This August, Cdt Cpl Robert Abel, aged 18, was amongst 12 cadets from around the British Isles got the fabulous opportunity to be part of a six-day expedition around the Scottish coast and to Northern Ireland with the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland on their 72” yacht, Alba Venturer. Cadet Corporal Abel reports;
Throughout the week we experienced large variations in weather conditions, from no wind to force 6 winds. This meant we were continually changing the sails in rough seas, leading to a steady improvement in how our teams worked together and our knowledge of sailing. Most of the cadets that went on the expedition had minimal – if any, sailing experience; yet by the end of the week, due to working well as a team and helping each other, we all gained the RYA Competent Crew Certificate and sailed the vessel by ourselves for two full days, including the entering and leaving of ports, independent of staff assistance. Throughout the week we were given several drills such as “man overboard” to train us in the event of emergencies as well as being taught how to man a dinghy, learn naval navigation, rope tying and also how control the vessel.
Despite the week being both mentally and physically strenuous, we all thoroughly enjoyed it due to the comradery of everyone on board and also viewing some of Scotland’s greatest scenery. My particular favourite was that some of the group were able to see a pod of dolphins swimming along side us, with a backdrop of a rainbow in moonlight when on a night shift.
In all we travelled 270 nautical miles and visited the ports of Tarbert, Greenock, Holy Loch and Bangor (Northern Ireland) throughout the week and, despite half of the group suffering from seasickness, everyone remained fully involved in the working of the vessel and at no point took a back seat.
Myself and everyone else on the expedition and would recommend it without hesitation to any cadet who is willing to push themselves and work closely in a team. Finally, I would like to thank all the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland staff involved for all their guidance on the vessel as well as Mrs. Adelle and Sqn. Ldr. Mike Blakey Glossop from HQ Air Cadets for their help in the organising and leading of the expedition.