Elle's news letter

March 2017


Where has time gone? Can you believe it's been just over 2 years since I started my Deck Officer Cadet Ship, through MLOCS, and Chiltern Maritime, at Warsash Maritime Academy? I definitely can't.

A lot has happen in the past two years, the first of which you can read here ( Elle's Adventures - One Year On).  Like last year this will mostly be an amalgamation of my previous blog posts, so bear with if you're re reading parts. I recognise that last year's post was extremely wordy, so I hope to keep this a little shorter and sweeter.

One year on leaves off where I have not long started lectures, having returned to WMA in the first week of January, and we were thrown straight back in to work, with seven new subjects (well 5 plus cargo and, stability & naval architecture), four of which gave us assignments within the first week!

Also during the Spring Term I took part for the second year running in the annual WMA 24 Hour Life Raft Challenge. I'm sure by now you all know that this is sponsored event in aid of Sail4Cancer, where we spent 24 hours in a Life Raft, in the mouth of the River Hamble.

By 1705 on March 11th we were all in our rafts, and ready for the challenge to begin. Although we did have a small leak in our raft, memories of 'Titanic Raft from 2015' came flooding back, all was fine in the rafts, and the first few hours went extremely quickly, and was filled with lots of laughing and even more food, including a Dominoes Delivery.

Night time was extremely crowed, more so then the year previous, however despite this, I managed to snuggle up into my best friend Luke, and we let the hours pass by films on my tablet, and by napping.

When morning came, we decided it was a good idea to sing. It really wasn't a good idea. What was even more of a 'not good idea', I decided that live tweeting and blogging was not good enough this year, and therefore would vlog throughout the 24 hours, which resulted in me awkwardly telling the camera what time it was really.

By the afternoon we had exhausted the objects we could use for I-spy, and granny had been to the supermarket various times so everyone was starting to feel tires, uncomfortable and irritable, however the news that we had reached £8,000 did perk up everyone's moods.

In the end we raised approximately £13,000 for Sail4Cancer, enabling 13 families to have a holiday, in order to gain respite from their day to day lives. If you would like to read my full hour detail of the challenge, including the above mentioned awkward videos of me telling the time, head over to " We Did It #WMALRC16".

Before long Easter was upon us, and the summer term began. This started with rounding up the ends of our subjects and exams before starting with new subjects, Orals Prep, Engineering, Transas, Maritime Law, Maritime Business, and Command Management. These were mostly all assignment based, including essays on the fault of the Costa Concordia grounding, and planning a route for a ferry out of Portsmouth (something I became very familiar with having been at the helm for said pilotage many times) on the Electronic Charts, and carrying out the pilotage on the simulators.

Command Movement was split in to various smaller assignments including using the simulator to do some manovering and come along side, and planning a route on the electronic charts. Along with written assignments, we had a group presentation, in which I volunteered as team leader; all were about search and rescue. Our final assignment was our Signals exam, which consisted of recognising Morse code, and flags and meanings, along with a short written test. Our final part of Command management was an hour a week about what engineers do on board.

Towards the end of term I was told that I would be joining Windstar Cruises, on board mys Wind Surf from September through to January, not only meaning that I had my birthday and Christmas at sea, but also I had a month off, in which I spent time with my family, had a wee adventure on my own. As I was missing Christmas with my friends, the awesome people that they are threw me my own special Christmas dinner and party in the middle of August. During my time on board I would spend my first two months around the med, followed by two weeks in Dry Dock in Cadiz, two week crossing/wet dock, and my final month in the Caribbean.

On September 7th I flew to Lisbon to join the Wind Surf, and set into work on the eight till twelve watch.  Despite being my third ship, the Wind Surf was completely different to one I'd been on before, for one it had an actually steering wheel (which made me more excited then what I would like to admit!), and of course there were sails, but also Wind Star has an open bridge policy, meaning that our guests were allowed to visit the bridge whenever we were at sea.

With a day at sea before our first destination I was very quickly thrown into the idea of having guests asking questions on the bridge. It also gave me a good amount of time to learn my way around the bridge equipment, especially the sail controls. During this time I was working with the third officer, and therefore my 'overtime work' was made up of the maintenance of LSA, embarkation training, and muster lists.

During my third cruise, while in Capri, I celebrated my 22ndBirthday with going on tour! In which I got to enter the Blue Grotto, a cave where the water glows bright blue due sunlight traveling through underwater cavities, the entrance of which about a meter high so often cut off, taste food in Anacapri, get a chairlift up nearly 600m high Mount Solaro, and ride the cable car. With celebrations continuing into the evening with being included in the Captain's Introductions, followed by cake with my new friends.

Other than standard being on watch, learning as I go, looking after Lifeboats, LSA, and such there isn't much that I can really go into detail with for my first month. Most the on watch things, compass errors, plotting position, assessing traffic I've talked about in previous blogs. Don't get me wrong, I learnt an awful lot working with the Third Officer, but not that's worth reading about.

After my fifth cruise I changed watch to the 4-8, with the positive note of getting to experience arrivals and departures, getting to work more with the sails and their maintenance, being a larger presence in crew training, (and getting longer/better hours exploring), but with the negative that my nightly midnight visits to my best friend and mama on board MJ, who was the night shift.

At first I was not looking forward to waking up so early, but soon realised I actually preferred getting up at half 3 then I did half 7! On this watch there would be the more or less same routine most days. Getting up as quietly as possible & getting ready in the dark in order to not disturb my cabin mate between 0315 and 0330, stopping by MJ to say good morning, getting on to the bridge for around 0345 and making a coffee, after the watch was handed over, Second Officer Aline, QM Rosid, and I would walk something like 70 laps of the bridge (about a mile) if safe to do so, while discussing mostly travels, adventures and near death experiences, an hour before the pilot we would start our pre-arrival checks, such as calling arrival parties, contacting the port and/or pilots, making sure all is in order for the Captain to take the vessels control. On arrival I was in charge of fixing positions, the arrival checklist and the rough log. Usually by time we were alongside and moored it was about time to hand over the watch, and have an hour or so nap before starting the days out of watch work, be that sails or training, followed by lunch (usually ashore) and an explore/nap before returning to the bridge at 1600.

Sails maintenance included routine checks such a movements and mast inspections, emergency maintenance such as repairs, and general upkeep such as greasing and topping up oil. It became noticeable one day that our fifth main sail had a small vertical tear, which resulted in spending our Halloween morning with a team of sailors, lowering the sail and sewing a patch on either side to cover the hole, my nana would be so proud, she always wanted to me sew! I did get a little worried after proudly exclaiming that I had help sew the patch (learning some Indonesian while doing so), that it would come loose and the rip becoming visible again. Both our QM Rosid and 2/O Aline both went up the top of the masts, which I would have loved to do, but due to insurance I wasn't allowed. Most sails days we did end up greasy, oily, mucky, sweaty and tired, but it was such a great learning experience and I so much enjoyed the hands on element.

Training was also such a brilliant thing to get involved in, as I was able to see things we'd talked about at college happen on location, and I got the practical side of things. Some trainings included just discussing first response in the crew specific locations, some presentations, some drills, but my favourite were definitely ones that broke down what we would do in an emergency while still carried out the actions, such as the day we inflated a life raft on the quay side and in groups got the whole crew inside so they saw how crowded it was and what you would do, but the best and worse at the same time was fire team training. During this the fire team, and usually myself, would dress up fully in firefighting gear, practice using a fire hose from the aft mooring deck, then practice entering a smoke filled/dark area retrieving a casualty and putting a 'fire' out".

Although I preferred the latter part of my contract in terms of work, I preferred ashore in Europe. I adored soaking up the culture, eating new foods, marvelling over the architecture, and so much more. I have some favourite places definitely Dubrovnik and Portofino being top of my list, I think they are beautiful in topography, architecture and just everything about them. Ibiza surprised me a lot, all I really knew of Ibiza was parties so I wasn't fussed, but I discovered that there was a historic side and walked the city walls. Monaco is also a high point on my list, though instead of the casino I went to the palace, museum and aquarium. Other highlights include shopping in Sorrento, walking around Kotor's old town, exploring the backstreets of Venice, and Barcelona's Food Market.

During my time on board I went into my second dry dock. Having not enjoyed my first, I went in dreading dry dock, and hoped I would have work to do. I found myself regretting hoping for work every single day. Every day I was busy, I was tired, I ended up very sweaty every day, I got stressed, I loved it, maybe not at the time (or at least most of the time), but looking back I know I enjoyed  the work, and I really appreciate the responsibilities that I was given.

The best days in Dry dock were the days that I was allowed to go into the dock itself. The first I tagged along with 2/O Aline within a few days of arriving, second with most of the crew, mid-way through the two weeks, and finally a couple of days before we left, I was tasked on supervising a contractor doing some work.

Every couple of nights we did make sure we had a break from long, loud days and had what became known as 'family night', which sometimes meant going for a meal, or to the nearby super store (which sold Irn-Bru), but mostly consisted of getting a take away and watching an animated film, usually Disney or penguin related.

Wet dock was a complete different work schedule, paired with the constant clock changes (retarding an hour every few days), my body clock did feel a wee bit out of whack. During our two weeks crossing I was on watch on the bridge between 0400 and 0800, though I prepped the days permits to work, so often didn't leave the bridge till 0830ish, then 0845-0900 I would join the sailors in working around the ship, finishing just after 1500 each day. The reason for this was that both the other deck cadet, Alistair, and I could both do a navigational watch in which the sun was rising or setting, in order to practice our celestial navigation, along with completely practical maintenance tasks.

Each morning I would estimate a position for civil twilight (basically when you can see the horizon and stars) that day position using a previous and distance = speed x times. I would then find an estimation of where in the sky recognisable stars would be at that time. When said time comes around I'd use a sextant and azimuth ring to find the bearing and amplitude of the stars, of which I used to plot the ships position on the chart.

My first few days I was completely useless, my 2/O, Aline, had to guide me step by step through the whole procedure, and to begin with even shoot the stars for me. My first position told me we were 90 miles from our actual position, though I was reassure by the fact that there was over 3000nm to our destination, if we were only 90 miles out we'd get to the Caribbean alright. As I became more practiced Aline gave me more and more independence, checking how I was doing between steps, double checking my shots, reminding me of little things I may have forgotten, and there were a few times that I missed a step, did something in the wrong order, or simply read the wrong date and had to start the calculations all again. However, by the end of the crossing I was left to do the whole thing alone, by this time I had also got a lot quicker and accurate at doing.

During the day I partook in tasks such as wash downs of the ship, making sure things were back in shape for arrival in St. Maarten, repairing and pressure testing fire hoses, working with the Carpenters, and continuing the general upkeep and maintenance of LSA, Lifeboats and Tenders, the sail system.  Again during the time it seemed like lot of work, and some days were quite stressful, but looking back it was a fantastic to be fully involved in.

We arrived at Philipsburg, St. Maaten at the start of December, and I returned to being on 4-8 full time, however this time with 2/O Sebastian, however after my first week, Alistair disembarked, leaving me as the only deck cadet on board, so did work with each of the navigating officers, if and when required.

Caribbean days were repetitive as we anchored most days, and our arrival and departures we're mostly the same time each day, not to mention that we visited the same ports, either weekly or every other week. This meant I did find myself getting more tired then what I was in Europe, and lead a less adventurous life, but that does no way mean I wasn't finding myself feeling amazing about my training.

During watches my 2/O took a step back and it became more like him shadowing me as to oppose to me shadowing him. He was very reassuring that he was there if I had any uncertainties, to ask away, but soon I'll be qualified and need to be confident having the con, so good to have some practice with someone there. Throughout watches he'd also ask me question such as what action I think we should take when we sighted other vessels, reinforcing my rules of the road practically. Along with often leaving the pre-arrival/pre-departure checks down to me, though doesn't seem like much, it worked wonders for me feeling confident about being a future officer.

With work being done on the sails infrastructure during wet and dry dock, and Sebastian's duo-ticket, the maintenance we did on sails was different to what was done with Aline. My last few weeks on sails were spent concentrating on the workings of the system and trying to restore them to a near original condition.

During the Caribbean season I became more aware of other operations that happened around the vessel, each cruise the chief officer, invited me to host tables with him in the guest dining room, I had time and energy to attend the on Deck BBQs & Line Dancing, beach BBQs, I spent a lot of time at the Marina, and I also managed to watch the crew show. I even sang Christmas carols on Christmas Eve to our guests, and spent my New Year's Eve interacting with guests in the Compass Rose bar. By this time this had come around I was very used to interacting with guests, giving them tours of the bridge, answering any questions, but hosting tables was something different, every time I felt terrified (normally only for the first 10 minutes or so), I really didn't want to say the wrong with, or worse spill food on my formal whites! Luckily, I got on very well with my chief officer, so my mind was put at rest, and it was very easy to continue a conversation. I genuinely think working with him helped me grow a lot on board, hearing "Lee, you are the best," (Lee was his name for me, don't ask I'm not entirely sure why either) multiple times a day was great, I must say.

My first holiday season at sea was one that I won't forget definitely! Christmas Eve consisted of buy Christmas crackers, lots of candy, and somehow Waitrose products in Antigua. Christmas day we spent the day at sea traveling north west, we had the perfect wind for sailing, meaning we turned the engines off around 10am and didn't turn them on till about 10pm, meaning my cabin was silent, so outside of watch, and bridge secret Santa time I spent the day asleep.

We sailed into the New Year also, but I was not in bed at midnight to make the most of the silent engines. Every New Year people in my village in North West England go for a swim in the sea, this year I decided to uphold this tradition, although I was in Antigua. Though this wasn't anything out the ordinary as I spent the time at the marina, most days swimming, and using the water trampoline, but I also discovered in Roseau, Dominica that I am ace at Stand Up Paddle Boarding, however not that great at doing flips anymore.

I landed back at Manchester airport mid-morning on the 8th of January, and returned home for my third Christmas. Although nice to be home, I found myself longing to be back on board. I really want to say thank you again to everyone on board, I am very lucky to have sailed with Captain Gerard and his wonderful team. Everybody on board taught me something, and I have made some fantastic friends that I hope I do stay in contact with. I feel completely privileged to work with who I have, if I mention one person I'd have to mention everyone, or at least 95% of the crew. When I said I didn't want to leave I was completely telling the truth. I'm currently sat at home, feeling homesick (for probably the first time ever) for the ship I called home for the past four months, and the people I've called family, though I have to remember what wise woman told me on last night on board, "It's never goodbye, just see you later."

January 2016


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30 September 2015

So it's 0254, on September 30th 2015 and I'm alone on the bridge on my last watch (on my last day) on the THV Galatea. We're currently on moored up in Harwich. Today I have been on board for 12 weeks, and travelled approximately 3000 miles, starting in Swansea, ending here in Harwich having gone via Plymouth, Dartmouth, Penzance, Oban, Isle of May, Whitby, Great Yarmouth and Dover, and spending my 21st Birthday 'Buoy Bashing' in the Thames Estuary. During my time on board I have partaken in 'buoy bashing' - servicing, cleaning and replacing navigational aids, planned maintenance - painting, checking lifesaving equipment, greasing etc., emergency drills, hydrographic surveying, and witnessed helicopter operations.

I've absolutely adored my time on board, and feel as though I've been spoilt, as it's been a fantastic opportunity, not only to train, but to spend time with such welcoming crews, who have taught me so much. I know when I first was designated to this ship I was disappointed as I wanted to get something where I would see some far off countries, but not only have I had some fantastic training and met great people, I've also now appreciate our wee island a lot more having sailed nearly the whole way around it! Here's a brief run through of my past 12 weeks!

As mentioned in my first updated, my first few weeks were mostly made up of shadowing the 2/O's on the Bridge and learning what everything was, carrying out basic tasks and learning what Trinity House actually do. This trip (every 3 weeks equals a trip as there's a full crew change every 3rd Wednesday) I started in Swansea, sailed to Lundy Island for Helicopter Operations, before making way to Penzance and the Cornish Coast for Buoy Bashing. My second experience of Heli Ops came a few days later near Plymouth. Heli ops mostly consist of transferring water and fuel to lighthouses that can only be reached by sea / air. The trip finished in Swansea where the ship undertook an MCA audit, with the other Cadet, Kieran, and I being given the responsibility to be on watch in port, together for 4 hours three nights in a row.

My second trip started with setting sail for Oban the night of Crew Change day, as the Pharros - our sister ship - had hit an uncharted rock and needed to go into dry dock. During my first week I spent time working with the Seamen on deck, this was mainly doing PMs and loading the deck ready for heli ops. During this week I drove capstans, went on top of the crane for greasing, cleaning, and checking the on board boats. The middle week of this trip I was on 4 - 8 watch with 2/O James, most of these days were around the Isle of May, on Scotland's east coast, but the later were around the English north east coast. These days were made up of more detailed learning about the bridge, and procedures done, taking gyro errors, calculating the tide and preparing the ship for the day. My final week of this trip I was mostly painting the Focstle and Buoy bashing, though I did have a day on the Longstone Light Vessel. I also spend a night on the 12 -4 as I had not had much steaming time, and not at all during night time (the Galatea anchors most nights) so took the opportunity when I could.

Trip three, again I spent most the time on day work on the bridge, however was given more responsibility to carry on PMs on my own. The coolest thing that happened was surveying an area in the Dover Straights where a fishing vessel had sunk the night before. The science geek in me really found it intriguing how all the surveying equipment worked, and after finding the vessel and scanning over it in various directions I was amazed at how clear the 3D image of it was on the computer! I spend another day on a light vessel during this trip, and spent a few more days watching the ETO try and fix it. The Varne LV was okay to get on, however as the weather picked up in the evening it took some time to get off safely resulting in myself standing on the ladder on the outside for some time while the work boat tried to get in a suitable position for embarkation. During this trip we spend a lot of time around Ramsgate, Dover and the Thames Estuary - otherwise known as 'French signal and no signal'.

My final trip was made up of being around the same areas as the third, and was mostly spent on deck. Again my first week was spent taking part in planned maintenance, mostly greasing equipment and testing it works properly. My final night of my third trip had been a late night socialising (completely sober - well I was) with the crew and three Trinity Captains, so I was hoping that I'd be told to keep out the way on crew change like usual, but as I got to the bridge I found out that a class one buoy had sunk, and we had to retrieve and replace it ASAP. The retrieving was done by lowering a hook over the side of the ship and grappling it; due to the higher risk of danger with this I observed it from the bridge. I also learnt how to chip, using a vibrating needle gun, and feather with a grinder. This was needed doing in preparation for the Heli Deck to be repainted. On September 24th I turned 21, and was surprised by the whole crew singing me happy birthday with presents, cake and prosecco in the mess. Being my first birthday both away from my family and being at sea, I am so grateful that everyone, especially 2/Os Steph and James, put so much effort in and made my birthday special.

So that's me done on the THV Galatea, my parents (who came on board tonight for a wee tour) will be picking me up in a few hours' time. I have two weeks off, and I'm so excited to see my sister, my nephew and my friends and family, but I'm sad to leave this fantastic environment. On October 15th I will be joining Commodore Goodwill, and freight ferry operating between Portsmouth and the Channel Island, along with being in dry dock for four weeks. Again I'm slightly disappointed I'm not seeing more of the world, but if I've learnt anything from Trin it's that I don't need to see the world quite yet to have a great adventure, during which I'll get to explore Cargo Operations and experience Dry Dock.

Again I would love to thank both crew of the THV Galatea for being so accommodating and giving me such a fantastic experience. As I've been told when I've thanked people personally 'it's their job to teach cadets and make us welcome', but I feel everyone has gone beyond that to welcome myself and other cadets on board, and make sure we're learning and happy. I just now fear that no other ship I'm on in my cadetship will live up to the standard provided by Trinity. I said within my third week that I would like to return to Trinity House one day as a qualified officer, and I still stand by that.

06 August 2015

Before start talking about my first month on the THV Galatea, I will briefly summarise the week.

  • Safety and security lectures, no matter how important, are just death by power point pretty much.
  • There are lots of types of fire, and lots of ways to put them out
  • Fire still scares me
  • BA sets are heavy
  • 260oC is quite warm
  • When wheeled CO2 Extinguishers break and go crazy while you're holding them, it's quite scary - though does look like it's been snowing once it's empty
  • Jumping into a pool from 3m when lights, sirens and water spray going is fun
  • It might save my life one day, but I don't like swimming in a life jacket
  • Nothing has really changed in the first aid world since the last time I did it

Now that's done with I can start on how much I love being on the THV Galatea, and what I've done in my first month on board.

I joined the ship in Swansea on July the 8th where I was greeted, and taken straight to the bridge. However, it was crew change day (these guys do 3 weeks on, 3 weeks off), so as soon I got to know everyone, they all got off and the port watch joined. Most of the day was spent settling in, and unpacking. This was along with a tour of the ship, and some socialising time, getting to know the rest of the crew, all of which was male.

On my first few days we had heliops (Helicopter Operations) off Lundy South Light. Myself and the other deck cadet shadowed the 2/O on watch, and we were shown and explained things on the bridge. We also made a passage plan from Breaksea Buoy to Morte Bay, which was approximately 40 miles. We first did this on the paper charts, and we were then shown the ECDIS and transferred it to electronic chart. As we steamed I spent the afternoon taking fixes to mark our position on the chart, done by visual bearings, along with radar bearings and ranges.

On the 11th Captain Wayne showed me the anti-healing system, and the online weather and tide forecasters, the latter factors determined where we were going that day, and where we would anchor overnight. I watched as a buoy was picked out the water, cleaned, serviced and returned, while this was going on, the Captain showed me how to do a work log. We decided to go to Penzance and stay overnight, so I got the charts out, the correct folio, and laid them out for the second officer who I watched plan the route was copied on to the paper charts from the electronic. I also learnt how to use the AIS, log the weather at the end of a watch and the mast lights. I spent the evening with the ABs watching Marvel films, though as we got closer to the ETA returned to the bridge to watch what the Captain did when we went to anchor. When I was put in charge of the radio to the chippy controlling anchor, I got so tongue tied!

Most of the trip continued like this. Eight till five shadowing the 2/O's on watch, though I did watch on deck sometimes when buoys were being serviced. However there was times where I completed on my own, or with the 2/O maintenance on board, this included checking the right things were in the right cupboards, and that all the boats (we have 4 on board, a P28, a Workboat, a rescue boat, and a 'rubber duck' aka a RIB) were in working order, and being shown and taught more about entering enclosed spaces, and the procedures done prior to that.  I had a few days of getting very wet, this was due to checking fire fighting equipment, or because I went out on the work boat to check a lighthouse.

During my first trip with the port watch crew, I did manage to get to shore a couple of times, even if it was just to buy a paper and come back, in Dartmouth, Penzance, and Barry Island - which isn't as exciting as Gavin & Stacy made me think it was, though I didn't get to go on the log flume, or even go in that far to get there tbh.

We ended the trip with an MCA audit looking at SMC, ISSC, ILO and MLC.  The day started with a meeting, and documents review. And followed by Interviews with the Master, Chief, Chief Engineer, and some other members of the crew. During these meetings things that were discussed included, Masters Review, Internal Audits, SMS, Deck Maintenance Emergency Preparedness, Shipboard Operations, Food and Wages, along with checking certification of all members of crew was in order. Before lunch we also had an emergency drill. The scenario of this drill was that a smoke detector had gone off in the paint locker, and I made the announcement over the PA system for the incident party, as named on the muster list, to check it out. They confirmed there was a fire and the Fire Alarm was sounded. During this drill I was on the Bridge (however for exercise purposes they needed a missing person so my name was given to a manikin who got trapped in the paint cupboard). During the drill I shadowed the captain following the set steps, along with keeping communications with other areas of the ship and relaying information back to Kerian who was record keeping. The drill lasted just over 15 minutes and the auditor was very impressed by the conduct off all the crew. The audit was a fantastic one where we had no deficiencies, which the captain said 'it'll be a long time before that would happen again' and that it's taken him over 30 years to have an audit that has resulted in no deficiencies.

As a 2/O left ship that morning and we're in Port the watches are a bit different, not the normal 12 - 4, 4 -8, 8 - 12. Instead Kieran and I were on watch (just us, no officers!) between 6pm and 10pm when a night watchman took over until 7am when the Chief came onto the bridge. We did the same the next night, and on Wednesday the crew changed again, and the 'starboard watch' joined ship.

My last week has been my favourite so far. The lads on the port watch didn't really let me do much the few times I went on deck with them so I wasn't keen on deck work all that much, but the chief put me on deck work for the whole week with this crew and I've done so much, and learnt a lot! Here's my run down of the week! Also with this watch the girls are starting to take over…. Well there's 3 of us, out of 23…

Thursday 30th July

First day of my week on deck, I spent the morning driving the capstan to sort the chains out for the buoys in the chain locker. The rest of the time was done loading and sorting stores. At 6pm we set sail from Swansea to Oban where we'd be loading lots to take over to the Isle of May to do the work the Farros who's in Dry Dock after hitting a uncharted rock, while we were leaving the dock I was on deck again, driving the capstan and hauling in the ropes. As it got dark I headed up to the bridge to get to know the 2/O on duty a bit more, and compare steaming at night to daytime. While up there I also got to ask many questions, which we're all answered in great detail.

Friday 31st July

This day I spent doing PMs (Planned Maintenance), which started by climbing up the crane, one the AB's Ian, showed me how to use the crane and explained all the mechanics inside it then I got climb on top and walk over the top of it. This wasn't just for the walk we were up there greasing the mechanics and checking that everything was in order. We also carried out maintenance on the P28 and the workboat, along with greasing pulleys and some other stuff. I did have to giggle a wee bit at the term grease nipples. Was a fairly rough night as we got up into Scottish waters!

Saturday 1st August

Arrived in Oban about 9am, where we moored up to the quayside where the Pole Star, moored up to us and we transferred 3 buoys and some other stuff on to them. We then started loading stuff on to deck from the shore side. There was a lot of stuff! After being shown the helicopter for the 200+ lifts that will be happening we had the rest of the day to ourselves. My self and one the second officers went used this time to have a wander into Oban, which is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, in order to get Oliver and my grandparents a postcard, along with getting myself an irn-bru flavoured ice cream, which was so good! In the evening myself, Kieran, a 2/o, the chief, the stewardess and a few the ABs went into to town to the pub, and had a good night out!

Sunday 2nd August

Another day of loading, and another day where I went into town, this time to the whiskey distillery to buy my old man a bottle. I must say I was a tired Gadge that afternoon and may have fallen asleep watching The Simpsons in the rec room.  That evening we set sail again, unfortunately I didn't get to see the colours of Tobermory (Balamory) all that well, but the landscape was amazing.

Monday 3rd August

Today there was not too much going on, spent the morning doing some housework, vacuuming the rec rooms etc. Then joined the lads on deck where we spent the day filling the water tanks for the helicopter lifts. It needed 18 tonnes of water!!! The chief also showed me about Dangerous Goods and how to handle different things.

Tuesday was doing much the same as Monday, just preparing for Heli Ops, and that was the end of my week on deck. Wednesday I started my week on the bridge, compared to with the port watch, with this crew I'm actually doing proper watches (just the two 4-8s, not just 8-5), which is great- though the 0330 alarm isn't so!

I am loving my time here on the THV Galatea, both crews are great and I get on with (pretty much) everyone very well! I know at first I was a little disappointed that I'd be joining the ship in Swansea, when my college friends are seeing far more exciting places, but I have all my life to explore the world. Right now I am learning so much and having a great time. I do hope that one day, once I have seen the world and got a lot more experience in all areas of shipping that I can come back to Trinity House as a qualified officer.

09 April 2015

So that's my first term at Warsash done and I've loved it! Going to be strange going back with friends (especially those on my floor) who started engineering course in September going to have left and gone to sea, and HND's that I joined with going to sea a week after we get back.

In the past 9 weeks I've learnt:

- About buoyancy's, free surface movement, load lines, and small and large angle stability.
- How to plot a bearing, water track, ground track and much more
- How to plot on a radar to find 2 vessels closes point of approach
- Planning a course using Plane, Mercator and Great Circle Sailing
- How to calculate when high and low tide is at various ports around the world
- About taking bearings off a star or planet, calculating time at an exact place on the globe
- How a magnetic compass works, and how to cancel out as much magnetic interaction from the ships infrastructure.
- About how to load and unload various cargoes, and the importance of safety around cargo, and cleaning a tank
- and lots more!

I have also taken place in Sail4Cancer's 24 Hour Life Raft Challenge, which the previous blog is focused on. Also, the blog that I posted about the Life Raft has been edited in to an article format as my Liaison Officer would like to have it published in a magazine for previous Warsash cadets and officers. The challenge has raised over thirteen thousand pounds so far.

Most importantly I have made some fantastic friends, and I found a place where I feel I really belong.

Next term we have about 4 weeks of more learning/revision, and then we have exam week mid May. Following exam week is short courses. This includes fire fighting, sea survival, tanker familiarisation, first aid and much more.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend I spent three days in the pier head, at Barrow-In-Furness dock, with the hope to learn a little more about port operations. My days started at 5am, which was a little tough as I had missed my double bed while at Warsash, but it was all worth it.

My first day started with a safety briefing, and learning about the radio communications between the pier head and vessels, during my first few hours there was much conversation over the radio as approximately 20 smaller vessels (25m) went out to the local off shore wind farms. While on a tour of the port/docks I witnessed Wind, a platform vessel from Denmark move from one berth to another opposite to it. This move was so that the Oceanic Pintail, a PNTL nuclear flask ship could move from the dock to the berth. I was lucky enough to get on the bridge and shadow the pilot during the manoeuvre. During that day I also got the chance to go on a pilot vessel to meet a pilot of the Causeway, which is carrying out dredging in Barrow, and watch, and operate gates/locks controlling water levels in the port.
My 2nd and 3rd day were made up of going out on a pilot vessel to meet the City of Cardiff and shadow the pilot, who had before shown and explained the process in making a passage plan, and learning about the what happens when I comes into port, and its cargo discharging operations, and then shadowing the pilot as he took her out on the Saturday.
I found these few days very valuable, especially as it reinforced things that I had learnt in class and on paper, by seeing them in action, especially tides. I also learnt a lot regarding port operations, and hope this will come in useful in the future, I'm sure it will.

17 March 2015

I have just started my sixth week at WMA, and I love it. I have got to the point where I know what my favourite/least favourite lectures are, and I feel as if I truly belong here.

Our first week mainly consisted of introductions, talks from various companies, and professionals from the shipping industry. During our first week we also had the 'team building' activity of paintballing. The beginning of that day I did not want to get muddy or shot but 3 games later I was volunteering to be a zombie in a 6 against 60 battle - it hurt, but was great fun. The first week was also when most friendships were built. I had spoken to a few cadets via Facebook who joined with me, couple of which are sponsored by MEF, meaning they all knew each other before we got here, so I was quickly introduced to many great people. Also during my first week I had my first go at sailing, and found it so much fun I joined the Water Sports straight away, and have since sailed to the Isle of White as a day trip.

As the weeks have gone by our time table has started to fill out. I am enjoying the majority of the subjects, with my only weaker subject being cargo operations. At the moment my favourite subjects are Ship Stability, and Terrestrial Navigation, I think this is primarily due to the fact that we are always doing math based questions all throughout the lectures, whereas other subjects are very much reading out of a book and non-interactive presentations. I also like chart work, for this reason, although we have done many questions on paper, my tutor is constantly asking us questions out loud.

So far in ship stability we have explored using hydrostatic data, the basics of gravity and buoyancy and load lines, and the centre of gravity on a vessel. This has involved a lot of implementing maths and physics. Some areas are new to me, and some I have learned in previous education.

Although my maths lessons are optional I do attend nearly all of them, although so far it's all things I can do but I carry on going as I know the one time I decide not go will be the time it's a subject I find difficult. A lot of my off time table maths practice is helping a HND girl who lives on my floor to understand some of her work.

Cargo Operations is a topic that I feel I should find interesting, and there is elements of it I do like, and hope I can gain some experience working such as on reefer cargo ships. I do prefer wet cargo to dry, though I'm not sure if that's just I enjoy the chemistry side of oil production and stowage.

Generally I love WMA, although I sometimes feel a little 'Warsash fever' now and then. Having lived in a small village, and not being much of a going out partying person I'm not finding it so bad although there are times when I feel there could be more I could be doing if I had a car, or there was a train station in the village.

My evenings are mainly made up of doing work for a couple hours, having a walk - even if it's just down to the water or COOP, and there are three pub quizzes a week in the village, which I try and get to. Solent Student Union also put on a quiz every now and then on campus, where in the times they have I've come first, second and third. My weekend have involved a fair bit of sailing, along with two trips to London, the first to Greenwich led by David Barker, and the second to see a friend who treated me to see two of my favourite performers in CATS.

I'm looking forward to learning more over the coming weeks, along with being part of the team taking part in Sail4Cancer's 24 hour Life Raft Challenge in two weeks time. Here is the link to my blog post about the Life Raft Challenge: https://ellewatson94.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/we-did-it-wmalrc15/