So over the weekend Grassroots Cardiff teamed up with Challenge Wales to give me and 4 other young people an amazing opportunity to build self-esteem and gain valuable life skills. We went on a 3 day sailing voyage from Penarth to West Wales, an unforgettable adventure. Have a lil read about our weekend and HMU if you're interested in getting involved with something similar in future❤.
The sea was my biggest fear so when I imagined being on the boat for a whole 3 days I felt sick and almost dropped out, however I've always told myself that greater things are on the other side of my comfort zone - I knew the feeling I'd get once the trip was completed would make it all worth it. I think all of our nerves were settled a lot after our warm friendly welcome by the lovely team we spent our weekend with, S/O Paul, Sam, Emily, Steve and Ceri for her support through the whole journey.
After getting onto the boat I remember feeling surprised with how calm and homely it felt on board, we had a sofa, proper kitchen, dining table, cute little bedrooms and bathrooms - pretty obvious really since we'd be living on it lol. But most of us had never sailed before so who knew what to expect, a pleasant surprise! The beds were leather and reminded me of prison beds, cold and uninviting, however after putting our own personal touch on them by adding pillows and cosy throws it soon felt like home.
3/5/2019 11:30am - After our intro and safety debrief we took to the seas heading from Penarth Marina, West to Swansea.
I remember the feeling when we started getting further and further out to sea, we all felt on top of the world it was beautiful. We played about as if we were on the Titanic doing the typical scene I know you know. Seeing life from a different perspective, the views I usually admire and look out on I was now looking in on from sea. The feeling was so calming and I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and like I could breathe freely.
"Who's making a cuppa then" - silly me said I would, as if making tea for 11 wasn't long enough the last thing I expected was a rocking stove and worktops!!! It was a team effort for sure, may sound dramatic but I defo wouldn't have been able to do it on my own, with Rhiannon on the milk and Marshell on the waiting the impossible job was made possible with team work. Living in such a small environment with 10 strangers was tough but we knew we had to work together and be considerate to get through it. Small things like making each other drinks and food and tidying up helped keep the peace.
The skipper prepared us for a long day as we'd be going straight to Swansea without stopping and the weather was not the best. Our first impressions aboard the boat were definitely an example of the calm before the storm, the chilled boat soon turned into a fair ride as we bounced up and down along the waves. Looking out to a never ending sea was scary but gave us such a thrill. Our adrenaline was rushing and it was like the best ride ever smashing through the sea with water splashing everywhere and waves crashing in the distance.
We had a few naturals when it came to sailing and steering the boat S/O Marshell and Antonella. I tried to take the wheel myself but let's just say my antics woke everybody up as I nearly tipped us over haa. The chaos of the ride was all fun and games until a few hours passed and it was all still going on - we started to get cold so went to take a seat in the dining area but below deck was 100 times rougher so made us all major dizzy. We had a dilemma - avoid sickness by staying up top but freeze to death OR sit downstairs with a very high chance of puking. I was back and forth back and forth until I couldn't take it and had to take a lie down in my bed. Laying down wasn't so bad it was kind of relaxing with the sound of the water around you, I felt like a baby rocking in a cot.
After my hours nap during the rough seas I woke up, put on my life jacket and went out to the cockpit. To my surprise we we're no longer in the muddy sea of Penarth but we'd arrived at Swansea Marina where the sun was shining, waters were calm and the stress of the sea sickness was gone and forgotten. I was a little hopeless when it came to working on the boat so I sat back and took some pretty pictures. The team worked hard to get the boat docked at the marina. I remember pulling up and laughing with the girls because we felt like Royals as everybody was waving to us!!!
So after such an action packed crazy day, we were relieved to be safe and sound and chilling at the marina. We settled down and changed out of our dampened waterproofs and into something comfier before taking a little walk around Swansea to explore. After doing some shopping we headed back to our home for the weekend and admired some of the stunning boats along the way. On arrival we smelt our food being cooked, Paul was cooking up a tasty curry for us which was kind of him after he'd already looked after us all day! We sat around the table and played some cards and magic tricks before tucking into our food. Sadly, after tea one of the team members Tia had to go home due to sickness - it was a shame for her to leave but she did well!
I took a seat out on the deck and wrote a few poems and reflected on how lucky we were to have this opportunity, many of us said we were living the wrong life in the city as it was so relaxing and chilled on the boat! As the sun set and the cold of the shade hit me, I went inside and got ready for bed. A long first day for sure, but we we're full of excitement and raring to go for the next day. I was pleased to hear that Antonella had brought her iPad and downloaded some movies so after a cuppa t we went to bed and fell asleep watching 'Just Go With It'.
4/5/2019 6am - An early start for us on Adventure Wales, after a chilly night we arose from our dens like bed monsters wrapped in layers of blankets fearing the morning cold. Our bodies begging to stay warm a litter longer, just a little longer please!! But I'm proud of my team for getting up ready to smash the day despite heavy rain on this grey damp morning. The weather made the day a dreaded one, sitting around the table nervously eating our cereal and toast I just wisheddddd the rain would disappear - this is NOT what the weather forecast told us?! We started our journey one member down but still standing strong. The time come to leave Swansea and head to Milford Haven, to our luck the rain had disappeared and throughout the day it brightened up even more.
3:50pm @ Milford Marina "I write to you now while sitting under blue skies, sitting on the front of the boat watching a family of swans gracefully float by – let’s not leave out the crazy whistling wind blowing my hair to each point of the compass”.
But let's just have a recap of Saturday's beautiful memories...
Compared to Friday’s drama, Saturday was pure luxury, I felt as if I was on a yacht on holidays. When the sun is shining down over the pretty coastlines there is really no need to travel far when Wales is so lovely. We sat with our legs hanging over the sides of the boat trying to spot some dolphins but they must have all been hiding because all we spotted was hundreds of pink and purple jelly fish. We we’re all so shocked with how huge these jelly fish were and to see them bobbing about in the wild was still fascinating. As we got closer to our destination for the night we sailed past beautiful fallen cliffs and made out patterns in the walls, there was one which was like an enormous game of Jenga it was bound to fall soon. What I found so captivating was the patches of shade across the sea and the cliffs, being far out at sea it gave us a wide view of our surroundings so the clouds moving over different patches of land made it all the more dreamy.
As lunchtime approached we prepared some soups and sandwiches to keep us going for the rest of our trip. We anchored off in the sun and appreciated the scenery around us, straight ahead there were grassy hills with a trail of campervans up the road – Steve told us it was free to park and stay there so they get a little surfers community who go there during summertime. I imagined a little group of hippies with swaying hair all chilling having BBQ’s (vegan obvs) and partying. We could hear loud rumbling in the background over to the right of the boat, as we looked and grabbed the binoculars there we’re three motorbikes on a deserted golden beach zooming in and out of the water carving patters intro the sand. I didn’t feel as if I was in Wales at all more like Egypt or something when looking out at the beach. As the wind blew on our faces and we looked out at the glittering waters from the sunshine, dolphin swam in a long trail ahead of us in the distance – they rarely dipped out of the waters but every now and again their fins would poke out above the sea – it was so exciting I didn’t take my eyes off for a good half hour after in hope of seeing more of them but sadly I didn’t.
During the day we sat down with Paul to do some navigation lessons learning about the different signals etc. I never realised how much work went into sailing a boat!!! After another long day we enjoyed a relaxing evening at Milford Marina. We streamed the football and some sat down to watch that whilst Antonella cooked us a proper Italian Bolognaise for tea. The sun was still warm and the wind had died down a little so I went to wash the boat windows with Sam, the whole time I was just imagining that I owned the boat and how nice it would be to have one and just escape from time to time!!!! I wishhhh!!!!
After our chilly night on the Friday when it came to bedtime on Saturday there was no chance we were letting ourselves get cold, so we wrapped ourselves up in loads of layers and even found a little electric heater. We ate some munchies and washed them down with a cuppa t again before heading to bed. We fell asleep this night watching ‘Step Brothers’ – we were all exhausted so slept well and even got a little lie in on Sunday.
5/5/2019 8am – A little lie in compared to yesterday’s early start! We enjoyed a cooked brekky on our last morning aboard the boat. I felt a sense of sadness that it was our last day but also relieved that I’d be going home to my own bed! After breakfast we packed up our bags ready to leave later in the day and headed out to explore some islands of West Wales. We were all hanging this day but despite being tired the team worked so hard to work the sails and get the boat moving (while I sat back and got pics lol) – it was hard work but by working as a team they managed to succeed and they improved every time they tried. I was so proud to see them working together so well and getting stuck into it all.
Our weather in this country is crazy - one minute you feel like you’re in the Bahamas sunbathing catching some rays the next minute a cloud comes and you’re freezing in the Arctic. When the sun was out we’d lay on the deck of the boat looking up the sky watching the flag waving with the wind. It was so peaceful. Then comes the cloud and we would hibernate in the living room with blankets and biscuits while watching a movie. The best of both worlds.
Like Saturday, Sundays waters were calm – I think we were all in a major chill mood on the Sunday, probably just appreciating our last few hours on the boat. Sitting with our legs dangling off the sides we saw dolphins again!!!! Again only slightly in the distance but it was still a beautiful thing to see. Some were even lucky enough to see seals which I was soooo gassed about but by the time I got to see it had just turned into a little black blob because we were so far away by now.
I can’t thank Grassroots and Challenge Wales enough for this great experience we we’re given it was for sure one to remember. I said it before and I’ll say it again – It is SO important to get away to clear your mind and reflect on your life and future, this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Being out of your comfort zone opens your mind to things you may have never thought of and being away from your usual gang helps you reconnect with yourself and remember what matters to you.
If anybody would like to get involved with projects at Grassroots or see what opportunities Challenge Wales have on offer please check out their websites or don’t hesitate to contact me.
Again thank you Grassroots & Challenge Wales.