Local Charity Supports Boleh’s Portland Schools Programme

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Boleh’s month long Portland schools programme was again an unqualified success this year.  So we’re very happy to report that funding is already coming in for her participation in next year’s  ‘Rod Shipley Sail for a Fiver’ scheme.  We are very grateful to the Dorchester based Alice Ellen Cooper Dean Charitable Foundation – which focusses particularly on Dorset and West Hampshire – for their generous donation towards the costs of our 2024 Portland deployment.  Picture shows young trainees from this year’s Dorset schools programme learning the benefits of teamwork on Boleh’s foredeck.

Sapper Veteran Reunited With ‘Can Do’ Boleh

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Boleh’s longstanding link with the Royal Engineers (the ‘Sappers’) took another step forward recently when 93 year old former Sapper officer, Colin Brown, was finally reunited with Boleh.  Colin served with the Army in Malaya from 1948 to 1951 and, as a keen sailor, became very interested when he heard about the Boleh adventure.  On return to the UK he named his first house after the saying “Boleh” (‘can do’ in Malay) and then saw the vessel in Salcombe and bought the ‘Boleh’ book in the early 1960’s.  Two year’s ago Colin’s son contacted us, as his father was trying to reconnect with Boleh.

Despite Covid delays, and with the help of the Boleh team, this has finally been achieved – picture shows Colin alongside Boleh, flanked by son Ian with wife Felicity and daughter Claire.  Ian told us his father was most impressed with the fittings and quality of the finishes, and to see the Royal Engineers badge in the saloon.  He reread the book before his visit and has talked of nothing else since, spending last week hunting through old photographs to find a picture of Boleh he took in Salcombe.  Ian added “My father did reprimand me following the visit saying everyone was pronouncing “Boleh” incorrectly. It should be pronounced “BULEH” (meaning not just ‘Can Do’ but a more positive – yes I ‘Can Do’).”  Thank you Colin, we will take that onboard!

Learning with Boleh

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We are often asked what the young people we sail ‘actually’ gain from their Boleh experience? So we passed the question on to our Lead Skipper and volunteer, Richard Metcalfe who recently led a Solent cruise with a group of Army Cadets.  Describing the cruise as ‘a great success’  with ‘all cadets stating how much they enjoyed it and that they had gained a lot from it’, Richard went on to reel off the range of Learning Outcomes achieved during the week.

Here is Richard’s list – somewhat reordered for coherence (!):

  • dangers of being at sea, man overboard drills
  • knots, ropes, cleats, sheets, sail trim, sail raising, lowering, flaking and stowage, topping lifts, reefing
  • traditional navigation (pictured), pilotage, compass fixes/plotting, basic collision regulations, tides
  • steering with the tiller, safe use of winches, mooring lines, securing alongside, anchoring
  • use of dinghy, rowing, electric outboard motor, lifting bridle
  • food preparation, stowage, vessel cleaning
  • life at sea in a sailing vessel, close living, cooperation, team work, social skills

Thanks Richard and thank you Boleh.

Boleh Thrills For Army Cadet Force

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This month Devon Army Cadets (ACF) have again been making the most of Boleh for their Summer ‘Camp’.  Two groups of cadets explored the Western Solent under the guidance of Skippers Craig Coupe and Richard Metcalfe and Mate Andy Pritchard.  Boleh’s cruise included visits to Yarmouth, Lymington, the Beaulieu River, Newtown Harbour, and Cowes and was not without excitements: very changeable weather, an unexpected and rapid electric motor replacement (thank you David Hadfield), and a seal playing hide and seek under the dinghy. The success of the fortnight is captured in extracts from Cadet Oscar’s report:

The Boleh expedition was an amazing and unique opportunity. Our group did 83 nm and I learned so much about sailing and general maritime knowledge. I’d never been sailing before and at first it was shocking and scary with slanting to one side and lots of different things going on at once.  But I got used to it and it was thrilling.  The Boleh crew were awesome and supportive and showed a great interest. It felt like a small family. The food was also great and us cadets cooked most nights and the food was quite delicious – even the adults can back me up on this.  Thank you so much to everyone who gave me this opportunity and experience.”

Next month the ACF will again be chasing their Boleh thrills when Cadets from South West Group cross the Channel with Richard and Craig.  We are very grateful to our volunteers and our funders who make these expeditions possible.

‘Fantastic’ Boleh Delivers For Portland Schools

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We are delighted to report Boleh’s recent Portland deployment was a fantastic success!  With glorious weather, not a single day of the Chesil Sailing Trust’s (CST) 4 week ‘Sail for a Fiver’ programme for local schools was missed. The Boleh Team of Craig Coupe, Edwin Blenkinsopp, Ant Atkinson-Willes, Stuart Tait and local Volunteers John Tweed and Peter Steel, delivered what one student described as ‘my best day ever’ to 84 young people and 17 adult supporting staff.  A huge thank you for their efforts.

The programme also included a day sail to thank CST Trustees for their generous support.  CST Trustee Steven Moatt later emailed Craig to say: ‘Just wanted to say thanks for the opportunity to sail on Boleh. A fantastic boat, very interesting history and I can see the valued experience it offers young people.’  Picture shows Dorset Studio School students celebrating their day at sea.  Other schools to benefit from the programme were Wey Valley, Atlantic, All Saints and Budmouth Academies, and the Dorchester Learning Centre.  We are very grateful to the Pineapple Youth Trust and to the Rod Shipley Memorial Fund for making this happen.

Nuffield Trust Funds Boleh’s Armed Forces Recovery Programme

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We are very proud to be involved again in the recovery programme for wounded, injured and sick members of the Armed Services.  Last year Boleh sailed members of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines and this year we have been privileged to include serving members of the Army and the Royal Air Force.  We are also delighted to report that we have received a further generous grant from the Nuffield Trust for the Forces of the Crown, part of which will be used to fund this tri-Service recovery programme..

So far this year Boleh has run 2 x 5 day recovery sailing courses – often in brisk weather; a third course is programmed for the autumn.  Brilliantly organised by RN Recovery Manager, Angie Cheal and delivered by our Volunteer Skippers and Mates led by Ops Director, Craig Coupe (pictured instructing), these have been judged a resounding success.  Without exception, Course feedback has described the positive impact of their Boleh time and praised the ‘amazing’ care, patience and understanding of the Boleh team.  We are very grateful to our Volunteers and to the Nuffield Trust for achieving this outcome.

The Nuffield Trust grant will also enable Boleh to continue delivering adventurous and exciting sailing for the Armed Forces and their families.  This will include sailing Service children from Portsmouth and Gosport schools, supporting the Portsmouth Veterans Outreach programme, delivering a fortnight’s cruise for Devon Army Cadets, and introducing young people in the Military Mentors programme to life at sea.  Our heartfelt thanks to the Nuffield Trust for the generosity they have shown.

Boleh Happy Back With Sappers

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Last month Boleh was in Lymington for the weekend at the invitation of the Royal Engineer Yacht Club, joining their annual meet and competition with the Royal Lymington Yacht Club for a third time.  Skippered by former Sapper and volunteer, Bruce Snelling, Boleh acted as host ship for the returning Race crews (see picture).

Commenting on the Rally, Boleh Trustee and former Commando Chaplain, Rev Simon Springett described the weekend as ‘a very happy event’.  Boleh’s connection with the ‘Sappers’ goes back to the 1960s when she was sail training vessel for their Junior Leaders Regiment in Dover.  We continue to value this connection and are very grateful to the REYC for their invitation and hospitality.

Boleh At Gosport Marine Festival

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Once again Boleh was a star attraction at this year’s busy Gosport Marine Festival, held in stunning weather at Haslar Marina.  Hosted by our Chairman and Trustees, we welcomed onboard a steady flow of visitors.  Notable guests included Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, President of the RN and RM Charity which generously supports so much of Boleh’s work, and Councillor Martin Pepper, Mayor of Gosport.  Now Boleh is looking forward to next month’s Portland deployment with 4 weeks sailing local schoolchildren under the Chesil Sailing Trust’s ‘Sail-for-a-Fiver’ scheme.

Inspiring Boleh Sail For RNSA CEO

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Boleh’s links with the Royal Naval Sailing Association continue to strengthen.  Their HQ is next to Haslar Marina and we were honoured recently to have RNSA’s CEO, Phil Warwick at sea with us for a blustery day in the Solent.  Boleh’s historic connection with the RNSA goes back to 1950 when she and her Naval crew were awarded the Association’s Cruise Challenge Cup for the epic voyage from Singapore to Salcombe.  Phil, pictured with patients from the RN Recovery Programme, described his Boleh experience as ‘a great day afloat …..  very inspiring’.

National Historic Ships help Boleh

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We’re delighted to report a welcome grant from National Historic Ships (NHS) towards the repair of Boleh’s unique quadruped mast.  Designer Robin Kilroy had the original masts built of solid timber in Singapore before sailing Boleh to Salcombe in 1950.  When, 60 years later, Boleh was restored in Portsmouth as a Historic Ship, the distinctive quadruped mast clearly had to be retained. Modern operating conditions, however, rely on electronic equipment at the mast head – a feature not required before.

During Boleh’s restoration the solid spars were declared not fit for purpose and new spars, constructed with hollow channels, replaced the old. These reduced topweight and also provided a conduit for electric cables. Tim Gilmore and his team constructed the new mast (pictured) at Birdham Pool and have since unstepped and refurbished these spars.  Now a problem has arisen – water penetration into the mast channels – and we are very grateful to NHS for the funds which will allow Tim to tackle this during Winter Maintenance.