, I went to the palace, museum and aquarium, I did go in a casino, just to say I had done it, but I found the palace much more to my taste. Other highlights include shopping in Sorrento, walking around Kotor’s old town, exploring the backstreets of Venice,passing this far away from a Smoking Stromboli Volcano and Barcelona’s Food Market.

The med season came to a close, where mine had started, back in Lisbon. After disembarking all guests, and some crew, we travelled from Lisbon to Cadiz where we’re in Dry Dock for two weeks. I’ve adored my past few weeks on board, and although dreading dry dock, I’m hopeful for one more eventful for myself, and excited my first ocean crossing in a couple of weeks’ time!

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How can I tell you all that I went to lectures in Phase Three in the most engaging way possible?

What can I tell you about Phase Three at Warsash Maritime Academy? Or more what can I tell you that I think would be interesting to read? Yes, I had a great 8 months back at the academy, but do you really want to read about just attending lectures and walking miles every weekend?

I guess keeping with the theme of trying to inform people what I’ve been doing, and maybe inspiring people into doing a cadetship I should maybe state what this phase consisted off and the some of the subjects included a wee bit – more cause I had no idea what I was going to be doing this phase…

Spring Term

I started back at WMA in the first week of January 2016, and we were thrown straight back in to work, with seven new subjects (well 5 plus cargo and, stability & naval architecture), four of which gave us assignments within the first week! Don’t worry though; January was also the month where I got to see my friends again so it wasn’t too bad. Even if my “this year will be all about studying hard, eating right and sleeping well” pledge was broken day two back on campus when I met up with my best friend and ended up on a road trip to McDonalds in the middle of the night for a vanilla milkshake. Ooops.

Anyways, seven (four) new subjects! These were: Meteorology, NAEST Theory, Radar Plotting, Voyage Planning, Wet Cargo, Dry Cargo, and Stability & Naval Architecture.

 

Voyage Planning: This was probably my favourite subject, as it really made me feel like I was doing what I’ve always wanted to do. Our assignment was made up of plotting a route from America to Cork in Ireland; this included an ocean passage, a coastal passage, and a pilotage. In which we had to decide a route, and the most appropriate waypoints, include distances from the course in which we could deviate, where to start turns, head marks, and contingencies for if weather was bad or needed to go to anchor. All this information was shared between charts and a ‘Bridge Notebook’. This was quite a large project, or was for a first time planning exercise, where, unfortunately I did get a pretty nasty chest infection in the final couple weeks leading up to the deadline, and did a lot of the final touches in the final 48hours – which to be far was earlier then a good handful of my class finished theirs. The second part of our Voyage planning unit was an exam on topics including but not limited to; actions when encountering an emergency like grounding of the vessel, regulations imposed by the MLC such as hours of rest, and impacts of heavy weather.

Meteorology: This subject was one I was so looking forward to studying however did turn out it wasn’t quite my forte unfortunately. This subject we had an assignment and exam. I can’t quiet remember everything from the exam but I know it was mostly about Tropical Revolving Storms. The assignment however I did enjoy and scored highly on. This consisted of taking various readings of instruments in the Met Lab, over a course of the day. These includes, but wasn’t limited to temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, and cloud amount and types. Once we had all this data we had to explain why the changes occurred and link then to what we seen on the isobars on a met chart of 12 hour intervals for that day.

Also in my last weeks of spring term I once again partook in WMA’s annual 24 hour life raft challenge, which you read my whole write up of, and watch some interesting videos, here.

Summer Term

Summer term started with rounding up the ends of our subjects and exams before starting with new subjects, Orals Prep, Engineering, Transas, Maritime Law, Maritime Business, and Command Management. These were mostly all assignment based, including essays on the fault of the Costa Concordia grounding, and planning a route for a ferry out of Portsmouth (something I became very familiar with having been at the helm for said pilotage many times) on the Electronic Charts, and carrying out the pilotage on the simulators.

Command Movement was split in to various smaller assignments including using the simulator to do some manovering and come along side, and planning a route on the electronic charts. Along with written assignments, we had a group presentation, in which I volunteered as team leader; all were about search and rescue. Our final assignment was our Signals exam, which consisted of recognising Morse code, and flags and meanings, along with a short written test. Our final part of Command management was an hour a week about what engineers do on board.

Most importantly of the summer term, we had lessons outside, which is what I have been asking for since Primary School.

And that I think is how I can make telling you all about going to lectures in the most engaging way possible.

We Did It! #WMALRC16

Hey guys! Sorry I couldn’t post this sooner!

As you can tell by the title I survived my second Life Raft Challenge (woop woop!), but before we get to that, let real talk for a sec about why Team Warsash has done this challenge.

With 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK, and approximately 930 people diagnosed a day, cancer is going affect virtually everyone is way. No matter the severity of these diagnoses they can feel like a death sentence, not only for the sufferer, but their families and friends. It may get to a point where these families feel as though they are drowning in a sea of appointments, medication, facts,&  figures and all that is wanted is some sort of escape from day-to-day life What is wanted is a raft, or a boat to save them from drowning in this sea.

That’s where Sail4Cancer comes in, this fantastic charity helps people escape from their day-to-day life for a wee while, and let them spend time on a literal boat. Young people facing cancer, families and young carers are all given the chance for a day out, or a holiday, where they can forget about what’s going on. This can be very therapeutic and refreshing for these people, whether that’s in the form of just getting out the house, having a break, or creating some final happy memories. Sail4Cancer’s main aim is:

To provide sailing & other water based respite opportunities for cancer patients / their families & those who have suffered bereavement in hope their quality of life may be improved.

Below is Sail4Cancer’s 2015 statistics:

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Of course non of this could be done without funds. This is where we come in. It’s very easy to just donate money, or do a sponsored walk/something similar, but instead we are reversing the roles. Where those who are supported by Sail4Cancer are looking from a figurative life raft to have a life line to what normality was, those of us taking part are leaving normality to spend 24 hours in a literal life raft, where we are limited in what we can do. If you would like to more about Sail4Cancer, their aims, and how to get involved in something click here.

Now, onto the challenge! Like mentioned this is my second year that I’ve been involved, and as I blogged it last year (#WMALRC15), it was very wordy – not many pictures and long. This is it is long, but I thought this year I’d also vlog my experience, as in words, you guys don’t get the full picture, so it is more made up of photos and videos. I will post the full vlog when I get round to stiching it all together, but there will be extra videos throughout this post that aren’t included (and some are included) in the main video, because it would be about 6 hours long if I were to include it all! (Just so you know I did find the whole talking to a camera tres awkward especially in the first few hours so it’s an interesting watch).

So here is Team Warsash!

And here’s our homes for 24 hour!

Like last year our challenge was in the second week of March, which means the weather could be anything, this year we were pretty lucky in what we got.

 

We mustered at the Boathouse around 1615 on Friday March 11th where we were issued our Foul Weather Gear and Life Jackets (provided by Sunsail Events), and as you’d expect from a bunch of millennials, many selfies were taken! I felt as though I was wearing a lot less clothing then what I was last year – which thinking back to how cold I was, worried me slightly (especially as I was getting over a chest infection at the time). I was wearing leggings, a t-shirt, a onesie, a buff, and two pairs of socks, and with me took with me a coat, my phone and tablet, some flapjack, a litre of water, a bar of dairy milk and some spare socks. Having had little space last year, with few individuals taking rucksacks and bedding on board, I was horrified this year when I saw that nearly everyone had bags for life, back packs and bedding!

Before we made our way down to the rafts Ian Arnold gave us a safety brief; keeping life jackets on, no going for a swim, etc etc etc, along with a speech given by Iain Thomas, a technician at Solent University, again more photos were taken! Some with fancy dress.

Before long it was time to make our way down the pier, and onto the rafts. This year we had two groups, a 25 man raft (Lima 1) with 21 (I think) people in, and a 12 man (Lima 2) with 9 (again I think) people in. Once again I was in Lima 1 with Luke, another Phase 3 deckie, and a mixture of Phase One, Deckies, Engineers and ETOs.

It did take a wee while to get everyone in the rafts, and some made some what I can only call interesting manoeuvres, when it came to getting in. Some stepped, some jumped, some fell, and some sort of slid/dived like a seal or penguin, unfortunately these were not caught on film…  I stepped if anyone was wondering…

By 1705 we were all in our rafts, and ready for the challenge to begin! I had managed to get a nice spot by the door with Luke, meaning it was very easy to sit both in and on the out side of the raft whenever we chose! The countdown was led by Iain Thomas, and at 1710 the challenge officially started!

 

Hour 1/24

This hour went pretty quick even though nothing really happened. It really was mostly just trying to settle in to the raft and get acquainted with each other, as it was a nice night most of us were sat on the edge. We also managed to lose a ball, named Wilson (1), ate a fair amount of junk snacks, and, of course, took many selfies.

Leading up to and during the event The Freaky Wave was on hand drawing cartoons, some with a general Life Raft Theme, and some corresponding to what I was live tweeting. Here is the few that he sent in this first hour.

 

Hour 2/24

That’s right! An hour in and we had a leak, well actually we had two! Now those of you that know about last years challenge we had ‘the Titanic 2’, a 12 man raft with a hole, which had a constant stream of water pouring in for about 23hours and 55mins of the challenge, to the point that Shore Crew took the executive decision to get some the cadets out overnight as they were that cold and wet! Fortunately this years  wasn’t too extreme, after sponging and moping up they didn’t really return.

Hour 3/24

This was the hour that I realised that if we had to abandon ship for real everyone would be screwed. Not only did many people disappear of the raft for a pee stop, but also despite the mountains of snacks that were bought, that dinner was coming soon, someone got so hungry that they broke into the emergency rations that were on board… Which meant we all had to try them, just to see what they were like. The answer, for anyone wondering, is really bland, dry shortbread. Although still sat in puddles, spirits were high, and we were all having a good craic and enjoying each others company.

Just before 8pm, food was delivered (thank you Sodexo, always a pleasure…) I’m not sure what was more soggy, our chips or our bums! The shore crew were playing with their thermogun, which showed the temperature had dropped to minus 2.5degrees C, but that didn’t stop us staying sat on the edge as we ate, mostly to reduce condensation and the raft smelling of chips all night!

007 Thermal Cam007 Food007 Soggy

 

Hour 4/24

 

 

Now before I continue, there is someone I need to introduce you all too. This is Rex, Taryn’s Dino, and a favourite game on Campus is stealing Rex for periods of time, a game which transposed on o the raft, and did keep us entertained for some time…

008 Rex

Unfortunately our entertainment came at a price… Rex helps Taryn sleep, if Taryn isn’t asleep, she’s talking. Or in this case, singing. Bieber, to be specific.

008 Bieber008 Bieber FW

Good job Zach had a better solution in how to stop the singing….

008 Canibal

Please note, no dinosaurs nor people were harmed (much) in the production of this blog.

 

Hour 5/24

Into our 4th hour and we realised we didn’t really actually know who each, and if I’m honest I’m still not sure if I know all the names of people on the raft! As there were cadets from four intakes, in five different courses we thought we’d better at least try to introduce ourselves. Sitting in a circle you’d think that’ll be an easy thing to do… It wasn’t, we tried many times, never did we get further then 7 people around the circle.

By this time also, everyone was sat inside the raft, and especially with the amount of stuff that was bought, it didn’t matter if we knew each other or not, we we’re forced into getting pretty close with each other anyway.

And what is the best thing to play when you’re in close quarters with people you need to stay friends with for at least the next 20hours? Monopoly of course! I mean, really what could go wrong there….?

 

Hour 6/24

I’m afraid there seems to be a theme going, as just after 10pm Pizza was delivered to the rafts. Who’d have thought cadets like their food…

010 Dominoes010 Pizza011 Pizza Boxes

Last year I had tweeted that Ridley was my favourite cause he bought us Haribo & Nutella, this year he upped the mark. The only thing that was bad about this pizza was when someone manages to spill the garlic dip everywhere,  and I mean EVERYWHERE!

010 Garlic

Where everyone was now inside, and stuff had spread out, everyone found themselves very cramped and uncomfortable.

Hour 7/24

Sad times came in this hour when somehow me and Luke had been separated. If this wasn’t horrific enough, I now found myself sat next to a ‘sober’ Sean, who tried to rap…

 

Hour 8/24 

I’m not sure that any other time ever, you would find Engineers doing work at midnight on a Friday/Saturday, nor, would you find any students sleeping, but what can I say, the life raft does strange things to you…. Fortunately I had managed to move around when some people had a pee stop and once again found myself snuggled up with Luke, in a surprisingly comfy and warm position. Unable to sleep yet myself and Luke enjoyed watching the Lego Movie!

012 Movies

Hour 9/24

As hinted in my above tweet, hour 9 came with much complaining, and more movie watching. By this time I was a wee bit grouchy, especially with the amount of bags that were crushing my legs, which did make me question why I’m idiot enough to have repeated this challenge! Luckily Andrew was on hand to make me smile again with his quick cartoons!

Hour 10/24

2am saw everyone awake, as Sean lovingly chundered, which was delightful. Asking around it seemed that everyone was great, but no one was happy. Sounds about right!

 

Hours 11, 12, 13 , 14/24

There’s not all that much I can really tell you about these hours. We finished watching Minions, and started watching Peanut/Charlie Brown, but ended up having a very snuggled  sleep, on and off for couple of hours, I was also too comfy and warm to want to move.

Of course all good things must come to an end.

019 Morning Tweets

Yup that’s right, from 0500 on wards, SOMEONE decided to sit on the edge, causing lot of cold wet air in and making it so that those sat by the door, aka me and Luke, became very cold and damp! Don’t worry though, we did get them back later in the day when they slept through breakfast….

Hour 15/24

SINGLE FIGURE COUNTDOWN!!! By half seven, most people were awake, which is a time on a Saturday morning that many of us don’t normally see, so that was nice. I mean we we’re all super groggy, and stiff, but we were awake…

 

Hour 16/24

16 hours later and I was only just starting to feel wee bit confident talking to a camera. Myself and Hanna got of the raft for the only time, during this hour, and out walk back was rather pleasant, the sun was starting to shine, and we were feeling decent. It wasn’t before long that we were sat on the edge of the raft – well sort of, we found the knots were quite impossible to untie, so we perched in easiest way we could – waving to yachties  and sing songs started!

020 Breakfast020 EDH

Zach’s Beard grow, quite a lot over night, and he had become a pirate… Which meant he had no worries about eating someone while waiting for breakfast… I’m not sure if old school pilot Luke seems as excited to eat someone…

Hour 17/24

We finally managed to get the raft open (by cutting the straps), and we breakfast was delivered, bacon buns all round, well kind of all round, like mentioned before someone made sure we all got a cold damp wake up call, so as she was sleeping when breakfast arrived we decided it was only fair to eat hers…

DCIM101GOPRO

Hour 18/24

Unfortunately for us the speakers on the pontoon was having issues, so we couldn’t listen to Spice Girls. More unfortunately for those around us that meant we took matters into our own hands and decided to sing ourselves… For this I can only apologise…

021 Spice Girls Tweets

021 SD Spice Girls

We didn’t stop at Spice Girls, I won’t inflict all our terrible renditions of 100s of Disney song & more, but enjoy! Watching back all these videos have made me cringe, but these more than most!)

 

Hour 19-23/24

These hours pretty much just dragged, and consisted of random shenanigans, napping, playing word games, waving, singing & napping… Around midday it was announced we had raised £8grand, some kayakers came to visit and Dawn Edwards bought us all Creme Eggs, but that was about it…

I did try to get everyone to say hi on Twitter, as requested by WMA & Sail4Cancer’s Twitter pages, but it failed a wee bit…

025 Say Hi

 

There was something at one point where Ian Arnold climbed in to Lima 2, exposed his nipple and sang I’m a little teapot… I’m not entirely sure on the situation, apparently it was a bet & his friends would donate if he did it… That’s what he told us anyway…

 

Hour 24/24

LAST HOUR!!!! Wooooooo! Like last year we were towed back to the pontoon, ready for the final countdown, and emptied the rafts pretty much so when we finished we could all get out and showered as soon a possible! Though if the previous hour felt as though they dragged, this hour really took the biscuit!

By the end of the challenge we had raise £9000, with donations still coming in and being counted! Although (at the end of the 24 hours) we hadn’t raised as much as we did in 2015, as there were less people participating this year, we did do better averagely per person!

All that was left to do was get the rafts out the water, take few hundred more selfies, and get ready for the evening’s celebrations!

 

Aftermath

Thankfully this year there were only 3 of us on our floor that did the challenge so we didn’t have to fight over who got the shower first like last year!

Our ‘closing ceremony’ was held at the Fern in the Village, where we were speeches were given (I’m writing up this few weeks since the event so can’t tell you names of everyone or what was said sorry), and we all received a t-shirt & certificate. I spent most of the evening catching up with David Baker & Mr Ridley, who despite no longer working at WMA anymore still came to support us for the whole 24 hours!

 

You can still donate to Sail4Cancer, there is a button to the left of this text that will take you to my donation page, otherwise you can click the link here, otherwise here is Team Warsash’s donation page.

This is the end of my #WMALRC16 blog, sorry it took so long to upload, and thank you for sticking through a very long & disjointed post! I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported us in the challenge, through sponsors, messages & tweets, and on the pontoon.  My special thanks does go out to Ian Arnold, Jonathon Ridley, David Baker, Natasha Laishley,Andrew ‘the freaky wave’, the members of the Warsash Association, Survitec, and all others that made the challenge possible.

 

ONE DAY MORE #WMALRC16

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It is that time of year again! This time tomorrow we will be a few hours into this years Life Raft Challenge, for those of you who somehow still don’t know what this is, (where have you been?!) 30odd Warsash students will be spending 24 hours in a life raft on the River Hamble. This is all in aid of Sail4Cancer, a charity that grants respite care to the people and families who’s lives are affected by cancer. This is the third year WMA has had a team doing this challenge, and my second time partaking.

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Last year Team Warsash managed to raise £13000 for the charity, paying for 13 families to go on hoilday, which for who don’t have much time left to have enjoyable experiences this money made a huge difference.

Now, meet Team Warsash! Unfortunately I had a Met lecture when these photos were being taken, so I’m not in them, but this is pretty much us.

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Like last year I will be tweeting through out the challenge (as long as my phone last) on @PoshPigeonDMF, and using the #WMALRC16 tag, so you can all be kept up to date, also check out WMA’s twitter for more updates! My pal @thefreakywave has been doing some cartoons for me and I’m hoping will carry on throughout the challenge animating what is going on! Here is a few that he’s sent already *Can’t upload them all now but will do when my computer starts playing ball*!

l6kaIs-n  I did try my hand at the whole vlogging the week lead up, but its really awkward just talking to a camera, I really don’t know how people can do it, but I will be getting few more videos and photos tomorrow and during the challenge, so watch this space for my vlogging debut! And again like last year, I will be doing an overall blog, but I might not get that done till next weekend so don’t panic when it’s still not here Monday morning!

Those of you remember last year I had Harry Potter Audiobook to keep me going, this year I’m probably going to do similar, just haven’t decided on what book yet! My current debate though is what snacks I’m going to buy in Tesco in a wee while, and weather I can fit in my foul weather gear while wearing two onesies!

Last but not least to find out more about Sail4Cancer, and the Life Raft Challenge click here, to sponsor Team Warsash as a whole, click here, and to sponsor me personally here. There is a donate button, over there <<< somewhere, I think under my Instagram feed, which will take you directly to my page.

Thank you all who have already donated, and I’ll see you on the other side!