Our youth organisation supports young people (YP) to cope with difficult situations in their lives and to help lessen isolation. We decided to take 5 young people who had been through extraordinary circumstances on a sailing residential this year. These young people had experienced disturbing situations in their life and were experiencing extreme loneliness and were suffering from depression when they arrived at our youth group. We have been working with them to help them navigate the difficult journey in terms of healing and making a life for themselves.
Day 1: We started our day at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, where we were introduced to the crew and were given safety instructions ad information regarding the management of the boat. The young people were allowed to choose their beds, unpack and settle in before Lunch. We then set sailing with all the YP on deck and I immediately sensed that the YP had relaxed and were absorbing the beauty of the water and their surroundings. They were taught how to tie the ropes that were attached to the sails and they eagerly helped the crew. We experienced some choppy weather and received information that the weather was going to be bad the next day, which made the crew change plans. We then docked at the RHYC and the YP took a walk around, vising the beach and simply revelling in it’s beauty. We taught them about algae, which was in it’s plenty, it’s uses and they learnt about the tides. One of the YP wrote down new words that he had learnt, like tides, seal, shark etc. as the YP did not know much English. We then had to return due to the bad weather coming in. The YP settled in very well and helped with the preparation of food, washing and tidying up. The weather was stormy all night, however the ambience of the boat and the fact that we were rocking all night, got us all to sleep like babies. I was especially struck by the fact that the atmosphere both inside and out had contributed to a kind of peace for one YP, allowing for an uninterrupted sleep which is something he otherwise struggled as he suffered from acute insomnia.
Day 2: We rose later considering that we could not go sailing due to the weather and instead planned for a day out in the woods surrounding the Yacht club. We started off just after breakfast and had to stop every 5 minutes for a photo opportunity. We came across oak trees, and taught them how to measure the age of a tree. We walked down to the next town along the coast and they also got a chance to see swans, learnt a bit about them and experienced a houseboat. After we returned to the boat and we cooked lunch, cleaned up and then the YP decided that they wanted to play outdoors. They also took another trip on to the shore, collecting stones and shells. We then took part in some teambuilding exercises which the Skipper and his mate led. This was quite exciting as we all worked wonderfully well together and this was followed by a lesson from the Skipper on how to navigate on the map.
Day 3: The day started early, with very little time for breakfast and everybody was gearing up for a trip to sea. It was quite amazing to see how the YP took on the responsibility of putting up the sails and doing the knots. They worked very hard and took breaks on deck and also took turns steering, which they found very enjoyable. That evening we anchored and the YP were thrilled to see that a seal had taken residence in our dinghy. For all the YP, it was the first time they had seen a seal up close. They took many pictures of the beautiful animal and were talking of it later in the night. The hard work during the day paid off with the YP sinking into deep slumber and unfettered by the noises both, outside and inside the boat.
Day 4: I noticed that the YP with sleep problems was looking very rested and happy when he was woken up. We both sat and watched the seal, still on the dinghy and the mist rise from the waters. I believe it was a part of a healing for this YP, which started the day and we were set for sailing. We then prepared to get back to RHYC which was smooth sailing by now, the YP knew what their instructions meant and were on the job managing the sails as the direction of the wind changed. We then docked, cleaned the boat and packed all our belongings. The YP were then given their RYA certificate of sailing which they very proudly received and we said our goodbyes.
Reflecting on their trip the group were very positive about the Skipper, Tom and his mate, Alex and found them very friendly and professional. The young people all coped very well considering they did not know much English. They were all thrilled that they had been on a 100 year old boat and felt honoured to hear that she had been an explorers Yacht. The group felt that they had become closer as friends and also had shared their life experiences with each other, which they would have not done otherwise. They said that they had seen and learnt a lot, which they wouldn’t have experienced if they had not came on the voyage and that this trip was an exceptional one! They all mentioned they would love to have the chance to experience this again. We would like to thank The Cirdan Sailing Trust for this opportunity and for this powerful experience that all the young people benefitted from.
We still have voyages available on Duet sailing from the East Coast (Ipswich, Harwich, Burnham-on-Crouch) and limited dates available sailing from Poole and Hartlepool on our two larger vessels (Queen Galadriel & Faramir). If any youth leaders are looking to provide a positive activity to help their young people learn and develop, you should contact us as soon as possible to discuss dates whilst we still have some funding available.
Contact Michelle on 01621 776684 / firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.