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PTIS International School - Chiang Mai, Thailand
The International Award (IA)
Silver Medal - Sailing
18-24 June 2011
Phang Nga Bay, Phuket, Thailand
PTIS International School students achieve International Award – Silver Medal
In a first for PTIS International School, a group of young people has just completed a sailing expedition as part of their International Award (IA), otherwise known as the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
In order to achieve the IA Silver Medal Award the five determined teenagers, from four countries, traveled from Chiang Mai to complete a week-long trip which included a four-day sailing voyage around Phuket’s beautiful Phang Nga Bay. Their sailing mission needed to meet the requirements of the IA’s silver award: an expedition that included planning, training, navigation, and completing an adventurous journey! And that indeed is what they did.
After meeting their skipper and instructor, Englishman Ian Jones, for the first time they gingerly stepped on board the 47-foot Master Blaster and very quickly learned that teamwork begins immediately.
Their first duty was planning and provisioning the vessel on a budget - this had to be done before leaving port and it was an excellent ice breaker. Following this the Skipper led discussions on voyage options and passage planning. The daily navigational routes were made by the group as a whole and consisted of a variety of trips around the bay and exploration of the local coast, weather conditions being a leading factor sailing amidst Thailand’s rainy season. After setting sail, everyone became a valuable member of the crew taking a full part in sailing and running the vessel. Although none of those on board (apart from the Skipper) had any experience of sailing, the boat felt like home and friendships were formed within a very short time.
Each night the five moored and disembarked from the vessel with all provisions needed to set up camp, and prepared their dinner and breakfast. After an early rise it was back on board, navigation planning, with afternoons of sailing and motoring skills. Learning nautical lingo, preparing lunch in rolling seas, afternoon swims, learning boating knots and taking the helm were just some of the daily challenges shared by all. Nightly camp spots varied from secluded postage-stamp-sized beaches to hillside lookouts over the marina – all adding that extra adventure to the experience.
Some excitement was had by all on Day 4 when a sudden gust of wind unfurled the jib and blew one of our teammates overboard. “Man overboard” skills came immediately in to play and everyone remained cool-headed in this time of challenge!
Another problem faced the crew when they found out that the wires to the automatic anchorage system had been severed from the gear box when one of the crew held firmly on to the remote control during the flurry of rescuing the man overboard. With an inexperienced crew, rough seas and high winds, manually releasing the anchor was not an option. It was unanimously decided to do a night sail back to the marina - a good eight hours into fifteen knot winds and low tides. Turning the yacht in to a fire-lit sunset, the young crew took turns manning the helm or monitoring the navigational screen to relay sea depths to the Skipper, exemplifying team work at its finest. The final task for this fifteen-hour challenge was sighting and mooring the yacht to a channel buoy at 2:00 am in the dark of night. The Skipper said he did not believe that anyone had ever circumnavigated Phang Nga Bay in a single day… exhausted, exhilarated, mission accomplished!
A bit weary, the crew spent the last day “putting the yacht to bed” as this was Master Blaster’s last voyage of the season. Swabbing the deck, removing and cleaning the anchor, covering the sails and cleaning the galley were some of the chores that kept them busy most of the day. They were gratefully rewarded with a side trip to the Nai Ya