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Wolfgang Schmidt - Moray Sea School, Burghead Scotland, 1955
Talking of seasickness the other day brought back memories to my mind that I had almost forgotten. I am German and I was 19 years old when in October 1955 the headmaster of my boarding school (Melanchthon Schule, Steinatal, Germany) gave me the chance to spend four weeks in Burghead /Scotland in the Outward Bound Morey Sea School. I was a member of Hawkins Watch. Our seamanship instructor, Mr Mackenzie used to say a short prayer every morning before breakfast which sounded for my German ears like: “Thaaanks GOD fe whtwiareboutericieveeimankooks to the galley!“ As I could not identify this language I asked some of my mates to explain, but the Scottish boys' dialect was like Suaheli to my ears and I couldn't understand them. After some days I asked the Matron, Mrs Carlson and she said that the prayer went like that: „For what we are about to receive, may the LORD make us truely thankful. Amen.“ And 'cooks to the galley' meant that the boys, who were in charge of supplying the tables with food had to stand up and get it. The knots, Mr Mackenzie taught us in the shed at the harbour were very helpful later when I started mountain climbing in the Alps back home in Germany. And I still today remember one of the seamanship rules I learned from him: If on starboard red appear it is your duty to keep clear- to act as judgement says is proper- to starboard, portside, back or stopper! On the „Prince Louis“ we left Edinborough harbor in the afternoon and sailed north. The wind got stronger and stronger and at 10:00 p.m. the bosun came down and shouted: „All hands on deck. We must take the sails down“. I was ordered to take the jibsails in from the bowsprit. On my way back to the forcastle I sacrificed all I had in me to Neptune. And then I lay in my bunk and wanted to die – immediately!!! At about 4:00 p.m. Mr Mackenzie came and shoved a salty butterbicuit into my mouth and said: „Eat it!“ It didn't want to stay with me. Nor did a few minutes later the second and later the third biscuit. But Mr. Mackenzie continued his round and the fourth biscuit was accepted by my stomach. A few minutes later I began to feel better and started enjoying the fact that I had not died yet. Among the fond memories of that time is the annual Tanksgiving Service of the Royal and Merchant Navy in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinborough. We, the 'cadets' of the Outward Bound School, had received a special invitation and had the honour to march into the cathedral right behind the Admiralty. I remember us running to take the showers in the neighbouring building on ice cold mornings - marching in line down to the harbour - rowing out of the Harbour with the transom sterned cutter and then setting sail (fasten it to the mast – hoist it). If you wanted to change the course, you had to lower the sail – release it - move it back – move it forward on the other side of the mast – fasten it to the mast – hoist it. Very difficult on windy days!!! Long expedition (2 days) along the Findhorn river (beautiful landscape in with the autumn colours). Deadline for arrival at camp was 4:30 p.m. We arrived at 4:00 – on the wrong side of the river (the nearest bridge about 5 miles away) and saw the camp on the other bank. Wading through the ice cold water across the slippery stones was quite an experience! All those memories – and of course some more - are precious to me and I'll keep them in my heart forever. What I learned for myself in that Outward Bound Moray Sea School in Burghead was: if you really want to achieve something, try hard – not only once, but again and again and do not be shy to ask for help or accept help from others!