Winston Churchill 91
Sir Winston Churchill
Greenock, Isla, Cambeltown, Lamlash, Greenock
14th to 26th April 1991
Sail Training Association
Frances Drummond Moray
Sir Winston Churchill, James Watt Dock, Greenock
When we got to James Watt Dock I was so apprehensive and wanted to turn around and run. The first people I saw were the older crew with the bosun who looked so old I thought I might have the wrong ship! I half heartedly ate a jam sandwich and sipped nervously at orange juice.
Everyone chatted quietly on the sunny deck making polite stilted convo. Twenty one year old Swedish Anna is to look after me for the next two weeks as head of the red team mizzen watch. My bunk is by the noisy gents heads which may stink at various times. It is a general passageway of men and boys trooping in, turning on a flickering light followed shortly by the slurping of the vacuum in the head.
We were shown how to put up and take down sails with tack procedures, and given D of E and safety lectures.
It is ten thirty pm on board Sir Winston Churchill and I’m leaning on one of two benches in the half deck where we will eat, sleep and generally live. The red night light is extremely dim making it is hard to see and write. The bunks resemble chicken coups with half meter head room, three bunks per side. The atmosphere is more relaxed now with easier conversation.
Tried to sleep throughout the night after going to bed at twelve but head voyagers persisted like Paul curly above and someone from south Devon above him. At five twenty five am got up and dressed in ladies round the corner. On watch from six till seven am filling in the log by reading temperature and wind speed. Boring and cold but pretty beautiful clear sunrise. Woke everyone up but they were already awake, mumbling and sleepy. Had sugar puffs and tea but felt un hungry.
Our watch met at five past eight on the fore deck for the captain to tell us the plan is to set sail at midday. The camera crew arrived just before and we were all dressed in jeans and our blue smocks to climb the rigging in dock. We stayed up there for forty five minutes till we sailed being filmed by the ITV Grampian crew. They’re making a program to replace Highway called A Song for Dana.
On watch from four till six going down the Clyde. At six we had cauliflower, baked tatty, soggy peas, ice cream and banana for supper with the captain who said to me on watch
‘You must be at an all girl’s school for madams!’
‘Thanks’ I said and he has called me madam ever since.
We watched Dana’s mimed singing, and as she was having her make up done she waved her arms about or stood stonily, trying to be naturally carefree in a denim outfit. Cameras clicked on us all day and I took photos of Sir Winston from a speed boat.
Captain stood on the bridge shouting commands to all forty of us and made us repeat the same tacking exercises over and over. He went away leaving us to haul down every single sail, what hard work! Sun setting, v pretty but I rang the bell accidentally. The bosun said he didn’t like smart Alecs, but that the bell had been rung quite well considering it was first attempt, quite a compliment from him!
Only been here a day, but seems like a week as everyone knows each other quite well already, sorting out route cards and tonight we anchor off Arran.
On watch from two till three am with Theresa and annoying watch officer Jeremy Beadle whose eyes were popping out. He looked decidedly rough and wasn’t his usual big mouthed self, but a bit puny and weak. We took bearings of a green light, a red one and a street lamp. Woke Karl and Janet the D of E person and went back to sleep in my gorgeous bunk. Now I’m sleeping with my head to the other end sheltered from the red light, and don’t get the flickering light in my face.
After breakfast went up the mizzen, main and fore sails. The bosun yelled and then got four of us girls to prove to the boys that we really could heave three and a half tons of mizzen sail up. When the boys’ expectations were confirmed I went into the galley for a whole twenty four hours.
I hate the kitchen and can’t see how Bumble could have cooked in a boat kitchen. It smells and I felt sick and I washed up all day and dried, set, peeled, scrubbed, stood, it was absolutely knackering and I did it with Jan and Graham.
Graham is nicknamed Alice and he talked to Bob about motorbikes. More exciting discussion occurred through the day, or did it? By around seven o’clock after we had cooked, served and washed up I was knackered and cold.
breakfast x 2
smoko x 2
lunch x 2
smoko x 2
supper x 2
tea x 2
The wind began to howl and before long the entire boat was tossed about as we sailed round the exposed area from Mull O’ Kintyre to Isla in gale force nine. I was not v helpful, thought I might puke any moment and was advised to look at the horizon. We all felt a bit queazy and agreed when Jan announced that the first stage of burping had dawned.
Bob the bright spark said Ryvita dryness would mop up your stomach liquids and you wouldn’t puke. They all call it chanderin’, cockney accent chanderin’. We obediently ate biscuits as they were handed windward round the starboard deck. When Bob told me to bleach the work top I finally drew the line and it was eight o’clock.
I went out the galley feeling the only lonesome sea sicker but was delighted to find the entire passageway blocked with chanderers all saying ‘Scuse me, blooeugh! We strapped ourselves on to the edge and finally after two and a half hours I did in a bucket, talk about boking in a bucket. By this stage nearly everyone on board, even watch officers had except Captain Birds Eye himself. Went to bed in all my clothes, still frozen in the morning.
Got up at six, prepared plates for breakfast and finished washing and cleaning up at nine. Hugh the captain’s mate took us for another meeting and told us we weren’t going round Jura and that we needed to conserve energy for the D of E hike so I seem to get the best of both worlds.
We anchor three nautical miles off the south coast of Isla to go to a brewery instead. The plan was to go out in small motor boat loads and there were only ten of us left on board. The second last load was four other guys and I with Hugh, sorry the captain’s mate who steered.
Half way there the speedboat ran out of petrol, Oh dear, no whisky for us or PC’s good excuse for being unable to write them! This is what Hugh and I tell Paul in the red hat who had chundered beside me as he tried to row. He was so crap that I rowed and paddled though we chopped and changed while skinhead yob Karl said
‘Vis hole fing is schoopid’
Hugh attempted a sailing song and as we came nearer the film crew were filming every mistake. The Devon guy had put on his freezing cold trendy outfit and shades on a grey, blustery day with just a touch of grease behind each ear. Who was he trying to impress, the drunken sods of Isla?
Came back, had a hot shower, felt better, had a fruit short cake. Earlier on, the groups had been route planning so I wasn’t at the helm with Matt. I looked up to see a camera named CAT STEW in bright yellow paint, and supposed its Catherine Stewart’s.
Everyone else is at the brewery while I’m writing this at four pm. Bob, the young cook’s assistant is asleep, so the music in the galley has reverted from Guns ’n Roses to classical, radio four or something. Froggy the cook reminds me of Billy Connolly in this beer T shirt, beer belly, beard, du poivre et sel. Him and the engineer don’t get on so they make snide comments at every passing opportune.
At tea time the film crew are an oldish man with a beard who snores incessantly at night and the other a mad juvenile who pings his knife against the table for the fun of it all. He is quite funny and tells us about the times when he
a) Set a shipyard into flames by making a bonfire aged eight.
b) How he was thrown out of the Scouts for blowing up three grenades, one of which blew up underneath the Scout caravan sending the masters bed through the roof
I was on watch at half six am feeling dizzy sick. Gales are forecast force seven. At seven I help bring in the anchor by the chain that is so disgusting from all sewage eugh at the bottom of the sea! Each chain is about the size of this A5 paper so it is thirsty work first thing in the morning and I do it with Catherine and John. When we came up on deck, Matt sprays us down with a hose in front of the inevitable film crew filming yet again and we then hoisted up the jibs and topsails.
Two, Six, Heave!
At breakfast everyone jokes that on the heave you should throw up. Us mizzen watch are knackered so we collapse until lunch time on our bunks but are on stand by. After a revolting lunch I’m on watch with number nine Matthew on starboard lookout. It’s freezing and I end up being there two hours and so I put my hands in the hot air things from the kitchen and jump up and down and sing songs into the wind and receive weird looks from the captain and main officer.
Arrive at Cambeltown and everyone begins to feel a whole lot better. They change and after supper we all go to a pub called Jackson’s where we seem to drive the locals out pretty smartly. We chat around tables and then suddenly the TV is drowned out by Jason in the discotheque, wahey! We all go for a boogie under the ultra violet and dazzling coloured lights, what a night life!
A pissed middle aged woman tries to talk to a number of us, and on her departure she pours a pint of lager over Catherine’s and my head and walks out the lounge and keels over smashing her glass. She had a black eye, poor sod and we returned to the ship at eleven thirty p.m.
On watch from one till two a.m with Matt. Woke up a bit late and went to the galley to find Mr Thomas the watch officer nicknamed Jeremy Beadle and rightly so, drunk with Bob and Froggy the chef.
We saw some yobs hanging around but they didn’t do anything much. Next morning some clay I suppose having woken the snoring camera man with the beard and asked him kindly if he would oblige to turn over. I heard the preceding watch failed to spot a drunken yob go up mast top to bawl his head off with some crappy song.
Most people had sore heads due to heavy drinking, and that implies a couple of pints which apparently made them legless which is of course bollox as I was there.
I was mess man today to set up and clear away the meals. Breakfast was cereal, fried bread, tomato and bacon and for Happy hour our watch was on half deck. We had shore leave for an hour so went to look round Cambeltown which was much better on a nice sunny day and there is a v good book shop in the high street.
We had another meeting to be told we were leaving at twelve. During lunch we sailed back thro’ Cambeltown loch’s made of whisky! Graham said when he goes to get his certificate from the Duke of Edinburgh he will butt him.
‘What did yew ‘av ter pod oz threw that faw eh mister?’ It would go down in history as the first head butter of a royal family member.
Acted as messenger and scribe straight after lunch, then eased out twenty inches of gib sheet on the storm Tri sail. I helped Anna, George the bosun and Julie his mate chip paint with goggles on.
On port lookout at three p.m and took bearings on a crossing ferry. We sailed between Arran and the Mull O’ Kintyre as I helped pull the halliard for the peak of the main sail. We did spaghetti runs tidying up ropes and stowing them ready for use. Then did the highland fling, swung on ropes and skipped about to keep warm, then filled in the log and ordered fifteen postcards.
Manish seems to have stopped chanderin’ after two days of head blocking and Karl seems to still continue to be a course blunt cockney.
‘Ar did siy plyse!’
Bob and Matt had a wee brawl, all hands on deck. Eventually we were working putting up and taking down sails from four till ten p.m, and I was on watch from nine till ten.
I spotted a flashing light on shore, told Hugh and realised it must be the captain who’d been to a meeting on Lamlash and he went out to collect him with Julia, Bob and Fiss. Earlier that afternoon I had to go up to crow’s nest to fold the sail down and it was windy, wobbly and freezing as people did clangers in front of George the bosun.
Got up at six thirty and after breakfast the rubber duck and the other boat started taking people to Lamlash to start their settling in day. Sod Off the juvenile camera man took a group photo of us leaving on the fore deck.
I was one of the last to go with Mr Thomas Jeremy Beadle, Janet the planet, Richard, John, Karl, Manish, Theresa, and Catherine. We had to wade to shore as the tide was out. An early morning swim would be the best way to describe it! After a nose round a natty sailing shop we set off in the van with Outdoor Pursuits plastered on the side. We went for a short walk about eight miles round a c shape from Lamlash.
Jo couldn’t walk that day as she had a sty in her eye and had to go to the doctor. Sue took over from Janet planet and we met her half way up Glen Rosa. She drove us the last mile back to the information centre where people could get leaflets for projects.
The ferry came into Lamlash and we saw Sod Off and his snoring friend going up the gangway so we hollered SOD OFF! and everyone except Sod off looked round embarrassed not understanding us bunch of youths.
We went to a cafe to wait for the minibus to return from the pier. When we got back we had a debate if it was a ship or a boat and then everyone packed for their real expedition. There was mad scramble for food. I watched while pack horse Graham with the union jack wooly hat, Richy and Catherine slaved.
Ali suddenly announced that Theresa was v close to quitting from D of E worried that her group wouldn’t wait for her. They assured her the obvious and tried to persuade her to go but she decided not to.
Then Vivian who bumped her head and fainted the day before said she might not continue with D of E and was taken to the doctor. Jo had already decided she was going to go even though her beauteous eye was sore.
Day of rest got up at five thirty a.m, had breakfast, everyone bleary eyed and reluctant to go as it was raining. Said bye to everyone as they went off in their small convoys and at eight am went and cleaned the heads and swept the half deck.
George was stripping paint with a bloody deafening drill while I sorted tins in the locker under the stairs with Bob. Then Theresa, Tony and I sorted out the harnesses. Julia came and we painted rectangles while they hung the harnesses up to dry and next we sorted out the wellies.
We were summoned up to the chart room to toast the Queen’s birthday and the Union Jack was flying. Must say I never did that before! Sat next to Julia and Theresa talking about homeopathic medicine. Cycling is good for arthritis apparently.
Hugh blabbered and took everyone’s pulses and the captain told a rude joke. No-one laughed as it wasn’t worth smiling at and Sarah handed out G and Ts. After a while we plebs went to the mess room for lunch, leaving superiors in the chart room.
Bob, Tony, Anna, Theresa, Julia and I had mushroom soup and quiche, chatting about cycling and the Project Trust and the captain washed up, wuss! After lunch most people kipped, what a welcome break! Theresa got up and left to take the place of Viv who had to drop out. Got out of bed for tea, curry and chocolate pudding. We’ve been in Lamlash bay since Friday evening.
Every time I get off the boat and sit down on solid land it still moves and sways as though drunk, with such a weird feeling. Had a shower though its the first time I’ve mentioned it.
Dan and Andy come back from overseeing the D of E on Arran and soon after, six people entered the half deck. The entire group had to drop out because it took them twelve hours to walk nine easy miles on the wrong hillside.
Graham, Manish, Paula, Paul and John were all quite chuffed to be back! After happy hour everyone decided to go to Brodick for the afternoon to find out info for a cycling expedition the following day.
We landed on the beach and Hugh gave me a piggy back leaving John and Paul had to wade ashore but John ended up sitting in the water, soaking himself with his camera. Julia the Bosun’s mate, watch leader and Project Trust Worker came but we couldn’t be arsed to walk to Brodick, a whole five miles away so I stupidly went in front of a small red empty minibus and managed to get all of us a lift.
We went to the Beehive centre in Brodick where I posted fifteen post cards and piddled around with Paula, Dan and Julia. Played mini golf, and got the bus back at four thirty. John lost his camera and nearly got run over by the bus getting out of it, what a day!
Julia, Fred the bus driver and Hugh were all on the pier in a human chain transferring rubbish ashore. That night I went with Viv and Bob to the pub that was v boring in Lamlash.
Andy and Dan went on a bike ride and Graham joined the mizzen walking group as Manish and Richy wanted to stop. The rest of the boys went on a one day hike to see some standing stones.
Paula, Viv and I were left to help with general cleaning of the ship i.e. sorted out a laserette leaving Hugh and I to do the dust bins. Scary Paula and I greased copper grease everywhere.
Viv, Paula and I hit Lamlash in the afternoon and sent post cards but were stuck there from one till three pm. When we returned we were amazed to see Beadle stuck in his boat. He had stayed in the rain in his boat for two hours without getting out to push himself off the rocks! Since we left the pier and offered assistance at one p.m he had told us to go away, stupid weird! Had a shower, read The Last Tycoon by F Scott Fitzgerald. Don and Andy came back, chatted, bed, others return.
Hugh went off to some funeral, Anna left at seven thirty a.m for Sweden on the ferry and Julia is now watch leader, slave driver! Cleaned and scrubbed all morning for bosun’s mate. Froggy gave me death stares for going through the galley. A sixty foot sail boat with trainees sailed by and we and took photos.
Southerly winds made it dangerous to stay in the bay so we hoisted up the square top sails and went at ten knots round to Brodick bay. On arrival I climbed to the upper yard to fold the sail away. Ah shit, it was v windy, freezing cold and the whole mast swayed!
D of E people started to come back. They’d had a good but tiring time and noise returned once more to HMS SWC. On watch from four till five, supper at six thirty when we set sail. I feel bloated after supper and we are rocking. Scrabble after supper till we get to some sands and anchor at ten thirty p.m.
On watch from two till three am with John, read a newspaper and woke Matt three times before he manages to stumble out of bed. Go back to bed but can’t really sleep, set sail at six thirty a.m. At some point along the Clyde a pilot comes on board, we all go up aloft and sail into Greenock James Watt dock singing
If yer ‘appy and yer know it clap your hands!
Photo sessions galore we go onto the pier and some Glaswegian guy gets us to pose doing Scottish twirls.
Get post card from Dad, and letters from Anna and mum at ten thirty. I’m mess man again today and we waited around in the sun for the stores to come but they had broken down six miles away so we had a supa happy hour. I was on the heads and only washed the floor so Catherine had to come and help me clean everything. Straight afterwards the captain rounded up as if we didn’t know what we had been doing for the past two weeks! We were shown where we had travelled and the mileage covered.
Mizzen came third in the Tug O’ War, that was mighty competitive and I just laughed. When the stores came we lugged them v strenuously below half deck with a human chain system as the next voyage would leave the following day. After that, we had to go onto the quay and pretend to prance Scottish reels. In the end the lads went on one knee with us gels behind and in front with Julia and Paul jigging!
That evening we were taken to the RWSYC Royal West of Scotland Yacht Club by bus. Sweet five year old girls did the Highland Fling, we boisterously hollered and Ali and Jan pranced around. Matt got totally pissed and was sick and v nearly unconscious.
Hugh made me get up to do the Gay Gordans. I kept crashing and blame it on the cider that Mr Thomas bought everyone without batting an eye lid. Mizzen watch won the contest by singing Thunderation, wot a larf. The captain started flaunting his flab throughout the room, how unattractive, he was well pissed.
Julia and Hugh were the only sober, serious Scots dancers and Sod Off showed some majorly cool photos he snapped. After Auld Lang Syne we went back to the bus and sang
‘The captain is a silly git’, as he laughed back saying ‘We’d better get there soon or else I’ll have to get off to puke’. Mmmm, went to sleep at twelve.
Got up, cleaned heads, scrubbed the rubber duck with meth spirits, signed off, said bye to the permanent crew, got everyone to sign my picture of SWC. Waited with Catherine after everyone else went off in the minibus to the station. Met her parents briefly then dad collected me, v. sad!
Watch the bloody paint work, ‘specially on that corner!
Get in there you little nipper, twat, bastard, maggot
My beds in ‘eavenMUSIC SHEET
This is Sail Train
When we work with
Everywhere we go
People want to know
Who we are
Where we come from
We simply tell them
The Winston Churchill
The Sir Winston Churchill
If they can’t hear us
We shout a little louder
Hugh Captain’s Mate wears pilot shirt from Dundee, witty smiley sarcastic fun.
Mr Thomas, Mizzen Officer, Julia, Froggy, Bob
1. Paul perm hair shell shit smell, oh shit man fuckin’ ell, otherwise silent, always tipping me out of bed by the locker, cockney.
3. Karl skinny, dry sense of humour witty chatter box but eats like a horse, lives Sussex v cockney. Bashed knees on roof, v. fast walker.
4. Theresa Welsh and looks like Marilyn, small nice but cagey sarcastic and funny 19 Elaine
5. John, hey man private school wears cold trendy clothes over deep trying to be voice BB Boots need say no more! Nice when not being too private school type. Oh shit man, sorry more awkward with girls as he goes to all boy school. Tries cockney accent but fails.
6. Richard, funny half Scott lives Manchester
7. Catherine, Manchester v funny easy going, lives by Guide hand book! Strong accent though denies go school in Bolton. Got every natty gadget organised and sponsored on lots of courses.
8. Janet the planet, typical middle age D of E woman, fake smile from Gloucester. ‘How’s it going’ annoying, bugging, I’m sure I’ve met her before somewhere!
9. Matthew, looks like Cosmo with hat on. Just as silly as me, maybe worse, if poss, nice and funny quite English.
10. Graham nicknamed Alice, a big American football player build of pack horse! Brookside v. amusing, open, cheery, witty motorbike, a real British footy supporter with Union Jack hat, funny story teller, bit of an oaf.TERMS