Rohan Wilson
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Rohan Wilson - Moray Sea School, Burghead Scotland, 1962

I was one of the younger members of the Easter course, and rather shy. Of many highlights, for me the best was sailing in the 3-masted schooner Prince Louis, from our base at Burghead to Kirkwall in the Orkneys.

Though born and living in England I was a novice bagpiper, and as Prince Louis motored out of harbour I was told to stand on the wheelhouse, where I played Highland Laddie. As soon as we'd passed the pier Prince Louis began to roll... I all but lost my footing but kept the tune going.

I was assigned two unglamorous roles on board: the third hauler on the mainsail sheets, and "Captain of the Heads", an ironic title if ever there was one, for the cleaner of the pump-out toilets in the forecastle. But I soon took pride in my menial task. In the small hours of the first night out the wind was up, the mainsail torn, and we had to shorten sail. Fear at seeing the foam scooting past the gunwales of the leaning ship was soon forgotten as I began to enjoy the drama of the situation, and the pleasure at finding I was one of those who was not seasick. I had a lot of cleaning up to do in the "heads" and soon took a pride in it, an attitude which among other things well equipped me for changing my daughter's nappies in much more recent years.

I wasn't too good at heights, and on the calmer, sunny return sailing each of our 25 crew had to climb to the top of the ratlines, around the mainmast and down the other side... no safety harness, just our hands and feet to keep hold, about 40 feet above deck. As the slow rolling of the ship carried me over the water, first on one side, then the other, I realised that this was a special rite of passage. I came down feeling a quiet pride.

I got a lot of self-confidence from the Outward Bound experience, and won't forget it.

(I can find a current photo, none I'm afraid of the course itself.)