George E. Martin
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George E. Martin - Aberdovey, Wales, 1950

When I was 18, 1950, I won "Best Apprentice"� of the year at "Rubery Owen Co Ltd"� My prize was to go to the Outward Bound Sea School in Aberdovey.

It was a part of my life I will never forget.

I travelled by train to Aberdovey and on arrival was met there. Along with several other new pupils, I was taken by mini bus to the school. It was a beautiful building - on a hillside overlooking the Dovey Estuary; the view was absolutely wonderful.

Every day started at 6am. As soon as we were up, we ran down to the beach, took off our clothes and ran into the sea in our birthday suits (!) and then out and along the beach. I might add that the beach was deserted, apart from Thursdays when the train came past - on this say we stayed in the water until it passed.

I was in Drake Watch and we did something different each day - sailing, canoeing, mountain climbing, orienteering, knot tying, athletics or lifeboat drill. Sailing the dinghies was one of my favourites because sometimes it was my turn to take the tiller and be captain. I think I became quite expert!
I achieved 86% overall for my seamanship and other activities.

I think the most exciting part of my time at the school was sailing aboard the three masted square-rigged ship, The Prince Louis. Each watch spent some days on board sailing in the Irish Sea and Cardigan Bay, visiting ports on the Welsh Coast. While sailing it was hard work hoisting the very large heavy sails, adjusting sheets in accordance with the wind. When the weather deteriorated we had to climb the masts and reef the sails. This was a bit frightening because as the ship heeled over you were 40 or 50 feet up the masts leaning over the sea, so when you looked down there were only waves!

Another memorable event was our final orienteering test. Each watch was divided into 2 groups of 6 - I was voted leader of the party. We were provided with an OS map and given a route to get back to school. There were checkpoints along the way and we weren't allowed to use roads - only cross-country. At the start we were faced with a climb to the summit of Cader Idris, at the top there was a tutor to check we were ok. After a while the weather quickly deteriorated; it became very foggy and wet. Because of this we had to retrace our steps a few times to get back on route. In spite of this we managed to get back in just over 13 hours!

I believe that during my time there I became the fittest I have ever been in my life, and learned a lot about seamanship, team spirit, comradeship, leadership, but most of all I became a man.

Briefly, I am now 78 years old, have been married for 57 years, have 3 children and 8 Grandchildren. I have fortunately had a very good life, and am looking forward to some more!