Sea dogs from Isle of Dogs man Tall Ship for High Seas adventure

Young crew aboard the Tall Ship Stavros Niarchos before setting sail from Millwall Docks

Young crew aboard the Tall Ship Stavros Niarchos before setting sail from Millwall Docks - Credit: George Green's School

Youngsters from the Isle of Dogs turned ‘sea dog’ on the High Seas for an adventure in a Tall Ship—although the wind seemed to be in the wrong direction.

Pupils from George Green’s Secondary joined others from east London’s Langdon Park, Morpeth, Oakland’s and St Pauls Way schools on board the good ship Stavros S Niarchos.

The week-long voyage taught them to sail, navigate, climb the yards and haul ropes—as well doing the washing up in the galley.

Every student earned an RYA ‘Start Yachting’ certificate from the Tall Ships Youth Trust.

The ship, with its professional crew, set sail from West India Quay in the Millwall Docks, reaching Dartmouth on the South Coast on Day 4.

Day 1, Martin Atstopas and Jason Fox sent out a blog: “Meeting in the Mess with Captain and crew, training about safety, living on-board, helming (that’s steering) and seamanship—a bit like school!

“Fitted with safety harnesses for climbing in the rigging and waterproof trousers and jacket in case it rains.”

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Day 2, Mia-kitty Barbe-Wilson and Freya Samuel-Smith blog: “No sleepy-heads and lazybones spared the gruelling 6.30am wake-up call! Red eyes rubbed and tooth and hair brushes wrestled with, then drop into our seats for breakfast.

“A stirring sight to see the soupy Thames slop and splash around us (take seasick tablets, guys!) as we grind into action past the O2, through the Thames Barrier that lets us out grudgingly and under the QE2 Bridge.

“We have a taste of climbing the masts getting into open water, up and over the rigging, down the other side, mostly with our bare hands! A robust wind gives us a healthy appetite for lunch.

“Informative talk by Bosun Kim about ‘working aloft’ and of course safety guidelines. The brave among us climb the rigging and along the yards to get a taste of working aloft with the sails. A few stay down with wobbly legs.

“We anchor off the coast by Margate—nobody has to stay up till ‘stupid o’clock’ on watch. A picturesque sunset, youth mentor Mike provides entertainment, then a warm shower and ready for our sleeping bags, the sea-seasickness forgotten.”

Day 3, Louie Sacarello blogs: “Beautiful sunrise, reflecting off calm seas. We leave overnight anchorage, then ‘Happy Hour’ cleaning the ship before breakfast. Capt Dave tells us one of his jokes—but because we don’t laugh, he tells us two more!

“Heading south, turning west, through Dover Strait, see many ferries crossing between Dover and Calais. Wind against us, so we can’t sail, continue along South Coast under engines—our first real day at sea. A bit rough for some, feeling seasick and lining up with a sick bucket, a new ‘Green Mile’ with everyone in harness tied to the ship. No risk of ‘man overboard’ while vomiting.”

Day 4: “Stavros has been powering all night along the coast by engine, heading into the wind, so no sails today. Red Watch on duty on the Bridge, midnight till 4am, swapping lookouts, steering the ship and gazing at the stars, passing the Isle of Wight.

“White Watch groggily make way up to the Bridge at 4am to relieve Red Watch who are not so groggy. Spectacular sunrise, taking away feeling of swaying side to side.

“Called to the Mess for breakfast 7.20am—tomato, egg and sausage, just as we enter rougher waters!

“Play ‘Last Man Standing’ during Happy Hour (cleaning) before lunch, finding out who has strongest stomach and who can withhold the choppy water, then a race to get your harness on, clip yourself to the side and let your previous breakfast fly—a worthy excuse for getting out of cleaning!

“Arrive Dartmouth, met by a pilot boat helping us weave in and out of the rocks at the mouth of River Dart to moor safely. We are the biggest vessel in the dock, attracting locals and tourists.

“Leaving Stavros for the first time onto dry land, stocking up on sweets from Dartmouth’s one supermarket. We head to a park for a football kick-around and some ‘chill’ time, finally getting a good night’s sleep back on Stavros Niarchos.”