Friday, 27 June 2014

Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust Sailing Trip

I have just been on an amazing trip of a lifetime. I don't know if any of you are familiar with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. I'm sure you have most likely heard of Ellen MacArthur herself, the woman who holds the world record for sailing around the world alone. The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national organisation that takes young people like myself, aged between 8-24 sailing to help them regain confidence after suffering with a serious illness such as cancer. Thanks to the trust and organisation of my CLIC Sargent support worker, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the trip. Before going I was worrying about it, just the fact of being away was a start, meeting new people which I am always super nervous and having to talk about my cancer a lot and having to stay on a boat. I had never been sailing before and didn't have the slightest idea what to expect but amazingly it was an experience I will never forget. 
When we arrived at East Cowes, Isle Of Wight we met the volunteers who were all lovely, we were then put into our boat crews, there were 26 young people all together and 6 different boats. Luckily I was put with someone I already knew which was nice but it was just as nice to meet some new people. In order to try and get to know others we were staying with we had to complete a variety of team building activities and share an interesting fact about ourselves, mine was that I write a blog about my cancer journey which has been viewed by people from around the world...I guess it's pretty interesting and something I am really proud of. We finished the day by eating fish and chips and ice cream!( seeing as I didn't like fish, I opted for battered sausage) We then went back to our yachts and settled in our cabins and spent the first evening docked at East Cowes Marina.
We were ready to set sail the following day. We had to wear life jackets before being allowed to sit on the deck as one of the safety procedures. We were also told all safety rules on board and were made aware of all the hazards on board a yacht. I was expecting to feel severely sick living and moving on a yacht for several days hence why I packed a million anti sick pills.. but not once did I feel sick :), actually tell a lie the only time I felt a little sick was when I had to go down to the cabin and change my clothes whilst we were sailing. 
We learnt basic knowledge and sea terms such as naming boat parts, rigging and sails. We all got really involved with the crew life and working as a team. This involved us steering the yacht and full experience handling ropework where we learnt about knots, bowlines and securing a rope to a cleat by the use of winches. My favorite part of the day was being able to sit on the bow of the yacht, for safety reasons we had to wear a harness as the sea was pretty bumpy but it was the best experience ever. 
We sailed to Yarmouth where we planned to dock for the night. We prepared and ate tea on the boat and then went to play rounders on a field. I was so lucky to have such lovely people on my boat, we were like a little family and all go on so well. In the evenings we were always the hosts and people from other yachts came to ours to play games of articulate, headbands and chinese whispers, we were known as the party boat. After a long night of fun and games we earned some rest for a busy day ahead. 
Our next stop was to NewTown, this time we weren't docking anywhere for the evening, our plan was to just anchor in the water. In the morning we went aboard a lifeguard boat which was interesting, we got to explore every park of the boat and I was surprised how big they are inside. Then we set sail for the day, I got the opportunity to steer the yacht on different points of sail meaning in different wind direction and power. When anchoring in NewTown we had some lunch and then got told that we were in for a surprise. We were all oblivious and didn't have a clue what was in store. One of our crew mates thought that Beyonce was going to surprise us! haha...we wished! It turned out that our surprise was to have a ride on a speedboat!! I had never been on a speedboat and was kind of shitting myself but it was amazing! It went so so fast and felt unbelievable. The speedboat dropped us to a beach where we had a BBQ for tea, in the day while we were sailing we made a dessert as we were told there would be a competition for the best dessert/salad. Our boat made 2 desserts and one of them won!! The food was all delicious and we were all definitely fat and full after eating lots of delicious food. It was quite sad that it was the final day of our trip but at the same time it felt good to reflect on all the amazing things I had achieved in the past days. After leaving the beach we had our usual party games in our cabin till late and watched the beautiful sun set. We did plan on sleeping on deck to wake up at sun rise but it was freezing and damp so just decided to wake up really early instead....we failed as we were all so tired and zonked out so missed it. Some people did get up in time at stupid o'clock in the morning and said it was stunning. 
Waking up on a boat was just bliss. We made breakfast and a cup of tea, sat on deck and enjoyed the peacefulness and beautiful view of the sea with some amazing friends. Faced with another surprise on our final morning we got to meet Ellen MacArthur herself, I was truly stunned and didn't know what to say other than it was amazing what she accomplished and this is an incredible charity. If you haven't heard of Ellen MacArthur, she was the woman who in 2004 on board the 75ft trimaran B&Q set sail around the world. She returned 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, 33 seconds later, having sailed over 26,000 miles to become the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed. After completing that she has now founded this amazing charity. 
I can't quite believe the amount of amazing opportunities having cancer has given me. I am so grateful of all the hard work people put into organising these trips. I have been able to meet some amazing people with fascinating stories who without being diagnosed with cancer I wouldn't have met. Not only have I met these amazing people through having cancer but also through the Ellen MacArthur trust. Meeting others and having fun is the key to recovery post cancer. Not only has the trip allowed me to do this but it has also helped me rebuild confidence and I have learnt so much about myself and sailing that I never knew before. I am looking forward to returning to sail next year and would advise anyone to attend if they have the opportunity to go. I also gained a RYA qualification for a practical sailing course. I have a certificate to certify that I completed the Starting Yachting part and can continue with the qualification to gain a full sailing qualification.  Before going on this sailing trip I put it off for a while thinking it wasn't for me as I have never sailed in my life but It was much different to my expectations and a positively once in a lifetime experience. 
Always Smiling x


  1. Oh my word, you were on the same trip as my best friend, Zeena! x

    1. Hi Jenny I met Zeena, she is lovely! Tell her I said heyy! It was such an amazing trip x