Wisbech yacht harbour notched up another notable first last month when one of the country’s sea cadet training ships docked there for 24 hours.
The TS Jack Petchey and its crew, including 12 young cadets, called in to the port on its way down the east coast – the first time one of the nation’s offshore training fleet has visited Wisbech.
The visit represents a significant success for the harbour authority, which hopes it will help boost the port’s profile and lead to more vessels dropping by to make use of its facilities.
Wisbech Mayor Councillor Sam Hoy was one of about 60 people welcomed on board during the stay. They included Wisbech sea and air cadets, parents and harbour berth holders.
Afterwards the ship’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Colin Watkins, said he plans a return visit and would be recommending that other offshore training vessels follow suit.
Andrew Foster, the yacht harbour’s boatswain and a former commanding officer of Wisbech Sea Cadets, was delighted by the visit’s success.
“We have been trying to get one of the training fleet to come for the past three years,” he said. “Most vessels making passage up or down the east coast tend to go straight past the Wash, so to be able get a vessel such as the TS Jack Petchey to come into Wisbech is a big achievement. Hopefully, when word gets round, more will visit.
“To see one of the fleet’s training vessels for the first time and talk to all the people on board has really motivated our local cadets to want to go sea and think of the careers that are open to them.”
Cadets on the training ships undertake a wide range of tasks, including deck work, navigation and bridge watch keeping, and get a taste of marine engineering.
Tasks carried out by the TS Jack Petchey’s young crew included helping steer the ship in from the Wash – something that won them high praise for their helmsmanship from the pilots. They also had some time off in the town.
Clinton Dorrington, the harbour master, said: “The local cadets were over the moon to see the ship. A visit like this also helps put Wisbech on the map and reinforces our efforts to promote the Wash as a cruising destination. That can only be good for the port and the whole town. We have excellent facilities here for visiting yachts and powerboats and the harbour’s location next to the town centre is ideal.”
Councillor Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s portfolio holder responsible for the economy, including Wisbech Port, also welcomed the visit. “Developing the port and the harbour is a vital element in our overall economic strategy and one of the key objectives of the Wisbech 2020 Vision,” he said.
“Special events like this help to take that forward and act as an inspiration for some of our young people.”