The Perse School

Perse Outdoor Pursuits venture to the Norfolk Broads

22 Apr 2014

On Saturday 5 April, 37 students set out for the Norfolk Broads for a week of sailing, motor cruising and canoeing. The Norfolk Broads trip is one of two ‘open’ Outdoor Pursuits trips. ‘Open’ trips are designed to bring together students across the year groups in a residential setting. Any student taking part in an Outdoor Pursuits Department affiliated club is eligible to take part. It is a great opportunity for vertical integration within the School and sees leadership, mentoring and coaching blossom between our youngest and oldest students.

The Year 9 and above students where dropped off first and Eastwood Whelpton boat yard to collect their sailing yachts; Typhoon and Tropical Wind. After a further coach journey the Year 7 to 9 students arrived at Herbert Woods boat yard to collect the fleets three motor cruisers; Shining Light, Folkestone Light and Bright Light. The school’s flotilla of six canoes were loaded on board alongside all students’ luggage, some secretive wide game materials and food for the first day. After settling down on board their craft, students piloted them to Womack Water where the fleet convened for the first time.

Life aboard a boat can be a challenging experience, especially for the uninitiated, and students would have to overcome little private space, shared living accommodation and constant movement on the water. Each crew was led by a staff ‘captain’ and a student ‘first mate’. This year the sailing crews were led by the sailing savvy Caroline and Tom Louth (both OP volunteers), the motor cruisers were piloted by Mrs Nesbitt, Mr Blanchard-Lewis and Mr Bradley (school staff) and the whole fleet was overseen by Mr ‘Admiral’ Parker. All were ably assisted by the first mates: Tom Claydon, Ellie Harrison, Emily Aldridge, Benjamin Durbin and Hector Thornton-Swan.

On arrival at our first port, the first mates had the responsibility of stocking their boats with ‘victuals’ for the duration of the trip. This is a more daunting task than it may at first sound considering that crews can comprise up to 11 students and two staff! Not only did students have to purchase all food and cook all meals, they also had to budget and receipt all purchases for the trip. All crews handled their responsibilities with unwavering confidence. Throughout the week crews would also have to take responsibility for the cleanliness of their craft, keep a captain’s log, defend their ship from attack and maintain morale. As part of the process of forming a crew identity, each boat had to produce their own flag and name. The end results were colourful and entertaining with ships’ names such as ‘The Reckless Wren’ , ‘The Kracken’ , ‘Shongalolo’ and ‘The Piratical Penguin.’ Crews quickly adopted their new identities and a little cheekiness ensued with the Reckless Wren crew producing a flag showing their mascot sitting atop a slight squished octopus that suspiciously looked like their adversaries ‘The Kracken.’ In the following days the Reckless Wren flag pole appeared to snap inexplicably…

Aside from the on-board antics students took part in dinghy sailing training, yachting, canoeing and land based games. When moored, students had the opportunity to visit ruined abbeys, windmill pumps and the beautiful Norfolk countryside. At the end of the week the crews had thoroughly bonded and were ready to compete for the name and reputation of their craft. This opportunity came only too soon in the form of famous ‘Buccaneer’ wide game which took place on the vast Barton Broad. Students had to decide whether or not they would be semi-civil privateers and trade, or adopt a more piratical approach to gather as much treasure as possible. Suffice to say our students opted for the latter and the newly designed water bomb cannons proved a huge hit.

At the end of the week, exhausted crews returned to harbour, boarded coaches and returned to Cambridge with many new memories.

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