“I first sailed with the Rona Sailing Project (RSP) when I was 16 years old as a crew member on Donald Searle. After that trip I received an Amory Award and I was invited to sail on a Tall Ships Race in Spain. It was such an amazing experience as I had barely ever left the UK before and got to spend a few weeks with fantastic people, working hard, and going to beautiful places. Then I was promoted to Watch Leader, where I learnt leadership, and teamwork skills, and also personally grew in confidence. During my time as a Watch Leader I got to sail to lots of amazing places, including; France, Spain, The Netherlands, and Boston during Rendezvous 2017. This year I was promoted to Watch Officer and will be sailing for the first time in my new position this summer. I am really looking forward to it!
Being part of the RSP has helped me in many parts of my life, including in my current job. For the past two months I have been sailing as a scientist on board RRS James Clark Ross in the Southern Ocean. We started from Punta Arenas in Chile, stopped off at Stanley in the Falkland Islands to collect equipment then we crossed Drake Passage which was pretty rough. Most of our scientific work involves collecting water samples using a CTD, and then analysing the water, and the data that comes from that. A CTD is basically big metal frame with water bottles and sensors attached which is lowered into the water to collect samples. I specifically help with setting up and running the CTD. I also helped analyse the salinity of water samples and processed some of the data. During our trip we saw lots of amazing animals, like penguins and whales, and also got to go into some sea ice.
Volunteering with the Rona Sailing Project has taught me many life skills like how to use a tin opener properly, and how to make the perfect roast dinner whilst the galley is at a steep incline. However, it has also taught me (arguably less important) skills like confidence, teamwork, and resilience. I think after being on yachts like Rona and Donald previously to my scientific work at sea I knew what I was getting myself in for and had some idea of what to expect. Of course, it was nothing like what I thought it be, but volunteering with the Rona Sailing Project has taught me how to react to difficulties and changes quickly and efficiently. One of the most important aspects of the Rona Sailing Project, is the emphasis on teamwork as the boat wouldn’t sail without everyone working together. I found that being able to work in a team even in tough conditions, like having very little sleep and working with lots of new, different people, helped a lot whilst I was working at sea and I think I wouldn’t have been able to do that as well without Rona Sailing Project.