As the 2019 season draws to a close and a new decade is about to begin it’s always a good time to reflect on what we’ve achieved and what we want to achieve. Sitting here mulling over life it’s amazing to think that we started Morvargh nearly 10 years ago!

Morvargh Sailing Project started life as a dissertation for a HND in Countryside (outdoor) Recreation Management at Bicton College; I was 26 and had returned to education to change tacks in life. The HND gave me a great grounding in running outdoor education centres and learning about teaching & coaching in the outdoors. One of my lecturers volunteered with the Rona Trust in Southampton and he gave me the opportunity to join a voyage with him sailing as a watch leader / supernumary.

This experience changed my life! We crossed the channel to France and the Channel Islands sailing a little over 220nm in a week. The group aboard worked hard and made some life changing discoveries; not only did it change the lives of the young people aboard, it changed mine. I saw the potential of sail training, the power of learning through adversity, the way it improves and changes lives. This epoch moment in my life saw me researching ways youth development is used in sail training – what came out; a youth development programme to be used on a sail training vessel and the idea of Morvargh was born.

Fast forward 7 years and I ended up working at Bicton College as the senior warden, looking after 267 students (16+) living residentially. The senior warden job was problably the most challenging in my life and I saw a lot of ups and downs. Financially, further education colleges struggle and in 2009 I was made redundant. It is strange how life aligns sometimes and also during this time the Rona Trust put Helen Mary R up for sale (they were building a new boat). I had been working on a business plan for a while and after an interview with the bank we were told we could borrow the funds to buy the boat; as long as we had a house to secure the loan!

Morvargh was born as a Community Interest Company in January 2010! As with all new social enterprises we made a lot of mistakes but also saw increasing voyages year on year, eventually getting to a near break even positon in 2013. It was hard work, it was stressful, but we were doing ok; until our annual survey in May 2013. Our standing rigging (the wire that holds up the masts) needed to be replaced. The cost £12,000! As you can imagine, three years in to running a social enterprise we didn’t have the funds to do the work. We stopped operating. The bank pulled support.

This period in our lives was pretty dark; we were forced to sell the house the loan was secured on, and we put Helen Mary R up for sale.

But there was light at the end of the tunnel; I started working for a delivery company, delivering by sea; Princess, Sunseeker and Fairline motor yachts. Coupled with my wife’s income, this gave us just enough to hold onto the dream. We moved onto Helen Mary R, and started saving, fundraising, and trying desperately to keep the dream alive.

At the end of 2016 we did it! By using our overdrafts, credit cards, and donations the rigging was replaced and the boat re-coded! (and the rudder taken out and fixed but that’s another £1000 story). We can’t thank everyone enough who donated, helped and supported us through this time! The replacement of the rigging and the re-coding cost us something the in region of £15,000 in the end.

In April 2017 we set sail on ASPIRE360, a round Britain challenge with 8 young people! The emotion of getting to that point was huge, we had made it!

The young people were an amazing group, mostly around 14years old and other than the odd dinghy sailing none of them had set foot on a boat before! We sailed out the Western Entrance of Plymouth Sound and 1777nm, 44 days, and 17 different ports later we sailed back in again! A life changing adeventure!

The last couple of years have seen us slowly building the Project and filling more voyages. My wife and I deliver yachts, have an internet company, and run a consultancy business alongside running the Project which allows us to support it financially; thankfully those dark, dark days are behind us. Which brings us to the present day.

As we approach Morvargh’s birthday it’s time to take stock, to look at the next ten years, to think about what we want to achieve and building Morvargh is high on the list.

Recently we have joined the amazing community in Fowey by being part of their regatta every year. One thing this has shown us is how much being part of a community is important to us, how being part of and supporting that community can open doors to collaboration and in promoting the use of sail training to inspire and change lives! We have struggled in Plymouth to join this community, to belong somewhere, to be part of something bigger sadly. Being part of regatta week has really shown to us that this community belonging is a key element that is missing from both Morvargh and our own lives. Being part of a community is high on our list of priorities!

But what about voyages? What can we do to engage more young people? ASPIRE360 was an amazing voyage and it showed us there was a real passion for more expedition and adventure type voyages and what better way to celebrate Morvargh being 10 than by sailing around Great Britain again! We also have a few more exciting expeditions up our sleeves and in the planning stages!

  • 2020 – ASPIRE360, Round Britian Challenge
  • 2021 – EXPEDITION NORTH – England, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland
  • 2022 – EXPEDITION SOUTH – England, France, Spain, Portugal

We can also thank Fowey and the regatta for exciting a passion for racing! Although there is stacks of room for improvement; we’ve been in last place in the last 2 races we entered! #WinningIsForLosers he he. You can look forward to Morvargh entering the following races!

  • 2020 – Fowey / Flushing race for children from the Fowey area
  • 2020 – Eddystone Pursuit (not quite a race but fun!)
  • 2020 – ASTO Small Ships Race
  • 2021 – Classic Channel Regatta (waiting on eligibilty)
  • 2021 – Fowey / Flushing race for children from the Fowey area

We’re excited to be sharing these plans with you and to be able to look forward to the next 10 years where we build Morvargh Sailing Project into a strong sail training organisation. What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts as to how we can engage with more young people and if you have 5hrs free a week why not get in touch!

Fair Winds

Matt

1 Comment

  • Graham Slack,

    What a brilliant story,,, and so much more to come.

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