Thank you from ORCEL

Leg 5 / Day 6 (Friday 29 June)

This morning we completed a thorough top-to-toe cleaning of Duet before saying goodbye to our wonderful Skipper and Mate, Francis and Gavin.

Gavin has been amicable and easygoing, and kept his cool under pressure.  He gave clear instructions and was always ready with extra information.  Problems were met with a smile.  He is dedicated to Cirdan Trust and Duet, and is a shining example to all in sail training.

Our skipper Francis has been calm and kind throughout the week.  He manages to be entertaining, inspiring and instructive, a rare combination, and he is a true professional.

We are indebted to them both.

A special mention also for Duet’s marvellous rainproof jackets and trousers, which were indispensable this week as it rained nearly every day.  Without them we would have been washed, rinsed and blown to smithereens.

The accommodation on Duet is cramped and we sometimes felt like sardines.  You have to keep your elbows tucked in while moving about.  There are no portholes or windows below deck.  But when you’re up on deck it feels spacious and comfortable with endless vistas of sea and sky, and new horizons.

Thank you from our Orcel Sea Training group to all at Cirdan Trust for this unique opportunity and for an unforgettable trip.


ORCEL bids farewell to Duet

Leg 5 / Day 5 & 6

Duet sails in the misty Scottish IslesLast night we anchored in Loch Fyne, over the water from Tarbet.  The sea was flat calm.  It was a beautiful secluded spot near a stony beach surrounded by natural forest with one large old house peeping through the trees.  It was called ArdmarnockBay, also known as Spooky Haunted Bay.

After tea, Gavin and Francis arranged for us to be ferried to the nearby beach for a treasure hunt.  Our mission was to find the most interesting natural object,  man-made object, a holy stone and the tastiest seaweed.  We travelled in style in Duet’s tender and we didn’t even have to row as we were treated to the use of the outboard motor.

Only after being dropped off did we realise that we’d forgotten to ask when we were being picked back-up. The Port watch found a live crab which they named after our favourite Mate.

Today we upped anchor and travelled down Loch Fyne by sail initially.  The forecast had promised Force 6 wind but this didn’t materialise so we also had the engine on for part of the way.

We passed islands such as Bute and Arran.  We saw Ailsa Craig (aka Paddy’s Milestone) in the distance.  The mists descended and there was more and more rain.  As we turned up the Clyde the rain got heavier until we could no longer see land.  The sea was hopping with raindrops.

We had a wonderful welcome on arrival at the Victoria Dock in Greenock.  The Ocean Youth Club and Jubilee Sailing Trust were there to meet us along with two kilted gentlemen including a bagpiper whose rousing rendition of popular Scottish melodies raised several cheers and toots from passers-by.

We just had time to change into our new Duet ‘Voyage to Success’ T-shirts then we went over the road to a fabulous reception hosted by the Ocean Youth Club.  There were some heartfelt speeches, followed by a wonderful spread of a buffet including the best home-made meringues ever tasted.  We were greeted very warmly and were truly touched by the interest and good wishes of everyone we spoke to.   It was a memorable conclusion to our sailing voyage.

To round off a very special evening, we were treated to showers in the nearby Waterfront leisure centre, courtesy of a special arrangement by Ocean Youth Club.

It was noticeable when on dry land that the ground seemed to be moving – as if we were still at sea.  Starting to feel like true sailors.

We were rocked to sleep by the gentle waves in the dock.  One last night to enjoy the motion of the sea before losing our sea legs and becoming landlubbers once more.

Saskia writes . . .We left Armarnock Bay where we spent the night to continue our journey towards Greenock. We had 30 miles to go in only a short time so it was all hands on deck to get to our desintation.

The weather was mostly cloudy as we motored at a constant speed, going at no more than 4-6 knots. The boat continued to angle sideways, sloping and leaning towards the water. It was very unpleasent when trying to cook a meal. As much as I love this cossy little boat and sailing in general I am very much looking forward to going back to small home comforts. Being on a small yacht out at sea you really learn to appreciate how lucky we are and how much we have.

Thank you Gavin and Francis for teaching us how to sail and being excellent mentors when times got tough. Thank you to Kayleigh, Heather and Shelley for working hard as a team. And thank you to Sophie and Hilda for being such brilliant team leaders. This truly has been an experience of a lifetime and a voyage to success! Great work everyone!

Heather . . . Today we sailed the rest of the way to Greenock. It was fun but it was hard work pulling the anchor up. It felt like I had done adout 100 meters when Shelly came to help.

As we have a lot to do tomorrow like clean the whole boat and pack our stuff. I relly don’t want to go. I quite like being in a small boat. It’s just a bit like a caravan but a tad bit smaller. I still want to go home though. I miss my dog and the microwave and being able to go to the shop when you wan,t plus all the simple pleasures like my bed.

The welcome we got was amazing as there was a bagpipe playing for us. One of the best thing about it was that we got Dominos pizzas. They tasted lush. Everyone was asking questions about how the voyage went.

We went to a leisure center and were treated to very luxurious showers and to be honest we were lucky to get three showers this week and those were the best. They had a TV and every thing. I didn’t want to leave the luxury behind. We have had some free time and me and Sas bought a book to read. Hope they are good.

I would like to thank Christopher Courtauld who owns the boat for letting us use it as she is a beautiful boat. We have looked after her.

Thank you also to Curly and Barbara for being our Champions for the week.

Duet sailing on the west coast of Scotland


Gaelic honours for Duet and her crew

Leg 5 / Day 6

The crew fronm ORCEL , Hartlepool piped ashore at GreenockThe crew from ORCEL in Hartlepool were piped ashore in grand style on Thursday as Duet arrived in Greenock to be greeted by supporters of sail training in Scotland. This was one of the big moments for Duet as she celebrates her 100th birthday and more than 52 years in the service of young people from all backgrounds.

Visitors, many of whom remember Duet from their own youth, were able to go aboard Duet to find that little has changed aboard in all those years.

The Champion for Leg 5 Curly Mills with his wife Barbara presented certificates of achievement to the young people.

Thanks are due to Curly and Barbara, OYC Scotland and Emma Ellis who organised the event on behalf of The Cirdan Trust.



Dolphins, seals, crabs and a frog named Gilbert

Leg 5 / Day 4 & 5 (Tuesday 26th & Wednesday 27th June)

Caledonian Canal – Lynn of Lorne – Oban – Crinan Canal – Ardmarnoch Bay

Saskia . .It was hard beginning this morning setting up the sails and allowing the wind to guide us forwardWe sailed south past the Lynn of Lorne passing scenery so devastatingly beautiful.. So enigmatic it was hard to look away!

The weather brightened up around noon and we all enjoyed a much deserved lunch of lasagne and chips.

Levels of excitement reached a crescendo when we witnessed a pod of dolphins swimming by the boat. It was magical. Watching the animals leaping out of the water was truly a sight to behold.

.It was a mad start to the day when leaving Oban. Trying to haul up the 60m anchor chain before breakfast was not easy. Fitness has definitely improved.

I have now decided how I feel about sailing. It is literally methadone . . .all consuming. No greater feeling in the world than when the boat is cutting through the  icy water.. . .smooth . . . free.

Hilda . . .It’s just a few days after midsummer and we are way up north and west so it gets dark really late. At midnight you could almost read a newspaper. Then it is light again by 3am.

On Saturday and Sunday it rained often but the sun came out on Monday and we had two glorious days of sunshine with just enough wind to sail but not so much that the sea was rough.

After sailing south from our anchorage we sailed past the Isle of Seil – we didn’t see any seals except for a brief glimpse of a seals head checking us out. But we did sea the ‘bridge over the Atlantic’ which connects the Isle of Seil to the mainland over a narrow stretch of sea at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

For nearly an hour we were accompanied by about twenty dolphins which swam by the boat. One of them rolled over and stared at us from underwater with it’s beady eye.

We continued south past the Gulf of Corriwreckan and the famous whirlpool north of Jura where the Atlantic is squeezed through a narrow underwater chasm.

We could see a strange stillness on the sea’s surface which could lure underwater sailors but we kept at a safe distance

Saskia . . .Get up. Eat. Pass through a lock. Rest. Pass through a lock. It rains. Pass through a lock. Navigate. Pass through a lock. This was the perpetual motion of the morning. It was exhausting work manually move the 15 lock gates going along the Crinan Canal. However when we got out into the open sea things got better. We passed endless islands and uninhabited coastline. In my peripheral vision I could see the horizon stretching for miles around, mist shrouding much of the land. We docked up near Loch Fyne and lowered the anchor for the night. As a special treat we wre allowed to go ashore in a small dinghy to explore and have a treasure hunt.

Shelly . . . Today was a hard day as we had to pull the boat through  the locks as it weighs 27 tonnes. We also had a fun day as we saw loads of dolphins.

Kayleigh . . .Today we have seen amazing mammals in the Lynn of Lorne. We saw dolphins and the head of a seal. And we went past a whirlpool near the Atlantic Ocean.

Hilda . . . Gavin has been busy throughout the day making repairs to the boat. He never asks for thanks but whenever he disappears you can find him beavering away somewhere onboard, for example tying elaborate knots to fix the guardrails around the deck.

Francis showed us how to draw our position on the chart by putting a cross on the latitude and longitude reading. This apparently would be useful in case we got lost.

The Crinan Canal is completely different from the Caledonian Canal. It is much narrower but fortunately we didn’t meet any oncoming vessels. There wasn’t much room to pass. It’s much shorter but their are lots of locks – and unlike the Caledonian Canal where the lock gates are machine operated, these are manual – you have to push them open. It’s very slow.

The lock keepers have been friendly. Almost all like to chat and passing tourists enjoy watching the boats going in and out of the locks. We talked to many international visitors doing our bit for international exchange. We went through the Caledocian Canal together with a big Swedish yacht in tandem, motoring across the locks and lochs.

Although the Crinan Canal is only 12 miles long it seemed to last a long time. It felt like being trapped in Groundhog Day. That we’d never get out of the canal.

Heather . . .The trip up to now has been amazing. We saw dolphins and they came right up to the boat. We also found a frog and called it Gilbert. We went through lots of locks that we had to push open ourselves. It was hard work and a really back breaking task.

We anchored up at Ardmarnock Bay and pumped up the dinghy and went ashore. We had to find four things. It was hard to find them as we left it to the last minutes when the boat was coming back to get us.. We made a fire but it didn’t work for long.

When I was tying the fenders to the side of the boat, my glasses fell off into the water and they sunk.

On the island we found a crab and called it Gavin.


Incredible scenery and wildlife

Duet has crossed Scotland from East to West via the Caledonian and the Crinan Canals

Leg 5 / Day 4 & 5

Sophie writes . . .The last couple of days have been incredable. The scenary and the wildlife have amazed me. The pod of dolphins was so beautiful and I am so happy I have the videos so I can keep watching them. It is certainly a memory I won’t forget.

The sailing was good. A bit wet and cold and going through the locks was hard work but fun as we had to open and close them.

Duet locks through the Crinan Canal

Duet transits the Crinan Canal

Dolphins escort Duet in the Lynn of Lorne

Dolphins escort Duet in the Lynn of Lorne



Curly Champions Leg 5

Portrait of Curly MillsThe Champion for Leg 5 is Curly Mills. Curly’s extraordinary story is an inspiration. From  humble beginnings Curly built a major heating and ventilation business which he sold leaving sufficient funds for him to become a philanthropist.

As an energetic supporter of the sail training movement, Curly and his wife Barbara have been enthusiastic supporters of sail training in Scotland.

He will be welcoming the young people from ORCEL in Hartlepool Greenock near Glasgow on looking forward to sailing aboard Duet on 28th June.

Speaking with his wife Curly said  “Nearly forty years ago, our eldest daughter sailed with the Ocean Youth Club (as it was then) through the same waters as you have done and emerged at the end of the trip a much more confident person when she stepped ashore.  We are sure that you too feel a sense of achievement in the teamwork needed to sail this beautiful and historic boat. Well done for bringing Duet safely to Greenock, the home of the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland. We are sure that you will all remember this trip for many years to come.”


ORCEL Girls join the Voyage to Success 2012

Leg 5 / Day 1 & 2

Duet locking through Caledonian CanalSophie . . .Although we had train delays on the way up toInverness, we caught up with ‘Duet in Loch Ness. It’s beautiful in the Caledonian Canaland I’m really impressed with every one and their relaxed attitude and hard work, they make me proud!

Shelley . . .Even though we had trouble on the way up, we have caught up with where we are meant to be. The boat is beautiful and everyone has worked hard so far! Enjoy your trip.

Saskia . . .It was a wet start to the first day but the weather didn’t affect everyone’s good spirits. Although getting up at 4.00am was tough, the journey through Loch Ness was great. The scenery is so dramatic and beautiful here it’s easy to see why people love sailing through Scotland. Overall, a good start to the trip and we all hope the fun will continue.

Kayleigh . . .It is amazing scenery in the Loch Ness here in Scotland. We had a rough journey to Inverness with the trains but when we got here we didn’t start sailing straight away, so it gave us time to settle in. I hope you have a good trip on this ‘Duet and look after her because she is special. Good luck.

Heather . . .I have really enjoyed my first day sailing on Duet, I was the first one to steer the boat and it was easier than I thought. The galley (FYI the kitchen) is small but we managed to make food. I went on the front net of the boat which was scary at first but it was fun seeing the sites around us. I have hit my head a few times when moving around the boat but I’ve got used to it as well as the swaying of the boat but I know I will enjoy the rest of my trip.

Illustration of the Loch Ness Monster