So, as most of you know, we are offered spaces every year on the Ellen MacArthur sailing trips around the Isle of Wight. Ellen MacArthur is the hero of a lady who sailed around the world single-handedly in 2005. On top of being a heroic sailor, Ellen set up and continues to run her cancer charity to help young people who have received a diagnosis. Her charity works with young people from all over the UK, aged between 8 and 26.
This year, we were given spaces in their last trip of the season in September… bit nerve wracking considering we’d likely be catching the tail end of the hurricanes and bad weather from America!
Four of us travelled down to Southampton, jumped on a ferry and were taken to East Cowes on the Isle of Wight. We took part in icebreaker sessions and team building, having the opportunity to meet the other 35-40 people that we would be spending our week with. We settled into our boats and sailing groups pretty quickly, claimed our beds and started to get pretty aggressive over games of Uno and Trivial Pursuit!
Sleeping on a boat is a pretty special experience – it’s something that not many people get the opportunity to do, particularly on a small boat of only 6-8 people. The boats were surprisingly spacious! Being part of the Ellen MacArthur group is really lovely; for the young people who came on the trip, it’s always good to meet others in a similar situation to you, who have been through the same things and who have the same worries. It’s an opportunity to share your experiences, your highs and lows, or actually, to put your diagnosis to one side and make some incredible friends.
The weather wasn’t too awful in the first two days (at least that’s what we thought until we got out on the water!) At sea, everyone is given the opportunity to pitch in, help out, steer the boat, learn how to manouvre the sails, anything you want! Because you work as a team throughout, you bond really quickly with others on your boat and you feel like you’ve known each other for much longer than just a few days! The first two days of sailing were brilliant – we had the opportunity to sail in quite challenging weather conditions, which actually made the experience really fun – and ever so slightly terrifying.
On our third day, after a night of sleeping on quite a rocky boat (!), it was decided that it wasn’t feasible to go out sailing, so we went to Osborne House instead, a big old place built by Queen Victoria. It was really interesting to see something different,walk around the grounds and have cups of tea and ice cream on the waterfront. Like this day, our trip didn’t focus entirely on sailing – we were able to get involved in loads of different activities and socialise with people from other groups. We had an amazing BBQ on land, we went crabbing and we had a bake off competition…… which my boat totally won, not to brag or anything…
In all, our four day trip was an adventure and it’s something that I’m sure our young people will always remember. We love the EMCT and everything they’ve done to support and encourage us!