A unique hands-on experience!
We usually sail with four 'Sea Staff': a Skipper, Mate and two Watch Officers. Quite often, we also have two Watch Leaders; they are just like you! Watch Leaders are young people who have sailed and shown some leadership potential and are invited to sail as a volunteer.
You'll become an essential and integral member of the crew. Being a good crew member is more than just sailing but also includes getting involved with food preparation, maintenance, navigation and cleaning.
When you arrive, you will be issued a life jacket for which you will be responsible during the voyage. We'll transfer to Helen Mary R via the ship's tender, where you'll meet your Skipper and the other leaders on the boat, collectively called the 'Afterguard' and the crew you'll be sailing with.
You will be assigned to your Watch (team) and be allocated a bunk. Helen Mary R's interior can be considered 'dormitory style' with bunks arranged in three areas; the upper & lower saloon and forepeak.
Trips usually are mixed gender, and girls have a curtained area to get changed behind. Two toilets (called heads) and elementary washing facilities are on board. However, there are no showers. We will ensure that there are opportunities to shower ashore during the week.
The Skipper and Afterguard will give various safety briefings, and then we will set out to sea, where everyone will learn how to sail the yacht. You do not need any prior sailing knowledge. On the first day, we will carry out a Man Overboard drill.
Every voyage is different, but you can generally expect to spend some nights tied up in a marina with access to the shore, some anchored, and some sailing. It's not all sailing, and there will generally be the chance to explore some of the towns or places we sail to and do other activities, such as swimming, if the conditions are right. The itinerary for each voyage depends on the weather, and Skipper's primary objective is always the safety of the vessel and everyone aboard.
The Watch System
Part of the adventure of a Sail Training voyage is visiting far-flung places. We have to learn to work together to cook, clean and navigate to ensure Helen Mary R gets to her planned destination.
Depending on the type of voyage you have signed up for, we may head to sea for a few days at a time. Quite often, this means following a ‘Watch System’.
The watch system allows the activities of the voyage to continue right through the day and night, although you will have times when you are on or off duty (on or off watch). Precisely how the watches are organised will be decided by your skipper, according to your destination and the weather.
The system we often use aboard has watches that are four hours long, with two two-hour watches at the end of the afternoon as follows:
- First Watch
- 2000 - 0000
- Middle Watch
- 0000 - 0400
- Morning Watch
- 0400 - 0800
- Forenoon Watch
- 0800 - 1200
- Afternoon Watch
- 1200 - 1600
- First Dog Watch
- 1600 - 1800
- Second Dog Watch
- 1800 - 2000
Become the Skipper!
At the end of the voyage, you'll receive an informal 'fore-deck chat' with your Watch Officer & Skipper.
The chat will cover how you think you got on, what you achieved, and, of course, allow you to give us feedback too!
You will receive a recommendation for Watch Leader training if you have shown leadership ability. If chosen as a Watch Leader, you can join Morvargh Sailing Project as an Afterguard member. You will be in a position of responsibility and will, with training, lead a group of young people (just like you) and help run the yacht.
If you continue with the Project, you will have the opportunity to further your skills and progress through the ranks and advance towards being Watch Officer, Mate, and even if you wanted, Skipper!