Learning the Ropes

HTP Learners & Staff Sailing on the Solent
All hands on deck: HTP students and staff go sailing
All hands on deck: HTP students and staff

“It was something none of us had ever done…”

Learners from HTP’s Riverbank Campus have been making the most of a huge opportunity – to sail on board a tall ship, living and working as crew, for a full week. Three HTP students enjoyed a residential trip, sailing around the Solent, in partnership with the Tall Ships Youth Trust, based in Portsmouth.

Adam Sanchez Brown and Hope Giles, studying Outdoor Pursuits, and Bradley Simmonds, studying Professional Cookery, took to the sea in October on board a tall ship usually crewed by a team of up to 18 people. The three HTP learners were accompanied by two HTP Training Consultants and three crew from the Tall Ships Youth Trust, making for a much smaller on-board team.

“Normally I see the students in the classroom where I’m their teacher,” says HTP’s Ian Bell. “For our week at sea, it was very different. We were a small crew so we enjoyed a collaborative working relationship, where we all worked as a team together on board, with staff and students all pulling together. I think we all learnt from the experience.

“It was a fantastic time. It was something none of us had ever done and a new experience for all of us. Even those who had sailed before had only done so during the day. Living onboard and working as a team was a new challenge for us all. It was hard work but very satisfying. They were full-on, long days and we were busy all the time, from 7.30am at breakfast, until the evening. With such a small crew we were all working in the galley as well. We slept in small, hammock-type beds, so it wasn’t the most comfortable night’s sleep, but we all got on really well.”

Their week on the sea in October saw mixed fortunes weather-wise, ending with calm seas but including two days of strong winds and stormy conditions. It was definitely a week of contrasts, as Ian Bell explains.

“The first night we spent on-board was moored up at Gunwharf Quays. It was magical. We were surrounded by the twinkling lights of the super yachts. We felt really special. It set us up for a tiring but rewarding and sometimes stormy week! Our final night, moored at Cowes, was beautifully still. The sea was like a mill pond. We were all very calm that night, knowing that it was the end of our week together.”

On their final day, making the most of the decent weather, some of the crew even climbed the ship’s mast, reaching an eye-watering height of 98 feet. It provided a memorable moment for learners and teachers alike, symbolising the personal growth experienced by everyone on-board.

“The students took away a real sense of achievement,” Ian says. “During the week they were in constant conversation with a very experienced crew and a professional skipper, who works in the Mediterranean, the Azores and the Caribbean. I think their week really widened their horizons regarding their future careers. It opened up potential international leisure opportunities, or the idea of working on cruise ships. It’s a big world out there and it was a week that changed a lot of perspectives.”

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