Over the weekend, a group of intrepid officer cadets from Warsash Maritime Academy (WMA), which is part of Southampton Solent University, braved rain, hail and gusts of 40 knots to raise much needed funds for sailing respite charity, Sail 4 Cancer.
On Friday 21 March, the 38 cadets experienced first- hand what it would be like to be cast adrift with their ship sinking behind them, when they spent 24 hours in five life rafts which were secured to two buoys in the River Hamble.
Despite fierce winds, driving rain and low temperatures, all of the cadet officers made it through the night, with one even managing to sleep through from midnight to 6am. A delivery of bacon butties, hot tea and chocolate helped to warm them up, lift their spirits and complete the challenge.
Speaking after their eventful 24 hours, Georgia Atkins, a deck officer cadet said, “It was probably the best and the worst 24 hours of my life, but I can say that even with force 8 winds, heavy rain and hail I would happily do this again!”
David Baker, cadet liaison officer of WMA was very proud of their achievement and commented, “The difficult weather conditions made the challenge a lot harder than first expected. The stormy conditions really tested their resolve, but they pulled each other through. It was great to see the camaraderie that grew out of the experience.”
As well as being a valuable exercise for merchant navy officers of the future to experience, their efforts have so far raised more than £11,500.
This is the first time that a maritime academy has taken part in Sail 4 Cancer’s 24 hour liferaft challenge, which raises funds to provide respite breaks for families affected by cancer.
Lizette van Nieker, fundraising manager of Sail 4 Cancer commented, “This was one of the most successful challenges we have done so far - definitely the hardest and logistically most challenging. The fundraising from this challenge is going to make such a difference.”
Donations can still be made through a link to the Team Warsash Sail 4 Cancer webpage.