Category Archives: Phase 1 -WMA

Elle’s Adventure One Year On

Hello! Hope you all had a great Christmas, I certainly am having a gorgeous time at home with my family and friends! I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I started my cadet ship with Maritime London, at Warsash Maritime Academy . I thought I’ll let you know what the past twelve months has given me, on the biggest adventure of my life! For those of you who’ve read my blogs as I’ve gone through have probably heard a lot of this before, and I apologies for any repetitiveness.

As you should all know I’ve wanted to be a Merchant Navy Deck Officer from a young age, and had put a lot of research in to various different companies, despite all this research I still didn’t know what type of ship I wanted to work on – some days I had no clue, some day it was defiantly a cruise, another a tanker and so on. This is why I was drawn to a cadetship through Chiltern Martitime, I couldn’t think of anything better then while training getting to experience various areas of the shipping industry, and what’s more, as I’m sponsored by Maritime London, I get an insight into aspects of the shipping industry that many cadets may not even know about, when it comes to shore based involvement.

Our first couple of weeks at WMA was very much ‘death by powerpoint’, this ranged from safety and security, to overviews of what it’s like to be a Merchant Navy Officer, and what subjects we’d be studying. However, it was broken up a wee bit by ice breakers , team building, and recreational activities. My favourite being sailing, followed by paintballing!

Having read back in my previous blogs, I’ve realised that a lot of the specific memories I have of having fun with other cadets, were actually in my first week, and not throughout the term, which I remember them being as. This isn’t saying that once the first week was over I didn’t talk to anyone, just that despite having only know each other a few days, a lot of us – especially those on the same floor – gelled really well, and instantly made strong friendships. Also in our first week or so disease struck campus, most universities it’s common for a case of ‘fresher’s flu’ to break out, however we are not a normal university, for us it wasn’t just a bit of a cold that went round, no, we had a bit of a mumps epidemic, which at one point did leave me as one the only members of our friendship group that hadn’t gone home ill.

Of course college is not all about fun, we do do learning here, and lots of it! In my first phase I had nine different subjects, these being;

  • Ship Stability
  • Dry Cargo Operations
  • Wet Cargo Operations
  • Chartwork
  • Navigational Aids
  • Celestial Navigation
  • Tides
  • Terrestrial Navigation, and
  • Maritime  Analytical Methods (Maths).

Each subject is interesting in their own way, but I did have my favourites, both in subject themselves, and the lectures taking the subjects. I think my favourite on both accounts was Stability, I especially enjoyed the fact that it was so captivating, every lesson we would be solving problems, doing maths calculations, and always building on knowledge from prior lectures. Our lecturer for the subject was also very good at his job, and would always make time to help, or go through something that anyone didn’t quite understand, whether that being in the lecture or outside of it.

Chartwork, Terrestrial, Tides and Celestial were also hand on in the sense of work wise. I have an interest in Astronomically, and did Astrophysics during my A-Levels, however that did not prepare me for how confusing celestial was to start of with. It wasn’t till probably a couple of weeks before our exam that everything seemed to fit into place and make sense.

Chartwork and Terrestrial to me, felt right, it was what I wanted to do, learning about getting from A to B, and the basic principles needed to do this.

My geography background both helped, and hindered me when it came to tides. Because I had spend at least four years studying coastal land forms, and the reasons for their existence, I already knew a lot of the theory needed for the subject. However, I am a human geography girl, and not a physical, which meant I came to despise coastal studies.

Cargo Operations was interesting, but the lectures weren’t, a lot of them were just reading and looking at powerpoints. Despite this it did give me some ideas of what ships I would like to experience, the top of my list being a reefer, and I was actually quite surprised at how much I had learnt. This became apparent while on board my second ship.

In March I took part in the 24 Hour Life Raft Challenge. This was such a fantastic experience,  though I wouldn’t like to have to do it in real circumstances! There is a pretty much hour by hour blog post here, if you didn’t read it, which I was later asked to format into a article to appear in Warsash Association’s All Hands!

Those of you who don’t know what this was, it’s pretty what is says on the tine. A team of us spent 24 hours in a liferaft, in aid of Sail4Cancer, a charity which provided respite care for families who’s lives have been affected by cancer.

In the short amount of space I have here I can’t go in to details about the experience, I do urge you to read the full blog, cause it’s so more insightful. But I am so glad I was able to be part of this team, and do my part for such and amazing cause.

At the end of Phase 1, I took part in various short course, unfortunately I didn’t really take many photos from these (some below I took, some are what a friend took, some are from the WMA website, couple are just google). These short courses included, but were not limited to;

  • Fire fighting,
  • First Aid,
  • Sea Survival,
  • Knot Tying , and,
  • Lifeboat Handling.

Now a lot of you that know me, know that I am rather pryophobic (fear of fire). My first morning of fire fighting, I was terrified putting a small chip pan fire out, the next day I was in a 260 degree room, fighting an actual fire. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in all my life! It wasn’t till later that week that I sat down, and thought about what I had actually done, and realised how proud I was at myself.

The rest of that week was made up of first aid, I don’t think I really have to tell you what that involves, I’m sure everyone has at least some understanding, and Sea Survival. The morning of Sea Survival started in the classroom learning about what we have on board to a) help us survive, b) help us signal for assistance. This included immersion suits, which you can see being expertly modeled above.

The afternoon was spent in the pool, putting into practice what we had learnt earlier in the day. This involved climbing into a liferaft from the water, jumping off a 3m platform, swimming as a group, and turning a life raft the right way up. Our final exercise of the day was putting all these skills into action. This was done in the form of an emergency drill, with normal lights off, and flashing lights on, along with sirens and spray. We started by jumping off the platform again, mustering as a group in the water, and swimming together to a raft. Once we were all inside, we had to follow the procedures that would be done in the situation, such as (pretending to) light flares, bail out water, and check everyone’s status.

On July 8th I joined my first ship, the THV Galatea, in Swansea. At first the wanderlustic girl in me found it difficult to warm to the idea of staying around the UK, but now I find it difficult to believe there would be a better first ship! I spent 3 months on board, and sailed nearly all the way around the UK. (The larger photo does not belong to me).

In my first few day we had heliops (Helicopter Operations) off Lundy South Light, myself and the other deck cadet shadowed the 2/O on watch, and was shown and explained things on the bridge. We also made a passage plan from Breaksea Buoy to Morte Bay, which was approximately 40 miles, we first did this on the paper charts, and was then shown the ECDIS and transferred it to electronic chart. As we steamed I spent the afternoon taking fixes to mark our position on the chart, done by visual bearings, along with radar bearings and ranges. A few days later we also had heliops of the Eddystone Lighthouse.

During my first week Captain Wayne showed me the anti-healing system, and the online weather and tide forecasters, the latter factors determined where we were going that day, and where we would anchor overnight. Many times I watched as buoys was picked out the water, cleaned, serviced and returned, while this was going on the Captain showed me how to do a work log. One night we decided to go to Penzance and stay overnight, so I got the charts out the correct folio, and laid them out for the second officer who I watched plan the route was copied on to the paper charts from the electronic. I also learnt how to use the AIS, log the weather at the end of a watch and the mast lights. As we got closer to the ETA returned to the bridge to watch what the Captain did when we went to anchor, where I was put in charge of the radio to the chippy controlling anchor, I got so tongue tied! That night I saw the most amazing sunset, this photo (as pretty as it is) doesn’t even do it justice!

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Most of the trip (each trip was 3 weeks – crew change on every third Wednesday) continued like this. Eight till five shadowing the 2/O’s on watch, though I did watch on deck sometimes when buoys were being serviced. There were also times where I completed things on my own, or with the 2/O maintenance on board, this included checking the right things were in the right cupboards, and that all the boats (we have 4 on board, a P28, a Workboat, a rescue boat, and a ‘rubber duck’ aka a RIB) were in working order, and being shown and taught more about entering enclosed spaces, and the procedures done prior to that.  I had a few days of getting very wet, this was due to checking fire fighting equipment, or cause I went out on the work boat to check a lighthouse.

We ended the trip with an MCA audit looking at SMC, ISSC, ILO and MLC (please don’t ask me what all them letters stand for cause I’ve forgotten, I know MLC is Maritime Labour Convention). The day started with a meeting, and documents review. And followed by Interviews with the Master, Chief, Chief Engineer, and some other members of the crew. During these meetings things that were discussed included, Masters Review, Internal Audits, SMS, Deck Maintenance Emergency Preparedness, Shipboard Operations, Food and Wages, along with checking certification of all members of crew was in order. Before lunch we also had a emergency drill. The scenario of this drill was that a smoke detector had gone off in the paint locker, and I made the announcement over the PA system for the incident party, as named on the muster list, to check it out. They confirmed there was a fire and the Fire Alarm was sounded. During this drill I was on the Bridge (however for exercises purposes they needed a missing person so my name was given to a manikin who got trapped in the paint cupboard). During the drill I shadowed the captain following the set steps, along with keeping communications with other areas of the ship and relaying information back to the other cadet who was record keeping. The drill lasted just over 15 minutes and the auditor was very impressed by the conduct off all the crew. The audit was a fantastic one where we had no deficiencies, which the captain said ‘it’ll be a long time before that would happen again’ and that it’s taken him over 30 years to have an audit that has resulted in no deficiencies.

The day after crew change I started working daily with the crew, this was also the day we set sail to Oban, Scotland’s West Coast. This day I spent doing PMs (Planned Maintenance), which started by climbing up the crane, one the AB’s Ian, showed me how to use the crane and explained all the mechanics inside it then I got climb on top and walk over the top of it. This wasn’t just for the walk we were up there greasing the mechanics and checking that everything was in order. We also carried out maintenance on the P28 and the workboat, along with greasing pulleys.

We Arrived in Oban Saturday morning, we were there until Sunday evening, as we had a lot of cargo to load. Along with the work we did get to have an explore of the area! I don’t think I’ve been to a more beautiful place – plus I got a Irn-Bru ice cream, which was amazing.

On the Wednesday I swapped roles with the other cadet, to do a week of watches, where I was on the 4-8. By this time we had sailed over the top to Scotland and had arrived at the Isle of May, near Edinburgh. Here we were having over 200 lifts with the helicopter, due to this there was little I did navigational wise while on watches, however this time was beneficial in learning  what other tasks the Second Officer carries out on a day to day basis.These tasks included taking gyro errors, manipulating tidal data, and apparently posing for photographs.

On our way to Harwich I took a field trip with 2/O James, the ETO Mike, and the ETO cadet, to Longstone Light Vessel, as everyone was telling me horror stories about how disgusting light vessels are, as they’re usually covered in bird poo, and dead fish and birds, along with how rough it is on them, I was not looking forward to the trip.  Saying this I got on board and it was super clean and didn’t smell at all! Both the officers were also surprised at its condition. While on board myself and James tested/checked things such as the fire extinguishers, first aid kits were in order and that all hatches and doors were sufficiently greased. As light vessels are unmanned for great lengths of time and enclosed, we needed to open all ventilation before we entered the rooms, we also needed to test the atmosphere as we walked around, and most importantly before entering any rooms to make sure that oxygen levels were sufficient. Once this was done we joined the ETO’s who were checking the light, and the fog signal system. As the fog signal system took a while to sort, and the weather was beautiful, James and I may have done a little bit of relaxing in the sun while watching the seals in the water.

My week on deck mainly consisted of stripping paint of the bits in the focstle, then painting them again. Which I’m not going to go into details about, as I don’t want you all to get too excited about 3 days of painting, I know, it really is such a thrilling subject, so I apologise. Between the exciting times of painting I helped on deck as we serviced multiple buoys, including ones in Whitby and many around Holy Island, Northumbria, as we made our way toward Harwich for crew change.

While doing the buoys I mainly spent my times on the lines that kept the buoy from swaying when the crane was picking it up and moving it, but I also helped with many other things such as changing anodes, and testing the lights worked correctly, two of which did not – but that was okay cause I “could just sit on top with a torch for few weeks” as the chief said.

The Monday before crew change day we steamed overnight from Whitby area to Yarmouth area, as I had never taken part in an overnight steam, I asked if I could shadow 2/O Steph on her 12 to 4 watch. This was great because she taught me lot of things that I needed to know, or knew of, that might not be taught in college. It was really interesting to see how steaming at night compared to steaming during the day, obviously everything was the same, but at the same time it was different. It was odd being on the bridge with it all complete darkness and screens as dim as possible, and only being able to see the lights of other vessels.

My afternoon watch consisted of a pilotage in to Harwich which was also interesting to see. Having spent a few day with a pilot in Barrow is was to see how it compared. Both from the side of going on to the ship with the pilot, and being made a drink, to welcoming a pilot on board and making the tea myself, but also the differences in how the pilot worked, and also Harwich is a wee bit bigger then barrow, and just a tiny bit busier, seeing as there’s StenaLine Ferries going in and out all day, and one of the / the biggest container ship terminals in the UK, there’s a fair bit of difference.

The coolest thing I think I’ve seen on the bridge of the Galatea was watching as the survey equipment in use, when a fishing vessel sank in the English Channel/ Dover Straits. As we approached the area where it was last reported we observed much debris in the water, on the broadcast it stated that there was a white dan buoy indicating where it was, however we did not see this. The hydrographic survey equipment on board was able to show us a picture of the seabed.  When an area of lower depth was witnessed, the ship sailed over the area in various directions, this bought up an image on the computer screen of the fishing vessel. Due to the small size of it and the depth of water it had sank it it was deemed unnecessary to be marked with a buoy, so we left it and went on our way.

My second Light Vessel lived up to the horror stories, well not completely, I do think the stories were a bit exaggerated, but the Varne was covered, and smelt so bad, but as the weather was nice, and not too hot it wasn’t all that bad. The problems came after lunch, when the rain and the wind came. I spent doing much the same things I did on the Longstone, but the after lunch I pretended to be an ETO, and as I used cable ties, electrical tape and used the words “turn the breaker on” I think I nailed it… Most of my afternoon did consist of telling the real ETOs when the light was flashing out of character – which was most of the time. Rough weather did start to pick up as we were to get off, with it taking a good 20 minutes between the work boat trying to come alongside, and getting one, a lot of that time was taken up by myself hanging off the side of the vessel waiting for a safe time to be able to get in the boat. The problem with the light on this vessel means that there has now been 3 day where the ETO has been on board, and a separate day where the Galatea sat just off from it observing the light. It’s safe to say that I’m starting to dislike light vessels. Saying this because the location of the Varne Light Vessel, in the middle of the English Channel just off from Dover. It has been very useful, to learn and see traffic separation scheme in action, along with a good bit of ship spotting during the day.

While sat just off from the vessel I’ve partaken in a fire, an enclosed space entery, and an emergency steering drill, along with carrying out tasks in ‘Adam’s Cadet fun pack’, which is various PMs that 2/O Adam needs doing, such as testing the emergency lighting, and torches, and muster lists of 2 of the 3 on board boats, the SOPEP equipment and the boat deck stores.

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My final trip was made up of being around the same areas as the third, and was mostly spent on deck. Again my first week was spent taking part in planned maintenance, mostly greasing equipment and testing it works properly.

The first day of my last trip we I found out that a class one buoy had sunk, and we had to retrieve and replace it ASAP. The retrieving was done by lowering a hook over the side of the ship and grappling it; due to the higher risk of danger with this I observed it from the bridge.

I also learnt how to chip, using a vibrating needle gun, and feather with a grinder. This was needed doing in preparation for the Heli Deck to be repainted.

On September 24th I turned 21, and was surprised by the whole crew singing me happy birthday with presents, cake and prosecco in the mess. Being my first birthday both away from my family and being at sea, I am so grateful that everyone, especially 2/Os Steph and James, put so much effort in and made my birthday special.

I left the ship six days after my birthday, and was sad to leave. Again I would love to thank both crews of the THV Galatea for being so accommodating and giving me such a fantastic experience. As I’ve been told when I’ve thanked people personally ‘it’s their job to teach cadets and make us welcome’, but I feel everyone has gone beyond that to welcome myself and other cadets on board, and make sure we’re learning and happy. I just now fear that no other ship I’m on in my cadetship will live up to the standard provided by Trinity. I said within my third week that I would like to return to Trinity House one day as a qualified officer, and I still stand by that.

On October 15th I joined the Commodore Goodwill in Falmouth Dry Dock. Goodwill, a Ro-Ro freight ferry operating between Portsmouth and the Channel Islands, was a completely different experience to what I was used to.  (This is an old photo of the ship, and does not belong to me).

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Again when I was told what I was going to be on I was bit disappointed that I wasn’t going further afield, but if I learnt anything from the Galatea, it was that where you went didn’t change how good time on board would be, and that our wee island is actually a pretty awesome place. I had also spoken to Cadets who had been on before me, and despite their feedback not being entirely positive, I made sure I went with a blank slate, so I could make up my own mind. I can see why those cadets may have not particularly enjoyed their time here. Though saying that I did not regret being on board, as I chose to apply for my cadetship through Maritime London / Chiltern so I could experience various types of shipping and work with many different people, and from there decide what I like and don’t like. Also despite the negatives, I learnt a lot and gained lots of experience. I particularly enjoyed learning about cargo operations, I just don’t think back and forward to the same places everyday is for me.

I joined ship in Falmouth Dry Dock, and after a 12hour journey all I wanted was to get in

my cabin and go to bed. Instead I spent 20mins wandering round the ship, which at the time, had various holes in the deck and work going on, I felt as if the ship were not expecting a cadet which was a shame.. I was really looking forward to dry dock experience thinking I’d get loads of hands on tasks to do, however most of the work was being done by outside contractors… I cleaned two lifeboats, put up some signs, had a look in some tanks, and spent the rest of the time (over a week) in my cabin or conference room studying. I did like Falmouth itself, would love to go back, was the bonus of getting to see some friends while ashore.

After two weeks in dry dock we finally started floating, and I instantly felt better. My first few day on watch I checked all the Fire Extinguishers, EEBDs, HRUs, Life Jackets, Immersion Suits, Foam Stations, Lifeboats, Fire Fighting Stations, Breathing Apparatus and more. Despite the Chief Mate not being too happy that I had done all the 2/O’s jobs for him, I didn’t really mind as I got a taster of what it would be like to be a Third Officer.

When I’m on deck doing cargo operations I’m mainly lashing trailers to the deck, but often I do get to do some parking. I became a lot happier, both mentally and in comfort wise since I stopped hoping my TO would explain to me what’s going on and what I’m meant to do, and started relying on the OS’s, who have had no problem explaining all aspects of loading and discharging.

The daily agenda on board, was arriving in Guernsey around 0400, discharging any freight that needed to be discharged and taking more on, doing the same in Jersey around 0600, and again in Portsmouth between 1630 and 1930. Our cargo was mostly the backs of lorries, therefore a tug (like a smaller, more maneuverable version of a lorry cab) would connect to the trailer. When the trailers were being loaded they had to be rested on a trestle at the forward end, before the tug could disconnect, once this was done the trailer was chained, or lashed, to the deck, making sure that it would not move,

even with the break on. The amount of chains used (normally 4 or 6) would depend on various conditions, including, but not limited to;

* the weight of the trailer and cargo,

* the center of gravity of the trailer,

* the type of cargo carried,

* the expected weather conditions, and,

* the size of the trailer.

This process is following the guild lines specified in the Code of Safe Working Practices.

Things did improve on board, as I worked with different 2/Os, however due to the watch keeping times, and the heavy weather we experienced I found myself getting more and more worn out, longing for study days to arrive just to get a few hours decent sleep in. Where most ships have six 4hour watches (four hours on, eight off, four on, eight off), or four 6hour (six on, six off, six on, six off) watches in a 24 hour period, the Goodwill worked on ‘5s&7s’, being broken in to 0030-0530, 0530-1230, 1230-1930 and 1930-0030. This really was difficult for my body get used too. These watches were spent between the bridge and cargo ops.

As time went on I found myself much happier (and stronger) working on the upper vehicle deck. I also became more confident especially when I was in charge of the deck and was more like the 2/O was shadowing me other then the other way round. Yes, there were some ABs that plain out refused to listen to what I said, but otherwise, all was better.

During my time on the bridge I completed my steering ticket, which was both very exciting, and rather quiet worrying, know that you’re in control of the ship, and

especially on pilotages into port, or in heavy traffic, making one mistake could be drastic. I had to complete 10 hours of steering, with various criteria to tick off during this. This meant that I steered, both by day and night, in open water and in narrow channels, and in different traffic densities.

At first I found large turns difficult to not over shoot, especially when coming into port with an ever decreasing speed. However as I practiced and watched what the helmsman did, along with realising lot of it came from basic AS Level physics, I managed to, well I wont say perfect the skill, but I think I did pretty well. I found myself setting challenges, both when turning and also keeping a steady heading especially in rougher weather. This started as I wont deviate/overshoot more the 10 degrees, then 7 degrees, and getting progressively lower, until my last time steering in to Portsmouth, the biggest difference I got, was 2 degrees, and that was only on a few occasions!

As thankful as I was for the opportunity to train, and sail on the Commodore Goodwill, I was very relieved when my disembarkation date came as I was looking forward to getting home the next day and spending Christmas with my family.

Like I started with, I don’t regret being on board as I gained some very valuable experiences, not just in the tasks I completed, but also being shown how we should act and treat our colleagues in a working environment. Unfortunately, I encountered some negative experiences with some of my fellow Officers and crew on this vessel however I want to put this behind me and move on. I knew that this was a possibility, as it is in any working environment and my experience has been reported back to my Training Company for follow up.

Just so you know I’ve have been back at WMA for less then a week, for phase three, and already find myself craving more knowledge (especially an meteorology – which the

geography girl in me is very excited about – and voyage planning), making new friend, and enjoying catching up with old ones.

I’d like to take the time to thank you for taking the time to read, sorry it’s been quite a long post, and everyone who’s made it possible for me to be hear now, even a year on I’m still having to pinch myself cause I can’t believe I’m finally getting close to my lifelong dream. Here’s to a great 2016, wherever it may take us (which is hopefully at least one of the many countries on my bucket list!)

 

EDH

So after exams come short courses. These are pretty much teaching us all the practical stills we will need (though hopefully not all have to use) while at sea. Our main four courses include within them: Sea Survival, Fire Fighting, First Aid, Knot Tying, Abandoning Ship, Life Boat Drills and Entering an Enclosed Space. Please note most the photos have not been taken by me but either a friend, or are from WMA website.

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Our first course was Efficient Deck Hand, which was 2 days long, this was mostly made up of rope work, and also looking at various pieces of equipment that we would find on a ship’s deck.

In our first morning we started by learning the different types of rope. Did not realise how many types there was. Fascinating. After that spent time learning how to splice rope. This is where you form a semi-permanent joint between two ropes or two parts of the same rope by interweaving their strands. The purpose of this can be to form a stopper at the end of a line,  a loop / eye in a rope, or for joining two ropes together.

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In the afternoon we went on to learning to tie knots (always exciting), most I knew, some I didn’t. My main trouble was with a bowline, I always knew the “you make  a six, rabbit comes out the hole, goes round the tree and back down the hole”, like I learnt it when I did my Level 2 Power Boating course, however this didn’t seem to be working out properly. Now I consider myself a fairly bright person, I know which way my sixes go, however, when I asked our instructor how to do it, he made a ‘d’ shape… A ‘d’is a backwards 6 how did that work?!

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How to tie a bowline.

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Some of the knots we learnt.

Also in the afternoon we had a play on the Bosun’s Chair, and painters bench. A Bosun’s (or Boatswain’s) chair, is basically a plank and rope, on which you sit and pull yourself up side of a ship, be that the hull, the funnel or whatever and is usually used for painting and maintenance of area too high (or far below) the deck.

Like in climbing we had two people, one on the ground looking after the rope, one in the chair. Once we were so high we had to tie ourselves off so that we we hanging in the air without the support or our partner, before letting ourselves down.

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The painting bench was pretty much the same, however it seated two of us, and we started up high and had to lower down, but making sure we went at the same rate.

Day two of our EDH started with a conversation about dogging and whipping, behave, its not as rude as it sounds. When you do announce over the table at pizza express with friends and their parents (one of which is a vicar) that you have been learning about whipping and dogging some explanation is needed… I’m still not exactly sure what dogging is. Whipping is taking a string and winding it around the main bit of rope to stop it unraveling. This is better then splicing the rope, as slicing makes the thickness increase, and this doesn’t, but it does take time. Due to the time element, its usually just done with tape…

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The final part of the course was about mooring procedure, nothing special to say there except I heard that when group two did this part the course this week, while throwing the mooring line, in the car park, one person misjudged the throw and ended up hitting someone in the face with a monkey fist.

That’s all our EDH course done, well until phase 5 done. Don’t forget that I’m currently taking part in the RNLI’s H2Only challenge at the moment. It’s my 6th day just drinking water, and yes I really want a milshake, but other then that I’m okay with just water. You can find out more about the challenge by clicking here, and sponsor me at my Just  Giving page here. You can also sponsor me by texting EPWH94 to 70070.

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Thanks 🙂

The Three Queens

Okay it’s been a long time since I properly blogged, sorry guys! Main reason I haven’t blogged was due to exams, which some I passed, some I didn’t. Though I knew I had messed up on, despite doing multiple practice papers in the lead up :(. Due to the amount of things that has happen I’m going to post a few smaller posts then one long one. For this post I don’t have many words, more just pictures!

So yes I do admit have become a little bit of a spotter in the past few months (not with a notebook and anorak – don’t worry), so you could understand how excited I was when it came to the day that ‘the three queens’, Cunard’s cruise liners; Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria & Queen Elizabeth, all sailed past Warsash together.

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This was the time table we were given for when the Queens would pass various places. Looking at this I decided they would pass us around half five, so myself and Skye left the cabin at 1645 in order to walk down the beach a bit to a good viewing spot. However, it wasn’t till gone half six that the Queens actually passed us!

While waiting The Anthem of the Seas and the Balmoral did pass us, which was nice but we were waiting for the queens! As you can tell by the photos it wasn’t the nicest of day, and even with wind and waterproof coats, both myself and Bamb were freezing, and we were both glad to have a flask of tea.

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Finally after what seemed like hours, Queen Mary 2 came through the fog! Yayyyy! I genuinely never seen so many people on the shore of the Solent, nor so many cameras in my  life!

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If it were a nicer day I would’ve loved to watch the vessels continue on their voyage as they navigated around ‘The Island’, however, it was gone seven when we started heading back to Campus and we were too cold to stay out any longer.

Some of these photos were taken by Skye Callaghan.

What I did in my holidays, by Elle Watson aged 20 and a half.

Okay so I’m not going to detail every little thing, like you have to in primary school on the first day of the Autumn term, like the title of this blog suggests, but I did get up to quite a bit during the break.

Practically every day I was either seeing friends/family, doing coursework, or/and getting some work experience within the shipping industry. My sister was back for both weekends of the holidays too, and my grandparents came over quite a few days so it was really nice to just chill with the family, watch some silly films (namely ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, and ‘Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists’). I also felt so good to be back in my kitchen, and able to cook! Even if I was out most days so didn’t get the chance to cook often.

I didn’t buy my (non related) nephew and Easter egg – I know I’m horrible – but he did already have loads! Instead I did get him some very nice felt ships & boats, and a brochure, signed by Zizi Strallen & Kerry Ellis, from CATS the Musical, which he loves, so I’m not in the bad books. While at WMA I do miss him and his family/the CAST fam loads so was great to have a couple of days with them. I got to see some the older CAST guys when we went for a charity pub crawl, raising money for this years show ‘Barnum’, in which I collected over £120, so I’m pretty proud that!

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CAST family portrait, before the crawl

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Teaching Oliver about the Shipping Industry

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Proud little guy with his CATS merch

Along with other friends who I spent hour chatting and laughing with, even telling bedtime stories too. This was the 7-year-old from archery, not anyone my age… That would be a bit weird, especially as it was about Pterrance the Pterodactyl (the ‘P’ is silent), and robots. I was making it up as I went along…

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I spent three days in the pier-head, at Barrow-In-Furness dock, with the hope to learn a little more about port operations. My days started at 5am, which was a little tough as I had missed my double bed while at Warsash, but it was all worth it.

My first day started with a safety briefing, and learning about the radio communications between the pier-head and vessels, during my first few hours there was much conversation over the radio as approximately 20 smaller vessels (25m) went out to the local off shore wind farms.

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Sea Ferret Wind Farm Vessel

While on a tour of the port/docks I witnessed Wind, a platform vessel from Denmark move from one berth to another opposite to it.This move was so that the Oceanic Pintail, a PNTL nuclear flask ship could move from the dock to the berth. I was lucky enough to get on the bridge and shadow the pilot during the manoeuvre.

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During that day I also got the chance to go on a pilot vessel to meet a pilot of the Causeway, which is carrying out dredging in Barrow, and watch, and operate gates/locks controlling water levels in the port.

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My 2nd and 3rd day were made up of going out on a pilot vessel to meet the City of Cardiff and shadow the pilot, who had before shown and explained the process in making a passage plan, and learning about the what happens when I comes into port, and its cargo discharging operations, and then shadowing the pilot as he took her out on the Saturday.

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I found these few days very valuable, especially as it reinforced things that I had learnt in class and on paper, by seeing them in action, especially tides. I also learnt a lot regarding port operations, and hope this will come in useful in the future, I’m sure it will.

(Please note these pictures have been taken from google, I do not own them)

I finished my Easter break by spending the weekend with my best mate Amy in London. Friday night we saw Made In Dagenham, on its third to last show in the West End. Those of you that don’t know the story, it’s based on when the women working at Ford Car Factories in Dagenham (and Liverpool) went on strike in the fight for equal pay for both men and women. The show was both hilarious and moving in the right quantities. The cast was fantastic! I do have to say that to start with I didn’t rate bond girl Gemma Arterton (who was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical, in last night Olivier Awards), I’m still not sure if that’s cause I was rooting for Tamsin Grieg to win (her sister is my maths teacher – claim to fame!), or because I felt the whole cast was strong, and at times stronger than her! I especially rated Emma Lindars – wow! What. A. Voice. Despite not initially rating Gemma Arterton, she strengthened all the way through, and during the final number ‘Stand Up’ she really won me over, and deserved the standing ovation she got after it.

That’s pretty much it for what I did on my holidays. As great as it was to be home for the couple of weeks I’m glad to be back at ‘sash. I already feel so much more productive and studious, just by being back, and it’s fantastic to see everyone again. In 34 days exam week starts, which means I probably wont be blogging much until that’s done! Hope you all had a great bank holiday, and enjoy the sunshine, laters 🙂

Training Home For Easter – doesn’t have the same ring to it as Driving Home For Christmas

So that’s my first term at Warsash done and I’ve loved it! Going to be strange going back with friends (especially those on my floor) who started engineering course in September going to have left and gone to sea, and HND’s that I joined with going to Sea a week after we get back.
In the past 9 weeks I’ve learnt:
– About buoyancy’s, frees surface movement, load lines, and small and large angle stability.
– How to plot a bearing, water track, ground track and much more
– How to plot on a radar to find 2 vessels closes point of approach
– Planing a course using Plane, Mercator and Great Circle Sailing
– How to calculate when high and low tide is at various ports around the world
– About taking bearings off a star or planet, calculating time at an exact place on the globe
– How a magnetic compass works, and how to cancel out as much magnetic interaction from the ships infrastructure.
– About how to load and unload various cargoes, and the importance of safety around cargo, and cleaning a tank
– and lots more!

I have also taken place in Sail4Cancer’s 24 Hour Life Raft Challenge, which the previous blog is focused on. Also, the blog that I posted about the Life Raft has been edited in to an article format as my Liaison Officer would like to have it published in a magazine for previous Warsash cadets and officers. The challenge has raised over £13 thousand so far.

Most importantly I have made some fantastic friends, and I found a place where I feel I really belong.

Right now I’m on my way home for two weeks, I have so many past papers and so much revision to do. But I’m also looking forward to seeing my family, friend and especially my cast rehearsal, even if they don’t have rehearsals 😦

Next term we have about 4 weeks of more learning/revision, and then we have exam week mid May. Following exam week is short courses. This includes firefighting, sea survival, tanker familiarisation, first aid and much more.

Hope everyone has a great Easter what ever you are doing and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!

WE DID IT! #WMALRC15

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Well we did! We’re all still alive, and what an experience we had! So far we have raised over £12k, which is enough to send 13 families on holiday which is fantastic! There were some ups and downs of the challenge, and there were times we all wanted to just get off, but we kept on through the 24 hours! The main reason I think we all managed to stay happy throughout the whole time was because we had a great team on the pontoon, blasting out music and sending messages of confidence to us – even bringing nutella at one point! We did also have a bit of a reputation to live up to. In the official Solent blog David Baker, our cadet liaison officer, was quoted in saying:

Last year’s challenge was a great success and this year’s team wants to do just as well, if not better. We’ve even got someone taking part who did it last year!

And Lizette van Niekerk, the fundraising manager at Sail4Cancer said

I’m delighted that Warsash Maritime Academy has put a team together again to take on the life-raft challenge. Last year’s team raised a phenomenal amount of money, which helped us provide much-needed respite breaks for families who are going through a very difficult time. I’m confident that this year’s team will do just as well.

And for all the support myself & team Warsash had, both in those supporting us on pontoon, and those who donated and send messages of good luck, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you.

Team Warsash gathered at the boathouse around 1615, where we were issued with our life jackets, and foul weather gear, all sponsored by Survitec Group, and where we also had our briefing on the challenge. Under my foul weather gear I had pair of tights, leggins, trackies, 2 pairs of socks, a vest, a long sleeve tshirt, a tshirt and a hoodie…. Barnaby had shorts, tshirt and a jumper…

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It was approximately 1710 when we all got on to the rafts and the challenge officially started.

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Hour 1/24

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At first the raft (lemur one, 25 man holding 19 people) was rather comfy and spacious – people were sitting around the edge and roll mats, sleeping bags, quilts, pillows hadn’t been taken out their rucksacks – I took a carrier bag with 2 litre bottle water, 500ml bottle Irn-Bru, 2 packs of cookies, some mints, some sweets, my phone with headphones, spare pair of socks and a coats – sounds a lot, but nothing compared to what some took.

About 5 minutes into the Challenge we heard from lemur 3, a 16 man liferaft holding phase 1 engineers, and phase 3 and 5 cadets had a leak and was full of water. At first we did find this hilarious in our raft, though after seeing how much water they were paling out their raft, I did feel very sorry for them, especially as they were already cold and soaked , with 24 hours to go and a constant stream of water entering the raft.

Our main topic of conversation during the first hour was “Will Dominoes deliver to the rafts?”, and we were told by the guys on the pontoon if we did order a delivery they would bring it to us. However non of us brought any money with us. We did tweet them in the hope we’d get free pizza.

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We didn’t know what the local store is…

In all this hour went pretty quickly.

Hour 2/24

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Hour 2 was quite a slow one with not all that much happening to be honest. The most exciting thing going on in our raft was general chat, while lemur 3 were still baling out water. At one point a jar of stuff olives was passed around – can probably say that’s something that’s has never happened in a liferaft before…

Team Lemur 1

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By 1848 I had lost one the rubber things of my earphones, this made listening to Harry Potter later in the night very uncomfortable!

Hour 3/24

We were told around 7 that dinner would be too long, which was great as we were all getting pretty hungry… Time to break into the cookies! In this hour I also reminded my sister, who early that morning had landed back in the UK that she still needed to sponsor me. She had promised me 50p per other sponsors, however my total jumped from £260 to £310 after her sponsor, and I only had 8 people sponsor me, making it more £6.25 per other person. Thanks for that bean, love you lots!

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Hour 3 also provided us with a lovely backdrop, as the sun set. B__9jm9WAAA-lZP

Hour 4/24

Food!

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Double sausage and chips in paper/plastic bag like you get bakery, if it wasn’t sweaty and soggy it probably would’ve been nice, good old sodexo food – even if I had given up my ‘given up for lent’ of potatoes for the night. By this point it had also got really dark, as you can see in the photos.

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In this hour I started listening to Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire – I began re reading the series in January, but only got to the 4th book when I moved here. It’s amazing how much I can get excited by the Quiditch World cup, even though I had read the book so many times before!

Hour 5/24

This was the hour of interesting music, and the first rumor of the occupants of lemur 3 abandoning ship – non of them left the challenge at this point, however I think some did move to lemur 2.  At one point Adam radioed into based with

“Who is in charge of this f-ing music?!” to which the reply came of

“David Baker is”, at one point My Heart Will Go On came on, and we heard some lovely vocals coming from Lemur 2.

In this hour most the people in my liferaft wanted to settle down and go sleep, this is when the raft started to become very cramped and uncomfortable, I wasn’t really wanting to go to sleep so early, nor was I enjoying being in a raft with people going to sleep or complaining about how much noise and light there is (I get that most nights as it is in my room!) and how they want more room, especially when I could hear the singing from the other rafts.

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Hour 6/24

We were a quarter of the way through our challenge! During this hour a boiled sweet hit me on the bridge of my nose…. Yeah this was an exciting hour!

Though we did get the fantasic new that we had passed the £12,000 mark for Sail4Cancer!

Hour 7/24

By this time the music had been turned off and most people were trying to get some rest, though we did still get support from the pontoon via twitter.

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I had plugged my ear phone back in and back to Hogwarts I went.

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Hour 8/24

Eight hours down, 16 to go and lemur 2 were having a major karaoke sesh, how badly I wanted to join in! However, being farrest away from both the raft doors, and with 7 sleeping mens legs/feet on top my feet it was rather difficult to move! Around 0045 the wind began to pick up, and it did get very loud, was a good job the cover of the liferaft was secure or the wind would’ve made us all VERY cold!

Hour 9/24

The only tweet I sent during this hour was:

Into our 9th hour on the life raft. All seem to have quieted down I’m quite uncomfortable, but still happy, starting to get tired

Hour 10/24

Into double figures! There was lot of noise over the radio from Lemur 3 in this hour – seems someone lost their coat in the river and was asking if the rib could go and look for it – which would been fair enough, if they hadn’t lost it 2 hours before… At this point I was still sitting half upright – which really wasn’t comfy – one leg half bent, with my feet pointing in the wrong directions with 7 heavy legs on top of them. However there was a lot of movement in this hour as quiet a few people got of the raft for a toilet stop. I took this opportunity to get a little comfier!

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Once everyone returned to the raft there was a bit of a ‘spooning train’ going on. It started with Barnaby, who was spooning Mat, who was spooning Dan, who was spooning Leo, who was spooning me, who was spooning Josh, who was spooning Adam, who was spooning Scott, who was spooning Mary, who was spooning Safeguard (he’s under 18 – we have safeguard him), who was spooning James.

During hour 10 many of the team from Lemur 3 returned to their rooms – they had had a constant leak of water into their raft for 10 hours – couldn’t of been easy for them, and it was more the staff suggesting they go and get warm, so not to get ill, then them wanting to drop out, major respect to them all – especially the few that stayed in all night!

Hour 11,12,13,14/24

HALFWAY THROUGH! In these hour I did try and get some sleep, however this was unsuccessful, with tops of 30 minutes during the whole 3 hours. If it wasn’t for Harry, Ron and Hermione it would’ve been a very lonely, long few hours!

Hour 15/24

I got off for my one and only time of the challenge for a wee, and can honestly say as I was walking back up the pier to get back into the raft, I really didn’t wanna back on! I was little bit upset that I got off one time and was back on the raft in 10mins, where as some had 40 mins at a time, and a cuppa when they went for a break!

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Photo of the guys from Lemur 2 – don’t they all look so happy!

Hour 16/24

In to single figure of hour to countdown! It’s a rare sight to see a bunch students awake at 8am, but most of us were! All very groggy, and uncomfortable though. My neck and shoulder were killing me!

Hour 17&18/24

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The sun came out on us! The doors were opened and the cadet nearest them sat on the edges, leaving more space inside. With this little extra comfort I ended up falling asleep for about half and hour – and I must say it was a great sleep! Also really refreshed me! The rest this time I spent listening to a mix of Harry Potter, and the radio that was being blasted over from the pontoon – we were promised we’ll have the Lion King, and the Darkness being played. Three quarters of the way through!

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Hour 1/24

This was a VERY eventful hour. Starting with a bacon bun!CADN01hWwAAztJS

But also a calling of ‘Mayday! Mayday!’ as orange juice as split in Lemur 1. I had managed to get myself to an edge and was happy sitting out the liferaft in the sun!

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If you hadn’t guess the ‘titanic’ was the nickname of Lemur 3, the residents of which, all bar one, returned to their raft to complete the last 7 hours.

Hour 19/24

This was another exciting hour. We had a shoutout on Wave Radio – however we didn’t get to hear much of it as Solent Coastguards did a fly over- which was really cool! They circled a few times and opened the door and gave us a wave! There is a video, however it is on facebook, so I’m unable to embed it but you can view it here.

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Felix – all the way from Angola just to spend 24 hours in a liferaft in Warsash (he is a cadet he didn’t just come from Angola for the challenge)

Hour 20/24

AHHHHHH 4 hours to go! During this hour Mr Ridley – our Ship Stability Lecturer – drove up to our raft in a rib and chucked in 2 bags of haribos, and 19 nutella breadstick things! However, I did have a major disaster when my breadstick snapped at the same level of the nutella and I had to dive in with fingers to save it – which in the end didn’t matter as I had lots of nutella left at the end and used my fingers to eat it anyway!

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Hour 21/24

Surprisingly I was in a good mood, and quite enjoying myself. The sun had gone in and the wind had picked up. I started to get very cold! Colder then I was at any point of the challenge so far! This meant that I alternated between sitting inside the raft and on the edge.

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Hour 22/24

In this hour I learnt that doing the macarena while sat on the edge of a liferaft is not easiest thing to do, no matter how fun it is! In this hour someone mistakenly let Safegaurd have the radio, and he requested the Pina Colada song ever 5 minutes. He did eventually get his request – I think more to shut him up then anything, and Leo gave us a lovely show to ‘lovely bunch of coconuts’ – and that sounds a lot ruder then what it was – he was just miming and dancing along! Somehow Barnaby was still asleep!

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During this hour we also got a visit from the lovely guys in a Hamble Lifeboat. Our main form of entertainment was waving at yachties as they went past for a Saturday sailing sesh, and cheering when they waved back – like you do as a kid on the motorway. At one point I just saw a mast coming toward us (roof of the raft was in the way from seeing the boat itself) and I genuinely thought they were trying to ram us, however they chucked us some chocolate hobnobs and carried on passed us!

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Hour 23/24

2 hour to go! All but one of Lemur 2 were asleep, as were many the lads in our raft. We spent this hour mostly inside the raft as we were all very cold! In this time we decided to find out interesting facts about each other, some examples of this include that Safegaurd’s dad has 3 nipples, and Mary is named after her granddad (false fact – but she is named after someone).

Hour 24/24 

Nearly done ahhhhhhhhh!!!!! During this hour we were pulled into, and tied up to the pontoon, and unload the rafts of our gear, and rubbish, meaning once we finish we could get straight off the rafts. We had a big sing song – The Final Coundown, was obviously the final song to be played, with Solent TV filming. David Baker told us when we had 10 minutes left to which Barnaby responded with

“Great! Nap time!” lay down and went back to sleep! CAEk7KKWsAAfkll

10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1! We had done it! 24 hours in a liferaft! We had Prosecco shaken and sprayed all over us – well when they could open it! I had managed to stay dry for the whole time – and then got soaked by prosecco right at the very end! Click here to watch.

Aftermath

We were asked to stay and help get the liferaft out of the water, before we handed in out foul weather gear (which the majority of us did). Then it was quick shower and and hour before we had to be at the Ferryman pub in the village. In this time I could not get warm! I rang my mum and dad (one the first times since I moved oops), and also rang my sister. I rang Rachel wanting to get the lowdown on NYC, but she wouldn’t tell me till I told her about the challenge!

In the Ferryman David Baker had booked two live bands and a buffet! Lizette van Niekerk told us that we had raised enough to send 13 families, most of whom are single parent families, where the parents have terminal cancer, to Centre Parcs for a final holiday. David Baker called our names one by one and we all got a Tshirt and certificate. When he called out my name, he also added “c’mon Harry Potter” – I’m not fully sure if that’s due to that fact I was listening to it in the raft or when I handed in my form, and photo (which is taken in Harry Potter Studios) for the sponsor page we had a discussion about Harry Potter. I also learnt today that if you hover the mouse over my photo on the Sail4Cancer page it says ‘Ellen Watson (wizard), where everyone just has their names.

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You can still carry on donating, by going to http://www.sail4cancer.org/team-warsash-liferaft-challenge-2015, or clicking here to go to my personal page.

After spending 24 hours in the liferaft I hope I never have to go one again, and as Nat said at the end of the challenge, “I think I’d rather just go down with the ship”! It was a great experience, and we were very lucky weather wise, but I still wouldn’t like to do it again, or for any time longer then a few hours, especially at fully capacity! Sating that I do think there would be more room (with the same amount of people) in a survival situation, due to there not being any large rucksacks etc.

Over the next few days there should be a short film from Solet TV about the challenge, and also Leo was taking a video diary, which I’m sure he’ll put on his youtube page which you can find by clicking this.

Again I would like to express my thanks to all that supported both myself and Team Warsash in our Challenge. I would especially like to thank David Baker, Jonathon Ridley, and all other staff/volunteers who made the challenge possible, and stayed up with us for the 24 hours.

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UPDATE

I will be taking part in this challenge again on Friday 11th & Saturday 12th of March 2016. Like last year I will try to live tweet as much as possible through out the challenge, and will blog it afterward. I’m also hoping to vlog the challenge so hopefully you can all get more of a feeling of what it’s like to spend 24 hours in a floating tent! Click here for this years sponsor form.

 

#WMALRC15

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Well today is the day of the Life Raft Challenge (#WMALRC15) For those you who haven’t heard about this yet (you must’ve been living on Mars as I’ve tweeted, instagramed, facebooked it pretty much everyday) myself and 42 other WMA 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. Last year Team Warsash managed to raise £13000 for the charity, meaning that their waiting lists were more then halved, for families who don’t have !much time left to have enjoyable experiences this money made a huge difference. This year we are hoping to beat this total, and by yesterday we had passed the £10,000 mark. If you would like to know more about the challenge and/or would like to sponsor either myself, or Team Warsash as a whole please click here to be taken to my sponsor page, here for Team Warsash’s, or here to get more information.

I will be tweeting through out the challenge (as long as my phone last) on @PoshPigeonDMF, and using the #WMALRC15 tag, so you can all be kept up to date! And will post a blog on Sunday/Monday about the experiance.

To curb the boredom on the raft taking a pack of cards, lots of sweets and biscuits, I have 21 hours of Harry Potter Audiobooks on my phone, and most importantly I have spare socks!

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