Wettest Classroom Project Sailing across the finish line

On the afternoon of Friday 26th July, Queen Galadriel arrived back on the Quay in Bristol harbour, nine weeks after she left from the same location to sail around the United Kingdom with the Wettest Classroom on Earth Project.

This has been a big undertaking and has taken many months in the planning, with the Venturers Trust and schools from around the country. Cirdan has delivered a full 8 week circumnavigation in 8 legs with 96 students & staff on board. Most of the young people are diagnosed with Autism and they have proved that anything is possible, even when you have added challenges in life.

Cirdan and Queen Galadriel’s crew have been really please to welcome the young people aboard and hope they cherish their memories of this experience forever.

Below is a radio interview conducted on the decks of Queen Galadriel when she returned to Bristol and broadcasted on BBC Radio Bristol.

Here is a press release from Venturers Trust about the Wettest Classroom project.

Wettest Classroom on Earth returns to Bristol on 26th July – we’ve learnt so much!

On Friday 26th July, the Wettest Classroom on Earth will return to Welsh Back harbour in Bristol after an eight-week voyage like no other. 96 shipmates, made up of school children and teaching staff, have been sailing around the UK coast, with each shipmate learning, working, eating and sleeping on board the ship for seven days at sea.

Pupils who have already completed their week-long part of the voyage are back in school, sharing stories with their classmates of their incredible adventure. Highlights included climbing the rigging, steering the ship and spotting dolphins, puffins, seals and a minke whale. 

Chloe, age 17 and a student at Merchants’ Academy said: “I wanted to inspire my younger sisters to aim high and try new things. I knew that if they saw me take on this challenge, they’d wonder what extraordinary things they could achieve in life!”

Connor, age 17 also from Merchants’ Academy, said: “Mentoring the younger pupils was really rewarding. Some were seasick and some were homesick. Some questioned their ability to take on challenging tasks, such as climb the rigging. Providing encouragement and support to them made me feel proud of myself. The experience has made me want to find a career that allows me to support and encourage others.”

Fern, age 11 and a pupil at The Dolphin School, said: “I learnt that you have to keep going, even when things get tough. And that there’s a really big world out there to explore!”

Ciara, age 10 and also a pupil at The Dolphin School, said: “I learnt how important it is to be able to rely on the people around you.”

Tallulah, age 11 and a pupil at The Dolphin School, said: “I learnt that if I put my mind to it and try my hardest, I really can achieve anything!”

Leon, age 14 and a pupil at Venturers’ Academy said: “I have learnt how to believe in myself and I’m braver than I ever was before.”

Jamie, age 15 and from Venturers’ Academy said: “I loved it. Climbing to the top of the mast, learning how to cook and gaining my Young Yacht Master Award was brilliant. I feel very proud of myself.”

Also from Venturers’ Academy, Ainsley, age 12 said: “I didn’t think someone like me would be chosen. It was an amazing experience, can we do it again?!”

The initiative was developed by Venturers Trust, together with Extreme Classrooms, the Cirdan TrustWhole Education and Kunskapsskolan. The Wettest Classroom has been over two-years in the making, including a challenging selection camp last summer, held in Snowdonia for 166 students from across the country. A fully inclusive expedition, children from all over the UK are working together, encouraging each other and overcoming challenges as a team – all on the open sea.

During each leg at sea, home for the students has been a Baltic Trader, 32.9 metres long with a beam of 6.6 metres, built in 1937 in Denmark. The ship, which sleeps up to 16 crew members, was bought by the Cirdan Trust in 1983 and renamed Queen Galadriel.

The children taking part range in age from 10 to 18 and represent 11 different primary schools, secondary schools, sixth forms and a special school. Venturers’ Academy in Withywood, a special school for children with a primary diagnosis of Autism, has been at the forefront of this initiative from day one and sent 15 students on the voyage, across four separate legs of the journey. The academy’s motto ‘Where everything’s possible’ underpins the curriculum and so the opportunity to sail around the circumference of the UK was a challenge the whole academy got behind from the very start.

Of the 11 schools taking part in the entire voyage, five are from the South West region, three of which are part of Venturers Trust. Students from Merchants’ Academy in Withywood will never forget sailing the vessel through Loch Ness – a far cry from the suburbs of Bristol!

The vast majority of funding for the 27 Venturers Trust children taking part, was provided by the Society of Merchant Venturers, whose members donated £45,000. The Society is co-sponsor of Venturers Trust, along with the University of Bristol.

Trystan Williams, Principal of Venturers’ Academy and spearheading the initiative on behalf of Venturers Trust, said: “Real-world experiences bring the curriculum to life and can be quite literally life changing for young people. The depth of commitment required to bring together an event like this is extraordinary and I am grateful to everyone who has helped to move this incredible initiative from the drawing board to the water!”

Alan Chambers MBE, polar explorer and CEO of Extreme Classrooms, said: “This experience will increase the confidence of every child who takes part. They will each feel proud of their achievement and will develop teamwork and leadership skills by rolling up their sleeves and gaining hands-on experience in a challenging but unforgettable environment.”

Gail Bragg, Chair of Venturers Trust, said: “Schools within Venturers Trust place no limit on what we believe our students can achieve and this expedition is evidence of that. The students and teachers have been working really hard to prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I am so proud of each and every one of them for stepping outside their comfort zone and being inspirational role models for their peers.”