TS Royalist is the flagship of the Sea Cadet Corps. A 29m square rigged brig, she has taken thousands of Sea Cadets to sea a week at a time. I first sailed on her in November 1993 for the residential project of my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Although a Watch Officer and therefore a member of the adult crew looking after the Sea Cadets, both the Sea Cadet ethos and square rig sailing were completely new to me. Those in charge felt I hadn’t gelled enough to pass the residential project, instead suggesting a Watch Officer’s training course.
Undeterred, I attended my Watch Officer’s training course the following May. I found out years later that they had never expected to see me again, so they were somewhat surprised to see me.
Sailing as a yardsman, I was the youngest member of the crew. Sailing out of the Channel Islands in a Force 5, who was out on the top yard so that we could set the topgallant? Oh yes, that was me. I loved it, passed the course, and joined the Sea Cadet Corps as an Instructor the following week.
There followed several weeks sailing as Watch Officer over several years. I also qualified as an RYA Day Skipper while sailing as Mate in some of their smaller yachts – so boats that have winches aren’t entirely new to me!
I left the Corps in 2001 but continued sailing in TS Royalist until 2004. My final week as Watch Officer resulted in a phone call to my boss asking if I could take the next week off. Why are you calling me on your holiday? Because I don’t want to come back next week! You see, TS Royalist could not sail without a Coxswain. The Relief Coxswain that week was me.
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