The deployment began shrouded in secrecy with the Coxswain refusing to tell us where we were crewing up and even changing the meeting location but eventually we all gathered at the unit and drove to the ship in Largs - it was really that simple.
Eventually all students were on board and of course we got stuck into some chart work… or at least planning ahead for our deployment. Naturally we were excited as the long-cast included a festival, boat show and the TT race on the Isle of Man. However this was weather and CO dependent... in the end we did none of these things. This was the CO’s first deployment with students on board Pursuer. Lt Parson was unsure what to expect, but naturally we broke him in, or maybe just broke him.
Despite some rather high sea state numbers we did manage a fair amount of time at sea. Our first transit was from Largs to Troon, this took roughly 4 hrs - we could have driven it in 1. Following this we crossed the sea to Portrush, had a good night out and then sailed on to Bangor (Northern Ireland not Wales).
We made the most of our time there, turned into proper tourists and checked out the giants causeway and tested the well held belief that Portrush is a good night out. I can confirm it is indeed.
Next we planned to stop by the Isle of Man before heading down to Wales. Unfortunately, we weren’t welcome in Douglas and given the size of the waves and the size of Pursuer we didn’t think we’d make it to Wales so instead we headed for the safe port of Liverpool. There were no complaints as we all had fond memories of Liverpool.
The transit across was a different story; there were many complaints. Our Navs, OCdt (now Mid) Kieran Smith, had honourably pulled an all-nighter to get the chart work done but given the conditions it was a bit of a waste as not even Lt Botfield could get a fix on. As a nurse OCdt Kirstie Jones decided to give us multiple demonstrations of the effects of sea sickness and being SMID I gave an excellent demonstration on how to vomit over the side of the ship.
Once in Liverpool it was clear this was our last port. As the youngest it was Kieran Smith’s job to plan our end of phase meal and get a speech together. His speech wasn’t half bad and from what we can remember it was a good night. Apparently there is a Popworld in Liverpool.
After a couple of days alongside we and ships company agreed we had all done more than enough PLTs and spent far too much money so we could head home early. This of course didn’t stop our TO from maximising training time with debriefs conducted on the train home.
Maybe it was because we weren’t on board long enough to go stir crazy but this phase was definitely one of the most enjoyable I’ve had, although it was really just a warm up for phase 2…
Mid Richard Cornforth