February 28, 2014
Ahead of the epic voyage of FPB 64 GREY WOLF, owned by Peter Watson, we take a few minutes to speak to the first of the Berthon Boat Company apprentices as he makes the journey from Lymington to Auckland to join the crew for the delivery home.
Having applied through the Berthon Apprentice scheme, Jack Gunstone-Smith is now in his 3rd year of a 4 year advanced apprenticeship shipwright training programme at Berthon. Jack is from Pembrokeshire and re-located to Lymington to fulfil his ambition to become a shipwright.
Originally Jack started at Berthon working on refit projects and until recently he was working on RIPPLE, a 1925 35′ Berthon West Solent One Design rebuild, and now working with fellow apprentice Joe Bullen under the guidance of shipwright chargehand Mike Prince on the refit of HEATHER a Berthon built 12 ton Gauntlet design from 1934.
Jack was chosen as one of six Berthon apprentices by Peter Watson (Owner of GREY WOLF), along with Brian May (MD at Berthon) and Keith Longman (Yard Manager at Berthon) to join his epic delivery to the UK from New Zealand. Following an application and interview process offered to Berthon Boat Company’s 30 apprentices, the panel chose those applicants that would benefit the most in terms of their personal and professional development; for example, two youngsters with plenty of sea-going experience failed to make the cut.
Prior to joining GREY WOLF for Leg 1 from Auckland to Tahiti, Jack will be working at Circa Marine, where the FPB yachts are built, for the two weeks before they start the long journey home; an awesome experience for our apprentice.
We asked Jack what preparation he has been doing ahead of the flight to New Zealand to join GREY WOLF. “Apart from looking for some private sponsorship to help me with costs, I have been brushing up on a few skills that will be needed on the journey. I will be taking my Yachtmaster Theory to help with navigation, also brushing up on my cooking and baking skills with the help of my landlady in Lymington”.
Peter Watson is keen that the apprentices play an active role during the voyage, so they are not just passengers and being part of the watch system. Along with passage planning, navigation, and daily maintenance, the apprentices will be involved in all aspects of crew work on-board, including cooking and the daily cake baking competition.
When asked about why he applied for the chance to sail on-board GREY WOLF, Jack said “Opportunities like this don’t come around that often; it’s a once in a life time chance to do something like this. I am really looking forward to the experience, not just on-board GREY WOLF, but also using my skills on the FPB 78 build at Circa, making a connection with New Zealand and the time at sea”.
Currently, Jack doesn’t have that many sea miles under him, only a number of sea trials on boats he has worked on at Berthon. He says the longest he has been at sea is three and a half hours between Fishguard and Rosslare on a ferry!
Jack is still looking to secure funds to help with his trip, to help with this he is regularly doing pieces for a website from his hometown of Narbeth – www.onenarbeth.co.uk and talking with his local Rotary club.
Leg 1 from Auckland to Tahiti should take 11 days aboard GREY WOLF, covering around 2200 nautical miles. For Leg 2 (Tahiti to Panama) Berthon 2nd Year marine electrician Ben Pearcy will be joining the crew.
Everyone at Berthon would like to wish Jack, Peter and the rest of the GREY WOLF crew a safe journey from Auckland to Tahiti.
To follow the Long Voyage Home please visit the GREY WOLF blog: http://www.berthon.co.uk/greywolf/