Journal reporter tries her hand at sailing in Lowestoft

The crew of the Leila in Lowestoft yacht basin

The crew of the Leila in Lowestoft yacht basin - Credit: Archant

I might have lived on the coast all my life, but I've never actually been out on the North Sea.

Polly Grice takes the helm of the Leila

Polly Grice takes the helm of the Leila - Credit: Archant

So when the Leila Trust asked if I'd like to go out with them on a sail to find out more about their work I accepted the invitation with some trepidation.

Clambering aboard the Leila, moored at heritage quay next to the South Pier, I texted my parents my last requests should I fall in and drown. A fate which I thought was inevitable.

For the first 20 minutes I didn't let go of the side. I watched in half horror, half admiration as the team scrambled around the Victorian racing yacht getting her prepared for the sail. Are they not worried about falling in?

But as I began to get into it, I realised that actually sailing wasn't that bad. I was quite enjoying myself.

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Then we turned with such force the deck was practically perpendicular to the sea and water was lapping in on the side. No matter how much skipper David Beavan assured me we couldn't capsize, I didn't quite believe him.

But he was right. We continued north up to Corton, had a sail round and came back, all as I sat and enjoyed lovely views of the coast as the rest of the team raced round making sure everything ran smoothly.

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Then, as we were going back into the harbour, the dreaded moment approached and I was asked to help.

Gingerly I stood up to hear my instructions, which had to be translated out of sailing speak and into regular English - 'pull that rope'.

Rope successfully pulled, I took on a new lease of life. Once I had realised I could stand up without falling off the side, I began pulling more bits of rope, and even helped tie up the sails.

As we sailed back into the yacht basin, I was quietly proud of having managed to not drown.

And I have a serious new-found respect for the Leila and all who sail in her.

My crewmates for the day were Ellis Langley from Lowestoft Sixth form college, Vincent Vigo da Gallidoro, Reece Denton from the Benjamin foundation aspire centre in Great Yarmouth and social worker Steve Elliott.

They will be joining Jobe Reeves and Wayne Freeman on a trip to Norway, where they will then enter a tallships race to Denmark.

Guys, I wish you all the luck in the world for the race.

But if you find yourself a crew member short, please don't call me.

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