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Tall ship sailing voyage for V.Ships Cadet Duje Paladin

V.Ships Cadet's adventure of a lifetime: On board diary

Tall ship sailing voyage for V.Ships Cadet Duje Paladin

Lucky V.Ships Deck Cadet Duje Paladin from Croatia took part in the adventure of a lifetime sailing on board century old tall ship 'Irene' with Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust (MAST) this summer. 

Here we share entries from his on board diary written during his voyage from Glasgow to Liverpool by sea.

The day before the vessel sailed, V.Ships Crew Operations Manager Ozgur Yilmaz and Communications Officer Rachael Simpson escorted Cadet Paladin to embark on his new ship.

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The tall ship 'Irene' was first owned by Symons, a brick manufacturer, and served as a cargo ship. The vessel is a 100-foot ketch built in Bridgwater in 1907, the last ship built in the docks and the only ketch built in the West Country still sailing. Today she is maintained by a small crew and sails to different destinations giving people a chance to learn leadership, teamwork, communication skills and problem solving on board.

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Cadet Paladin has sailed on board two modern vessels during his cadetship. Before going on board the 'Irene', he spoke to Rachael and Ozgur about his thoughts on joining the tall ship: "I'm really excited of course, but it's my first time on board a tall ship so I don't know really what it's going to be like. I'm looking forward to it. I don't mind hard work. I think it will be fun."

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Day 1

"Today at 1500 hours I came on board. The Captain of S.V. "Irene" introduced me to everyone. By the time it was evening we had already connected very well.

"Captain said tomorrow at 1400 is our departure time and in the morning we will start with training and safety procedures.

"There are three standard crew members on Irene; Captain, Chief Mate, and Ordinary Seaman/Cook."

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Day 2

"This morning all crew woke up around 07:00, together we ate breakfast, and we've been waiting on deck at 08:00 o'clock.

"The Captain showed us how to set sails, make knots and how to use the compass. However, it was fun to learn some new knots, which I didn't know before, and that we really don't use on M.V. (merchant vessel), setting sails was a little bit complicated for whole crew, but also for myself because I never worked with sail before.

"After that training, I thought we will never set sail alone, without assistance of captain or mate, not even if we're going to stay on board for 1 year. Some people were struggling with all of the procedures. We finished with training around noon, and then we had lunch.

"Departure was at 14:15 exactly, and it was official beginning of our adventure. Departure was almost same as it is on M.V., but everything is just smaller and quicker. Ropes all over deck are making life on board more complicated.

"We sailed through the river until dinner. During the dinner Captain separated us in 2 groups, and made a schedule of work for next week. I was on Captain Watch, and my duty was from midnight till 06:00 am, and from noon until 06:00pm. Each group contained 5 crew members plus captain in one, and mate in other.

"End of the day - It's time to take rest!"

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Day 3

"I woke up at 11:30 pm, and at 11:50 I was already on deck. We were on anchor, at Holy Lock. This was anchor watch, which is almost the same as on M.V., but here we don't have radar. Every 30 minutes we had to write down position of vessel and visual check to see if we are drifting. It was cold, but crew was really good, so it made our watch easier. Afternoon watch started from noon and the weather was awful; it started to rain, and wind got stronger. So, we lift up the anchor and spread all canvas.

"I had incredible feeling that I am seaman in 18th century while we were pulling ropes, all wet, with wind in our face, and captain was shouting: "2-6-heave!" (It was expression that was used in British Royal Navy. Every team on board had 6 crew members, and numbered roles. After loading, it was the task of the men numbered two and six to heave the cannon out the gun port for firing). 

"It was literally a fight with wind, but also pushing our own limits. I think this was a moment when I fell in love with sailing. After we set sails, it was time to clean deck from ropes. Rule was; "no ropes touching the deck", and captain was clear about that. Rolling intervals are more often than on bigger vessels, and it’s not a problem for me, but one crew member got sea sickness today.

"After duty we set down for dinner that lasted 3 hours. They accepted me as they would accept any British on board. Thanks to "2-6-heave", we started to sing "Oh o ho, and a bottle of a rum", but after few minutes it become boring, because we didn't knew lyrics of that song, and we have no signal on board to Google it. So, it is time to sleep, and next day is starting in only 3 hours."

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Day 4

"We were underway for Isle of Mann. Later, we came around 3 miles from dock at 10:00 pm, and Captain decided we should sail around the island till morning, and then we will go to anchor.

"Finally it was sunny, and sails were full of wind. During our morning watch we practiced work with sails for few hours, and in afternoon watch we were doing maintenance.

"In between we climbed on the top of the mast. Polishing, and cleaning deck is necessary for 108 year old ship. We were sailing with 6 out of 9 sails, and average speed was about 5 knots. I can't believe we actually succeeded in setting sails without the Captain's or Mate's assistance. I think we were lucky, because wind was not strong, and we only set 2 sails. Before ending of watch we put sails down, to prepare other watch crew for training.

"It was hard day, but this is something that makes me happy. We are actually having time of our lives, while on the other hand we are struggling with hard living conditions. After dinner it was my turn to wash dishes, and clean the galley. After job is done, I still have couple of hours to rest."

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Day 5

"During our morning watch we prepared to drop anchor. Captain was teaching the crew about star observation, while I was helm boy. It was amazing experience to steer 100 year old ship, all on my own. Here we are using compass, GPS and visual observing. The current was strong, so it was very hard to steer to ship. Maybe I didn't mention that it is not hydraulic system steering, so it's asking a lot of energy to steer for a couple of hours. However, it was awesome.

"After duty, we took some breakfast and coffee. Around 09:00am we were already on anchor. So, we went ashore at Ramsey on the Isle of Man. Maybe I also didn't mention that in last few days we didn't take a shower - lack of fresh water. The sailing club was good opportunity. After a quick shower in the sailing club we went to have a coffee. All crew members were discussing about same "problem".

"'Ground is still swinging, uff' - it was usual comment this afternoon. At 03:00 pm we returned on Irene. It was barbeque time. We also played some rope games, and it was fun.

"Finally, after such a nice day, we had anchor watch. Tomorrow after lunch is departure."

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Day 6

"After morning watch duty, we were so tired; lack of sleep and lots of wind in your face, mixed with sun rays exhausted all of us. But we had fun. So we decided to stay awake.

"It was about 17 degrees outside, and we were jumping from Irene into the sea. It was fun. For 15 minutes. Sea temperature wasn't good for swimming. But, we decided to stay on deck and play cards, while crew that was on duty was doing an anchor watch. After lunch was departure. We lifted the anchor. We wanted to do it in the "old school" way.

"It lasted about 15 minutes, then we finally quit. We needed 1 minute to lift anchor for 30 inches. It was really hard job to do. This reminds me on story that captain said, that there was a man who sailed 'Irene' by itself, from France to Bristol, and that after that voyage he never stepped back on deck. Impressive, if it’s true.

"After we secured the anchor, once again we set sails. This time we set 7 of them. Once again, we succeeded without any assistance. This was the day when we all learned that helping each other on board the ship is necessary, and that together with 'Irene' we are making one body, and the Captain is our head.

"After dinner it was once again my time to wash the dishes. My job is done, and it's time to take a rest."

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 Day 7

"Even God rested on the seventh day, but not the 'Irene' crew. We were full of energy and adrenalin because we knew our adventure is coming to an end. At this time we are a well-trained crew that wants to sail, and soon we are leaving. We are 30 miles far from Liverpool - the place where our adventure ends.

"The crew were very interested about a seaman's job, and they were asking me all possible questions you can ask someone about his job. In the end they said that they are going to apply for the V.Ships Cadet Program, because they like life at sea. This situation shows how amazing this week was. I learned the job that is actually the root of a modern seaman's job, and how this job was evolving; from old merchant tall ships to modern merchant cargo vessels.

"But the purpose remains the same. It was amazing experience; no TV, internet, laptops, mobile phones, but hard work, making new friends, learning old ways of work, that can still help in modern job. During this week we had been able to take a shower only once, on the Isle of Man. Sometimes it happens that we have a lack of fresh water on our modern cargo vessels, but for the rest of the crew, this was really shocking. So, actually we were feeling like real old school seafarers (but we had chocolate, and they had rum).

"Tomorrow morning we arrive in Liverpool, so, once again we decided to stay awake. We are counting our last hours together. My duties start at 00:00."

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Day 8

"After the end of my watch at 06:00 I ate my breakfast, and suddenly I was sad. I knew this was our last meal on 'Irene' together. I wasn't the only one with that thought on my mind. We had fun together, we connected together so well in a such short period, and we learned to sail on 107 year old ship.

"I was steering her at every opportunity. After breakfast I wanted to steer one more time that beauty. And I did. I wanted it to last forever. But, after 2 hours the mate took the helm, and we entered the port.

"Later that evening we had dinner; all crews and organisations together. We won a prize "best watch", 5 of us and a Captain.

"Now, our crew is making plans for next summer, to return on 'Irene' and sail again. New friendships are born. I'm gonna miss 'Irene' and crew.

"The dream is over. Now back to reality."

 



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