Ian Gawn
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Ian Gawn - Moray Sea School, Burghead Scotland, 1961

After a month learning to fly on an RAF Flying Scholarship, I took the train to Scotland for Outward Bound Course M112 at Burghead. The accommodation was school dormitory style, food basic but plentiful and the staff mainly ex-Service or Merchant Navy, and the Warden (principal) a former Brigade of Guards major. The rules were basic - no drinking, no smoking and don't upset the wee frees (local non-conformists) on Sunday. The watches into which we were divided were from a wide spectrum, on my watch were a son of the owner of a small shipping company and a youngster who lived in a tenement in the Gorbals in Glasgow and who worked in match factory. The plan for the month was getting fit and sailing 32 foot cutters in the bay the first week, then three expeditions, one by cycle and foot to the three highest summits in the Cairngorms, a canoeing expedition on the Great Glen (including Loch Ness), and a 5 day cruise in Prince Louis, former Danish trading ship. A third of the course would be on one expedition and the swap over so by the end of the course we had all done all three. The introduction also included going up the mast of Prince Louis on the ratlines one side and down the other when the ship was dried out in Burghead Harbour, so we were I guess 90 ft above the mud - and I HATE heights.

It did not quite work out like that. The fitness week and sailing went fine,. I had sailed 27 ft dipping lug Montague whalers with the school Naval CCF section so 32 ft dipping lug cutters were just a step up. As one of the few who had sailed before I got the main sheet, the main problem with which was stepping over the seasick and prostrate lad from Glasgow every time we tacked. The expedition to the Cairngorms was "interesting"�. The time allowed was deliberately short and we were using the oldest sit-up-and-beg bikes imaginable. However, we made it there and back on time, to be told that the West Coast had bneen hit by the tail end of a hurricane and we were going to help with the clean-up: shades of winter 2013/4! We would then canoe down some of the Caledonian Canal and the crew the schooner back to Burghead. We worked for a couple of days near Fort William clearing trees, and sleeping in a barn, then walked the Five Sisters of Kintail. It was so windy that we had to hang on to the youinger smaller members to stop them blowing away - risk assessment - bah, humbug! We then canoed to Fort Augustus. The canoes were heavy wooden things, with no in-built bouyancy, and we also had a deadline to meet Prince Louis - something to do with the skipper having an eyesight problem and being limited to sailing in daylight hours. In the end we did 36 hours on the ship, but I would dearly have liked longer.

Back at the School we cleaned all the kit, had a final inter-watch race and had certificates presented. More importantly I had learned much about myself, and how to handle people, all of which would, I believe, contribute a few years later to my passing the Cranwell course.