The first of Oarsome Chance’s students has returned from a week’s sailing with the Rona Sailing Project (RSP) – an organisation which provides opportunities for young people to go to sea, to give them the experience of a lifetime, greater self-confidence and a new perspective on the world.

Thanks to a generous donation by a friend of Oarsome Chance, Kaya joined a crew sailing a 62ft Sail Training yacht, ‘Merrilyn’ from Southampton along the south coast. 

Kaya had a fantastic time on the voyage, getting to know the rest of the crew and taking on her responsibilities as part of Port Watch. Kaya took the trouble to keep a log of all her experiences which gives us a taste of the ups and downs of her time on Merrilyn – here are some extracts:

“On Saturday I [was picked up from] Southampton airport parkway to go to Southampton Universal, where Rona Sailing Project (RSP) is based… After we got given our life jackets we took all our stuff to the pontoons where we had to take our stuff to get to Merrilyn….

On Sunday morning we set off at 7:00… during our sail to Weymouth my watch had to make lunch. This was amusing as we kept rocking side to side and food kept going everywhere. When we got to Weymouth… we all went down to the beach to go play frisbee and rounders after mucking around for a while the mate, skipper and the two watch leaders (Joe and Ollie) went for a swim in the freezing cold. After that we all went to the boat had dinner and settled down.

On Monday we didn’t leave Weymouth as the weather was really bad so we stayed on the boat for a while and learnt some competent crew stuff … During the day we got to go out to look at places in Weymouth but while we was out they made an easter egg hunt for us all around the boat to build teamwork on the boat between our watches…

On Tuesday we left at 7:00am … we ended up sailing to Yarmouth and the weather was just beautiful. It rained every now and then but it wasn’t too hot or too cold which made it okay… Once we got to Yarmouth we got some time to go out and have a look around, we had dinner and then we went to the beach at night to play the tin game, tug of war and leg wrestle at the beach although it was cold it got our energy out and we fell asleep as soon as we got back to the boat…

On Wednesday… we anchored for lunch as the weather wasn’t too bad but once we set off we were able to actually sail as the wind started to pick up. After 3/4 hours of sailing we ended up in Portsmouth at Gunwharf. So we stayed in Gunwharf for the night.

It got to Thursday, where everyone was getting very tired now and we were sailing for a good 9 hours… Once we got to Cowes… we all stayed up till around 11 ish playing games and getting along with each other while listening to music which was really fun.

On the Friday, the last day :( we had to clean the whole boat out by lifting up all of the floorboards and cleaning them, cleaning all the bilge pumps, clearing the whole kitchen, making sure that everything was neat and tidy… but while we were putting everything back we kept finding easter eggs from the egg hunt… Once all of that was done we headed back to Southampton and cleaned a bit more. Then all got ready to leave and say goodbye :(. But that week was absolutely amazing. Thank you so much :)”

RSP trips are fantastic for young people who may not usually have the opportunity to access this kind of adventure - as we have seen with Kaya, students benefit from an amazing experience they will very likely never forget. We plan to enable more young people who attend our programmes to follow in Kaya’s footsteps - if you would be interested in providing funds towards a bursary for one or more of our students to embark on an RSP adventure, then please get in touch: [email protected].

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