Sea Cadets Celtic adventures

TS Jack Petchy is a 24-metre twin-engine power training vessel. She carries 12 cadets, 4 permanent crew and 2 CFAVs (Cadet Force Adult Volunteers) on each voyage.

There are 4 qualifications that cadets can gain ranging from Offshore Hand 1 to Offshore Watch Leader. Not only do cadets gain qualifications but they also learn how to steer (helm) the ship, navigation and chartwork skills, basic engineering skills and learn how to live with others. All of these are done by having fun and seeing new places.

PO (SCC) Rebecca Shepheard of Bournemouth Sea Cadets recently undertook 2 offshore voyages supervising cadets from across the England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on voyages lasting 1 week each.

Voyage 1 was Penzance to Dun Laoghaire, the plan being to sail Sunday afternoon visiting ports up the west coast of England and Wales before transiting across to Ireland. Plans are always good however mother nature had other ideas…

Due to a storm forecasted to be battering the UK’s west coast the highly unusual decision was made to transit straight across the Celtic and Irish sea in one long 26 hr overnight passage, this is something that is not normally done due to the strains that the adult staff are put under while undertaking 2hr on 2hr off watches, the cadets each do 1 90mins watch consisting of navigation and helm.

As we crossed the Irish sea, we were escorted by pods of dolphins that jumped over the bow and played in the wake of the ship, as well as seals and even a whale. While conducting training exercises with the man overboard dummies and sea boat operations TS Jack Petchy also took part in the citizen science secchi study. This is a study that aims to analyse the amount of phytoplankton in the sea, this is important because studies have found that the concentrations have declined by 40% over the last 50 years due the rise in sea temperatures associated with climate change. Phytoplankton is important because they generate about 50% of the atmosphere’s oxygen, that’s as much a year as all land plants. In short, they make most other ocean life possible.

Voyage 2 took us from Dun Laoghaire to Belfast via Douglas on the Isle of Man. As the cadets were working towards the more advanced qualifications more time was spent on the bridge in charge of the ship on this voyage compared to the previous one.

We anchored off Lambay Island (home of Irelands wallaby’s) overnight and did anchor watches. We lifted anchor the following morning and undertook the 7-hour passage to Douglas. One of the older Marine Cadets who was completing his watch leader’s qualification planned the passage back from Douglas to Bangor arriving in horizonal rain.  As the passage to Belfast was only 90 mins, we had clean ship and captains rounds prior to our departure.
On arrival into Belfast, we had afternoon shore leave and had our last evening meal back on board prior to my 3am start for my journey home.  The cadets were to leave at 7 as they had shorter journeys or different flight times.

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