Welcome to Delfzjil Festival, the land of sail! When most people come on board Nellie, they think she's a big ship, but being in Delfzjil harbour, moored up next to Tall Ships like 'Mir' and 'Sedov', who are easily twice 'Lord Nelson's' length at over 100m from bowsprit to stern platform (Nellie is only 52m), you realise why sailing tall ships evokes the awe that it does.
But, for all their grandeur and splendour, there's still something special about sitting on Nellie's foredeck, chatting with the people who you've been working alongside for a week and a half. With Ronan's guitar singing away in the background, it dawns on you that the people around you have become your family. Where else in the world would you find such a diverse group, who get on so well? 'Many places', I hear you say, but in my humble opinion, the environment aboard the Lord Nelson has to be one of the most memorable and lasting.
The morning saw a team of seven of us, including the Bosun (lovingly referred to as 'Bowski' by the female crew – and Tim), set off for the five-a-side football tournament. After scoring the first goal of the tournament, we were eventually overcome by the athleticism of the other ship and went down 3-1. We graciously bowed out of the tournament after the league stage and made our way back to the ship, having done ourselves (reasonably) proud, having only decided to enter the tournament at lunchtime the day before. Congratulations to 'Mir 1', the eventual victors of the cup, and the team that we may have, possibly, only maybe slightly, lost by the tiniest amount of 7-0 to.
In other news, the Lord Nelson was twice featured on Dutch local 'Radio Noord', first in an interview for 'At Sea Sail Training', the guys who made this trip possible, and second when the radio station issued a challenge to one of their presenters to get a ship's bell to ring on-air. Lord Nelson graciously agreed to send her bell off to the studio with her two cadets, who were shocked to find out that they were required to talk on-air too. The interview went ahead none-the-less, live to the nation.
Fireworks marked the end of the journey in spectacular fashion, lighting up the yard-ridden sky with light in a way you'd never see in any normal display, and a chorus of ship's horns saluting their magnificence for minutes after they'd finally ended. In a way, it was a fitting end to an amazing voyage – one of the very best that I've had the pleasure of being a part of – but like most of the rest of the crew, I felt it came much too soon.
A special thanks must go out to 'At Sea Sail Training' for their involvement in organising and funding this trip, making it accessible to all the amazing people who sailed this voyage, and especially Janine, who worked tirelessly to keep the atmosphere on the ship positive throughout, and the young minds stimulated.
Until next time,
(P.S. Trine was the only VC left 'Alive' in the murder game, despite my best efforts – so well done to her)