In 1992 I had one of the most amazing trips I have ever done. As a youth leader I accompanied a group of 16-20 year olds on a journey to the Netherlands.
This was not any old journey – we were travelling over the sea in a ship.
This was not any old ship this was a Tall Ship – Morning Star of Revelation – Morning Star for short.
We gathered at Chatham Docks one Friday evening in August 1992. After stowing our goods on board and unpacking we headed out of harbour ad travelled a short way down the coast to moor in a creek.
The next day it was a short hop round to Dover and then out to see. As we left harbour the wind got up and the swell increased. Sea sickness ensued and a lot of us spent time on deck rather than down below. Little did we realise what was about to come our way.
There are no photos of the evening and night which followed. Simply no time. This was perhaps the scariest and in retrospect the most exhilarating night crossing. The wind and waves grew higher and stronger as the day drew to an end. What followed was a night where we honestly felt we were going to die. Sea sickness kept me on deck most of the night as the ship was pounded by mountainous seas – for us anyway. The wind was Force 6 or 7 and the boat oscillated up and down relentlesslessly – spray drenching the deck. Turning back was not an option and the vast majority of us were volunteers with a small number of experienced crew. Nonetheless we pulled together – took our orders and did what we needed to get through. As dawn broke we neared the Dutch coast and the seas calmed. We arrived at Vlissingen exhausted but relieved.
The port of Vlissingen is close to the town of Middelberg and this is where we spent a few hours exploring the town. After the night we’d had walking on dryland was a little weird at first.
We traveled along the coast and moored for the night. After an evening meal on the beach we had an amazingly clear sky allowing us to sea numerous shooting stars – a great way to end the day.
The next day we crossed through a canal entering another sea here we set sale for Zierkiksee, where again we moored up and explored the town. This part of the Netherlands is also known as Holland and here there were windmills galore.
The next day we started off for home. Some of us got up early and got some great shots of the harbour in the mist.
We headed out to sea where we moored up on a sand bank. This sea couldn’t have been more different than the sea we had encountered on the way out. Flat and calm and perfect for a swim. One of our crew Lucy had her 18th birthday which we celebrated with cake.
The sea remained calm and flat and very little wind – such a contrast to our crossing. As we slowly sailed west the sun set. At night the most magical site as the sea became illuminated by a phosphorescent blue glow. This, I found ou,t was caused by the oxygenated water made as the boat passed through the water – this water made plankton in the water give out energy in the form of this ghostly blue light – amazing. No photos it just couldn’y be captured. Again I stayed on deck for a long time watching for shooting stars.
It was a perfect way to end a fabulous week.