Teenagers Take To The High Seas

04 July 2006

In May of this year, two groups of teenagers set off for a weekend of sailing with Sail 4 Cancer with a total of 20 youngsters taking part.  The two groups were made up of ten young cancer patients who had each taken a friend along with them to enjoy a weekend onboard the London Sailing Project’s boat the Helen Mary. None of the groups knew each other beforehand and none of them had sailed before, so it was with some trepidation that they went aboard to join the professional crew!

On the both trips, the crews spent the first night in dock in the Hamble, then rose early the next morning and were split into two teams; one team to get the boat ready to sail, the other to make breakfast.  At 8.30am on both trips they set sail for Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.

Yarmouth LifeboatSadly the weather was not kind to them at times.  However it would have taken more than disappointing weather to dampen this crew’s spirits and they took to playing charades and other silly games in the cockpit.  Michelle and Nicole took it upon themselves to cheer everyone up on the first trip by making a fabulous banoffee pie. The impact was somewhat lost however when they proceeded to eat half of it themselves!

On the Saturday evenings, the crews feasted on TWO garlic roast legs of lamb, roast potatoes and full trimmings!  On Sunday morning, there was a huge treat in store, as the skipper had organised for Yarmouth lifeboat to take the youngsters out on a breathtaking ride around the Needles before they set sail back to the Hamble.

For a group who had never sailed before, both crews learned incredibly quickly, rapidly becoming skilled in basic navigation, the rules of the sea – and of course knot tying. Sam and John were the stars, hoisting the sail in record time. Both the professional crew and Emma Huddert from Sail 4 Cancer, who had accompanied the youngsters, were impressed at how the groups had gelled together.

Emma recounts:

“We had such fun. Lucy and Sarah have particularly infectious laughs and just giggled all weekend. I’ve never heard anyone laugh so much!”

Teenage Sailing Weekend - Sail 4 CancerBut then perhaps it was understandable that the groups became so close, as these young people have had to endure such physical pain and mental anguish. As John explained, it was great to know that he was not the only one who had suffered, that other people on the boat had gone through the same problems and heartache.

The problem with having an illness like cancer during what is already a difficult time of your life is that many of your friends cannot deal with the situation and tend to back off. So to be there with people who understood, learning something new together, with their whole lives in front of them was brilliant. Here none of them was “the kid with cancer”.  They were part of a team.

Having arrived back in the Hamble at 2pm, the team had lunch on board, before going their separate ways. Before they left for home however, each was given a signed copy of Nick Moloney’s  book on the Jules Verne.  Just in case they needed any more inspiration to try sailing again!

Since returning home, the emails have been flying around as they all want to keep in touch with their new found friends.  And to go sailing again – with all the same team, of course.

Because, as Dean says, they were just such a:

“Top laugh”.

Teenagers Take To The High Seas
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