Thursday, 11 September 2008

Reality v. Romance.

Our youngest daughter has always enjoyed sailing and back when she was at school aged 16 she took part in one of the Tall Ship races from Portsmouth, England to La Corunna, Spain. It was an exciting event for her and at just 16 years and 2 days old she was the youngest competitor in the race.

Every year a series of races for crews made up of young people under the age of 25 are given the opportunity for the experience of a lifetime. A chance to face a REAL test of their own stamina and personality. Not a fake 'reality' type event.

The Master of the ship, Morning Star, spoke to his crew as they left port and explained that the thrill of the ride was different to that in, say, Disneyland, as this was for real. People could, and sometimes did, get hurt. They should enjoy the experience but must understand that this was not a 'virtual' adventure.

As they fought their way across the Bay of Biscay in gale force 7-8 winds and high seas Lucy had good reason to recall what he had said to her earlier.

She had the experience of a lifetime, sailing with other young people, taking real responsibility for herself and for the others on board. She still enjoys and, at times, has made her living from sailing and I am grateful to the ship that introduced her to the real risk of living on the ocean.

Seeing this story in The Times this morning brings home the truth of the master's words. We can never be confident that the ocean is benign. TBH once told a retired Container Ship Captain that he loved the sea. TBH was chastened when the captain responded that the sea was a treacherous place and should only be treated with respect, not love.

Certainly as our experience has broadened we totally agree with him. An over romanticized view of our own abilities or the situation is only ever a dangerous one!

Crew from Ireland's national training vessel had to rescued from the Bay of Biscay early this morning after their ship started sinking.

A total of 20 trainee sailors and five crew members were on a ten-day trip from Falmouth, in Cornwall, to the French port of La Rochelle when their traditionally-rigged ship started taking on water.

Crew from the Asgard II were evacuated by lifeboat and picked up by a French coastguard vessel. They were taken to Belle Ile, a small island in the Bay of Biscay. All are said to be safe and well.

A spokesperson for the Irish Defence Department said that they did not know yet why the ship started to take on water and that there would be an investigation.

Willie O‘Dea said: “I discussed this with the Captain and the truth of the matter is nobody knows yet. Presumably they would have felt it.

“On the other hand the Captain said to me that the amount of water that came in and the speed at which the water accumulated indicated something like that, but we just cannot be sure at the moment."

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