Updated: Jan 18, 2018
I'm being woken up to join my shipmates to take over the deck for my morning watch, 0400 to 0800. It's really early but a cup of tea and the fresh breeze soon shake me awake.
It's my turn first on the wheel. I listen carefully as the Officer of the Watch explains what to do and I tentatively take the wheel. The feel of the ship under sail in the fresh easterly wind is amazing and soon all nerves are forgotten as I revel in helming this wonderful ship. Our course is 160 degrees - heading from Weymouth to Cherbourg in France - and we are making about seven knots, sometimes even a bit more, under almost full sail.
After the excitement of my first go at the wheel it's my turn for a break and I go and have a cup of tea and some biscuits in the mess room. Back on deck again I'm on lookout duty. I go up to the foredeck to keep watch and enjoy the sparkling in the bow wave and the millions of stars that are strewn across the sky. I've never seen this many from land! Dawn breaking and the sun coming up is another spectacular sight - I'm not usually up at this time of day.
I've been smelling the mouthwatering aromas of breakfast wafting over the deck for the last half hour or so. Mmmm, bacon! At last we are relieved by the next watch and can go into the mess for a well earned breakfast with cereals, bacon, scrambled egg and fried bread, toast and marmalade. Yummy!
It's time for the morning meeting with the Captain and the Mate. The plan for the day is discussed.
Happy Hour. No that's not cheap drinks time, it's all hands to clean the ship! Surprisingly I discover that with some music on and everyone working, laughing and talking together that housework (shipwork?) can be fun!
Happy hour over, it's time for 'smoko' - morning tea break. It's one of the voyage crew's birthday and Cookie has made a splendid chocolate cake complete with candles and lots of gooey icing. I had thought I might lose weight on this trip but it's looking unlikely!
The second Mate gives us all a talk on celestial navigation; out come the sextants and we measure the altitude of the Sun, great fun - and if our position wasn't quite as accurate as the GPS, well at least we were in the Channel. Not bad for a first attempt!
Lunch is served in the mess room. It's my turn to be one of the 'galley slaves' today so I eat on the first sitting of lunch and then I help to serve second sitting lunch. After we've washed up there is some preparation to do for dinner. While we are peeling and chopping, Cookie talks us through what it takes to cook for 40 hungry sailors in a galley that is often less than steady!
Afternoon quiet time. I take my book on deck to read but find it is enough just to sit back and watch the sea and the sails. It's warm and sunny with occasional drops of sea spray coming over the side - very refreshing! The lookout spies some dolphins and they come to play in our bow wave. How fabulous to see those glorious creatures playing in their natural environment.
After afternoon smoko (scones with jam and cream), the Bosun teaches us how to tie the basic seafaring knots. We are all very proud of ourselves when we master the bowline - we really are turning into sailors!
It's time for me to help with the evening meal. There is a seemingly huge pile of washing up to do but singing along to some great songs on the CD player it gets done in no time! As galley slave I am excused watch tonight but when we've finished washing up I go on deck anyway to help hand (take in) the sails ready to come in to the huge harbour of Cherbourg where we are going to anchor overnight.
Quietly at anchor in the outer harbour at Cherbourg, it turns out that we have quite a few musicians onboard, so we gather around the main deck hatch and have a good singsong and a glass of wine.
It's been a great evening after a fabulous day - but I think it's time for bed! We are going alongside in Cherbourg tomorrow and we are all looking forward to the French bread and cheese Cookie has promised to buy for lunch. In the afternoon we hope to explore and find a restaurant we can all go to for moules and frites - and maybe a glass of wine or two - tomorrow evening.