By Libby Salmon, aged 10 years old.
Have you ever been sailing? About a year ago I did a sailing course using small yachts and enjoyed it very much. However last weekend I was invited to join a group of young people sailing the Queen Galadriel and that was totally different!
The Queen Galadriel is a tall ship owned by the Cirdan Sailing Trust. She is 32 metres long and was built in 1937 in Denmark. Her original name was Else, after the Captain’s daughter and she was a Baltic trader – a cargo vessel working round the coast of Scandinavia. At first she was a motor sailor, then from 1956 used motor alone. By 1970 she was pretty much idle, so it was lucky for her that in 1983 the Cirdan Sailing Trust bought her, renamed her as the Queen Galadriel after a character in Lord of The Rings, and put her to use helping young people learn to sail. Twenty years later, after she was bought by the Cirdan Sailing Trust, she was taken out of service to have a major structural refit, which included replacement of the keel, extensive re-planking, installation of watertight bulkheads and renewal of all the electrical and mechanical systems. All below deck accommodation was completely redesigned and renewed. One year later, in 2004, she was returned to service and many young people have sailed on her since – including me!
The trip I went on was officially for ages twelve and over, so because I am only 10 I had to have a guardian with me. My granddad (who we call Tadcu because he lives in Wales and Tadcu is a Welsh word for Granddad) used to go sailing when he was younger so we asked him if he would like to go with me and he said he would. Most of the children sailing on the Queen Galadriel had done it before, apart from a few of us so we were a mixed crew. We started with a long talk from the Cirdan Trust crew members, telling us about health and safety and a bit about life on board ships. The three Fs were important: fire, flood and falling overboard – better to dodge these outcomes if possible! Then we put on our life jackets and went up on deck where we were shown the blue cable which we were to clip onto with our life jackets if it should be gusty or if we did a night sail.
We left Ipswich on a beautiful sunny calm October afternoon and used the motor until we were out of the river and into the open sea. Then we hoisted the sails and started to learn how to use them. We did watches, which were three hours on deck and then six hours off. When we were on duty we helped with the looking out and the steering. There were always five of us on watch: two look outs, one runner, one on stand-by and one helping at the helm. My favourite bit was steering, so I spent a good deal of time at the helm. We did a night sail, which was fun. We then all had to get up at three o’clock in the morning because it was all hands on deck to put the sails down and drop the anchor and then again at six to put the sails up and raise the anchor. Tadcu fed me chocolate to keep me going as we were on the same watch.
At the end of the voyage, we had a choice. We could either ride in the tender (a small, motor powered boat), or, we could climb the rigging to the top of the mast. Most of the group chose to ride the tender, however a small group of people, including me, chose to climb the mast. I had a harness so I knew it was safe, though it was still quite daunting as it was such a long way up a pole thin enough for my arms to go all the way round.
All in all it was an amazing experience and something I would love to repeat in the future, though I think Tadcu enjoyed it even more than I did!
Where is the best places you have sailed?