Aboard the Pelican of London!

On 4 June 2018 I travelled to Dublin to begin my journey on The Pelican of London. When walking to the ship my feelings were a mix of fear and excitement. I was looking forward to making the ship my home for the next 10 days. We left Dublin Port in a parade of sail and, seeing the other tall ships sailing around us, was amazing. There were people from all over the country on the ship and everyone quickly got chatting to each other.

We anchored in Dun Laoghaire and began our training. We were shown how to put on the harnesses and, with difficulty, we managed to put them on. I was the first trainee to climb the rigging and the feeling of adrenaline while doing it made me want to stay up there. The next morning we set sail for Cork. There was very little wind so we weren’t moving very quickly but the sun was shining and we were having fun getting to know each other.

We experienced our first night watch as my group was on watch from 12.00 till 04.00. Sailing during the night was so peaceful. You might think that four hours is a long time to be on watch but we easily passed the time by telling stories, laughing and drinking tea. Over the next few days we were taught about how the ship works and we began to feel very comfortable on the ship. After three days’ sailing we arrived and dropped anchor in Ballycotton near Cork Harbour. We went swimming from the boat and the atmosphere on board was lovely. That night we played cards and people played their musical instruments and sang.

The next day we docked in Cork Harbour and over the weekend we got the chance to show the public around the ship. Although we had only been on the ship six days we had become very familiar with it and had somewhat forgotten how impressive the ship looked. The public was in awe that we were sailing aboard the ship and we got to hear stories about people’s experiences on other tall ships.

We left Cork on Sunday evening and faced windy weather and wavy seas on the way back to Dublin. Everyone got to spend a day in the galley, or kitchen, to help the chef. It was a challenge to work in such a small environment and with the ship rolling back and forth. However, it was a nice feeling knowing that I had helped prepare the meals that fed all the trainees and crew for a day. On Wednesday we docked in Dublin. We tidied all the sails and cleaned the ship. That night we had a party during which each group performed a song and there was a prize-giving.

My time on the ship passed so quickly and it is an experience I will never forget. I have both dinghy and yacht sailing experience but it was amazing to have the opportunity to sail on a tall ship. I would recommend this experience to people with and without sailing experience because it is an environment that is both challenging and rewarding. Climbing the mast, living in a small place, making new friends and spending time away from home are all skills that will help you in the future.

I have developed friendships with people from all over the country. The trainees, mentors and crew made the experience one that I will never forget. We laughed together, drank way too much tea together and learned how to sail the ship together. The amazing views from the top of the mast, the sunsets and sunrises and the ship with all the sails out are images that I will remember forever.

I hope that one day I’ll get another chance to sail aboard a tall ship.