20 July 2004

University College Hospital London

20th July 04

Annie Winfield was one of the qualified nurses that had volunteered to come as a helper with the necessary medical background. Annie had no previous experience of sailing before the weekend; here’s what she had to say about her experience.

“As a non sailor, my feelings as I left home on Thursday morning were mainly excitement, but with an edge of apprehension. I was off to spend four days in a confined space with a bunch of teenagers I didn’t know – a bit like a mini ‘Big Brother’!

When I arrived at the UKSA, Martin the Trust Manager, introduced himself to me and told me that the boats we were going to be sailing were ‘the Bavarias moored over there’. I think he realised from my blank expression that I didn’t have a clue what a Bavaria was (apart from being a country), so he showed me to the boats and introduced me to the two skippers. He then went off to collect the group from Southampton. They arrived at 5 o’clock that afternoon and the fun started straight away.

We all gelled within an hour (I think the singing and dancing to cheesy songs helped). We set sail for the first time the next day. We were encouraged to get involved as much as we wanted and were soon adept at winching and knot tying. I think the highlight of the day for all of us was being given a very wet and fast trip in an old blue and white lifeboat; it was lovely to see everyone laughing and enjoying themselves. There was time for some souvenir shopping in Yarmouth before returning to the boats for dinner and a night moored at sea. Brian, our volunteer and the resident master chef on our boat, woke the next morning announcing that he was going to buy a water bed as soon as he got home because he had slept so well!

Saturday was spent sailing to The Needles. The sea was quite choppy and there was a good wind, and surprisingly there was only one sea sickness casualty. That evening, due to the rough conditions, the skippers decided that we should moor at the UKSA. After a de-brief with Martin, we decided to take everyone to the local watering hole reached by water taxi. Everyone had a good time, playing football, telling awful jokes and dancing to the live band. When we got back to the boat, it was time for a pyjama party with face painting and more cheesy music.

I very soon realised that my initial apprehension was unfounded and the trip surpassed all my expectations. I think we all smiled or laughed from the minute we boarded the boats to the time we parted. It was fantastic to see how much the group were obviously enjoying themselves, and the see the youngest lad’s face light up when he was asked about ‘driving the boat’. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the group of young people we had with us were the best and the sailing was great. I am now planning to undertake my Competent Crew training and am looking forward to getting involved with the trips next year.

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to get involved with The Ellen MacArthur Trust and for giving me such a wonderful weekend with some lovely people.”

One of the students we would like to invite back next year was Daniel Monk. He took to sailing like a duck to water. Here’s what Dan had to say about his weekend.

“The food was fantastic, it covered every diet.

The weather was outstanding. We had sun, rain, mist and fog. It was great ‘cos we learnt how the boat coped in all weather. I learnt how to tie knots, how to steer the boat, what rope does what and how to work as a team, and how to have good fun on a boat.

I loved sailing so much, as soon as I get home I want to join a sailing club and eventually sail around the world. Then I want to be like Martin, handing out these feedback forms, and helping other people to enjoy the fun of sailing.

Thank you x”