Tall Ships Report for Sea-Hear Discover by Isobel Johnson

This wasn't my first time sailing and it won't be the last.

Earlier this summer I was given an fantastic opportunity to take part in the Tall Ships Race 2013 on an ex-round-the-world clipper "Thermopylae" With a crew of 12 (5 adults and 7 young people). We sailed from Riga, Latvia to Szczecin, Poland. 

The first day and the last day were memorable with two contrasting emotions; I was nervous and a little petrified of the expedition, questions buzzing around my head "What will it be like?" "What will the crew be like?" "Will they like me”? By evening the questions were rendered useless, because almost everybody was thinking the same questions!

Over the course of the trip I needn't have worried, the adrenaline kicked in (with the help of regular cups of white tea), I'd made some firm friends and by day three we already had a bed rota because we both wanted the bottom bunk after realising that the top bunk, plus the motion of the waves, meant there was a high chance of falling out. Neither of us wanted to test that theory just yet.

One thing I was really excited about was the constant sailing and not harbouring in ports. We had rations of tinned food and packets. We really had to conserve our water supply because once the tank is empty, it's empty. Gone. No backup plan. This in itself was hard because we needed the water for cooking, for the toilets and for drinking.  We also had to change our body clocks, and had to follow a rota, where we were spilt up into two watches.

One watch would be up on deck for four hours, while the other watch would sleep or prepare a meal if needed, then we would swap. The old watch would clean and tidy away the meal and go to bed and the new watch would be on deck for four hours (and repeat). It may sound complicated, but in reality it was simple and absolutely essential, because teamwork is vital for the effectiveness of the voyage we were told. 

Talking about teamwork, there was a day when we had a massive swell and waves were crashing onto the deck, it was my turn to be on watch, however because I am a cochlear implant user and wear a hearing aid, to go on deck would be very risky and I could easily damage my aids because they are not resistant to water despite waterproofs. If they were damaged I would not be able to hear and would have to get new one. I didn't want to take the risk but I didn't want to be of no use to the crew, so I decided to stay in the gallery and made myself useful. I ended up making dinner for the crew (with some help of course) which was quite fun because cooking is entirely different when you are strapped to a stove that is moving with the waves! I think I learnt a life lesson that day, "If you can't do one thing, do a million other different things, don't let your impairment hold you down" 

I think the Tall Ships Race is probably one of the best thing I have ever done, I remember arriving in Szczecin and thinking "this has been so worth it".  It’s such a great feeling to go out and actually accomplish what you set out to do. I felt proud of my self and the Thermopylae crew.  To be frank, we were a pretty awesome crew. 

The Tall Ships Race is one of my happiest memory I hold, I felt part of the team which I've never really felt before, it gave me the confident to take on the world and I'm ready for anything now. 

I can only wish other people will get the courage to Sail, because a majority of deaf children and adults think that "Oh because I'm deaf I can't do that" " It will be too hard" "Why should I? What can I do?" Sad, but true. 

When really, just because you're deaf doesn't mean you can't do it, in fact all the more reason you should do it; to show the world you CAN DO IT. And of course it will be hard, nothing is ever going to be easy, but it will be worth it. Truly.

And finally, "why should I?"  Because you can!

Sea Hear Discover