Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Nearing the end of the season, with a tour of Britannia Royal Naval College

We've just had a few days aboard Maunie in beautiful sunny weather. Not much wind at all, however, so the plan to have a last sail came to naught. Still, we had some excellent walking up the Dart Valley, managed to strip the sails off boom and fore-stay furler in perfect (dry and windless) conditions and completed a few more maintenance jobs. In a couple of week's time we are hauling out for the winter.

Yesterday, our final day aboard, was the highlight of the week; we'd booked to go on a private tour of the Britannia Royal Naval College with another 28 south-west members of the cruising association. The tour had been postponed from last year, due to Covid, but we were very glad it was; our patience was rewarded with bright, warm, sunshine and a unique spectators' view of a normally very private Royal Navy ceremony.

BRNC, designed by Sir George Aston Webb (also responsible for the facade of Buckingham Palace) and completed in 1905

All Royal Navy Officers (and many from navies around the world) are trained here - they complete two, fifteen-week terms of intense training before their Passing Out ceremony to become commissioned officers. 

By pure chance, our tour took place on the day of the Fleet Commander's Supersession Ceremony. The Fleet Commander is the operational head of the British Navy, reporting to the First Sea Lord, who is the most senior-ranking British Naval Officer. The retiring FC, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd (who has the unique track record of being captain of three RN aircraft carriers, Ark Royal, Illustrious and Queen Elizabeth) was handing over to Vice Admiral Andy Burns, with a full guard of honour. 

We felt somewhat conspicuous as a bunch of civilians in the place but the Vice Admirals and the First Sea Lord came over to chat to us before and after the formal ceremony and were friendly and welcoming.

There was a lot of saluting going on, so we soon realised that this was an important event

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Anthony Radakin comes over for a chat

The Officer Cadets fall in to bid farewell to Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd

With the ceremony completed we were able to continue our tour of the college, led by a very knowledgeable retired officer.  

The Chapel

The Dining Hall

Maunie's mooring is just to the left of the mast

Anyone who has visited Birmingham University (another of Aston Webb's designs) will recognise the architectural style

Cadets completing ceremonial swordsmanship training for their Passing Out Parade