All Smiles For Boleh In 2023

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Despite the weather, we have smiling faces (pictured) to celebrate Boleh’s 2023 Season, with a record 120 days at sea over the 6 months.  We are delighted to report a 20% increase in young people sailed: Service schoolchildren, Army cadets, Dorset schools, Wiltshire young carers, and those troubled by mental health.  Adult sails have also risen: wounded, injured and sick from all 3 Services, military families, and accompanying teachers and mentors.  Unfortunately weather put a stop to our planned Channel crossing but Boleh has cruised extensively around the Solent and further afield.

All this is only achieved through the dedication of our Volunteers: an amazing technical and support team who respond instantly to any problem threatening Boleh’s charitable programme; Mates and Skippers, consistently lauded by our ‘customers’ for their care and professionalism, who willingly set aside their own priorities to plug any gaps in the operational roster; and our tireless fundraisers whose efforts literally keep us afloat!  Add to all this our energetic Ops Director, Craig, and the wise counsel of our Trustees and the recipe for this year’s success is almost complete.

The critical support of our many donors is the essential ingredient missing from that recipe.  We are humbled by, and extremely grateful for, the generous grants we receive to fund Boleh and her activities.  Most recently we are delighted to report a substantial grant from the Nuffield Trust for the Forces of the Crown towards Boleh’s Winter maintenance and next year’s Naval Personnel Recovery programme.  Thank you donors, thank you volunteers – we look forward to 2024 with confidence!

Boleh fully funded for Portland 2024

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We’re delighted to report Bournemouth based charity the Valentine Charitable Trust has made a generous donation towards Boleh’s participation in the Rod Shipley ‘Sail for a Fiver’ scheme, sailing Dorset schoolchildren next year.  Combined with earlier donations, this means Boleh’s delivery of this popular project for 2024 is now fully funded and Boleh will be able to give just under a hundred children a fantastic day afloat during her 3 week Portland deployment.

We are also pleased to announce that Trinity House has again supported the general costs of preparing for and executing Boleh’s sailing programmes for young people along the South Coast and in the Solent.  Their much appreciated grant will help the Trust to spread knowledge of the maritime world among these young people.  Picture – taken by our lead fundraiser and volunteer Mate, David Critchley – shows Boleh heading across Lyme Bay as dawn breaks on an earlier Portland deployment.  A big thank you to our donors and to our volunteers.

Boleh Team Changes

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Another successful Season is behind us and, sadly, we now have to say goodbye and a big thank you to three Trustees who are stepping down: Chris Austin, founder member of the Trust and Vice Chairman; Simon Springett, Ocean Yachtmaster and volunteer Skipper; and Catherine Mylet, Hon Secretary of the Trust.  At the same time we are happy to welcome a new face to the core Boleh Team: Ant Atkinson-Willes, former Army Reservist, volunteer Boleh Mate and fundraising team member, who takes over the important role of Trust Secretary.

Chris’s contribution to the Trust from its inception in 2009 included setting up and running the shipwright apprentice programme – a key part of the Boleh restoration – and subsequently the development of the Portsmouth and Gosport Schools sailing programme.  Picture shows Chris being presented with a BOLEH picture by Chair, Henry Middleton after the recent Boleh Board meeting.  Concluding his tribute, Henry said “Thank you, Chris, for your 14 years of outstanding service and for your wise, ever cheerful and invaluable counsel – we shall miss you!

Farewell Dave Sully – A True Boleh Hero

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It is with great sadness that we say farewell to Dave Sully whose death at the age of 86 marks the passing of one of Boleh’s true heroes. He was a key player in Roger Angel’s earlier rescue and restoration of Boleh in the 1980’s and part of her history thereafter.  His booklet, ‘Arising from the Ashes’, recording Roger’s restoration and their subsequent adventures on passage to the Mediterranean, is a cracking read and can be seen here

For the Boleh Team, struggling to restore Boleh over 20 years later, Dave was an inspiration, a huge and constant supporter, and a friend.  Dave’s involvement with the Boleh Trust since its foundation in 2009 has been ‘hands on’, keeping us in touch with the Angel family, helping research past history, and contributing News articles for our website – most recently in April this year.  It was fitting that Dave met HRH The Princess Royal last November (pictured}, receiving the recognition he so richly deserved for his service to Boleh.

Dave’s son-in-law, Geraint Williams, told us Dave’s funeral was low key as many contemporaries had pre-deceased him or were unable to attend. Technology, however, enabled the Service to be live streamed to friends and family across the globe; his own tribute can be seen by looking at Remembering Dave.  In response to our condolences Geraint said: “Many thanks for the Trust’s kind words for Dave, he really cherished his association with the whole Boleh Project. Our visit last year for HRH’s commissioning of Boleh and meeting all those involved and seeing at first hand the hard work to keep the precious vessel afloat was a very special highlight for him”.

Farewell Dave, our thoughts are with your family.  You helped save Boleh for future generations and we will not forget you.

Boleh Joins ‘Brilliant’ ASTO Race

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Last month Boleh joined other sail training vessels in the ASTO annual Small Ships Race, held in the Solent and run by them under rules which require half the crews to be under 25.  Boleh’s youth crew (pictured) were cadets Brandon and Issy (Devon ACF) and Eryn and Kieron both with RONA Project experience. Competitors assembled at Cowes the weekend of 6 October with a real buzz on the Quay where lots of wonderful vessels – Boleh turned many heads! – were flying their colours and sending a great vibe around the Race village.


The Race started on Saturday in a Force 6 and, with Skipper Richard Metcalfe and Mate Craig Coupe, Boleh set off downwind with one reef and smaller genoa for a cracking start, crossing the line bang on the gun.  Later the wind died down, the new large genoa was hoisted and Boleh worked her way slowly upwind and tide until the time allowance expired.  At the well attended prize giving we were very pleased to get 3rd out of our class.  On Sunday the crew planned Boleh’s return to Haslar and the weekend provided some great sailing for all onboard.

Eryn Larnder wrote afterwards “Thanks for a brilliant weekend and providing me with some brilliant memories. I really do hope I can get the chance to sail Boleh again and really get to grips with her!”  We will certainly do our best to provide that, and we are very grateful to all those who make such experiences available for young people.  So a big thank you to our volunteer Skippers and Mates, to the Boleh support team and to our generous donors, most recently the Swire Charitable Trust who have again shown confidence in our work with a 3-year commitment to contribute to our core costs.

Generous GARMIN Gift For Boleh

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We are delighted to report that electronics giant GARMIN whose products ‘deliver innovative GPS technology across diverse markets, including marine, aviation, fitness and outdoor recreation’ has generously donated a new suite of Navionics for Boleh.  The partnership approach between GARMIN and the Boleh Trust also involves GARMIN using Boleh for 6 days of corporate team-building over the next 2 years.  Their cutting edge technology will improve safety and operational efficiency, as well as providing enhanced teaching material for Boleh’s crew – instruction now includes bottom scanning with the sonar screen to verify navigation near wrecks.

For the technically minded, Boleh now has a 12” touchscreen Plotter (GPSMAP 1223) displayed in the cockpit locker. This is the ‘heart’ of the new system, linked to a 5” touchscreen at the Chart Table (TD50, only just released) which displays selected data including motor controls and charts.  There is also a new VHF radio (VHF215i) linked to a full function handset (GHS11i) sited alongside the Plotter.  All this is supported by the AIS Transponder transmitting Boleh’s data and providing other vessel tracking, together with associated sensors for wind, heading, etc.

Our heartfelt thanks to GARMIN and to Trustee and Volunteer Skipper, Nigel Craine for master-minding this very generous arrangement.

Boleh’s Wonderful Time For Young Carers

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A very rewarding part of Boleh’s Summer programme was the week giving young carers a break from the challenges faced in their daily lives.  Youth Action Wiltshire organised day sails in Boleh for these brave young people and, led by Volunteer Skipper William Barker-Wyatt and Mate Craig Palmer, they were able to benefit fully (picture) from the ‘Can-do’  experience.

William and Craig received very positive feedback and already there are talks of next year’s programme.  Commenting on the week Niki Andrews, Senior Wiltshire Young Carers Service Coordinator said “The young people had a wonderful time.  Thank you for making this amazing opportunity an experience that I am sure the young people will never forget.”

Our thanks to Wiltshire charity, The Samuel William Farmer Trust who generously funded these sails, to Youth Action Wiltshire and, of course, to our Volunteers who make all this happen.

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.