June 9, 2021
Nicola Douglas

Cruising on the River Crouch brings smiles all round

Last Friday, a group of eight young people from Youth Links in Southend had an unforgettable half term treat with a day out on board Rannoch Adventure’s 53 foot Hanse support yacht, “Jack”. And despite the rain, they all seized the opportunity to try something new and loved the adventure it provided.

After leaving the Burnham Yacht Harbour, skipper Charlie Pitcher (founder of Rannoch Adventure) took them down the River Crouch, past Burnham town water front and on into the River Roach where they saw seals playing in the water and basking on the mud banks. They then ventured further into the River Roach up to Paglesham where they spotted Levi’s Grandad’s fishing boat on its mooring.  

Despite some of the teenagers never having been on a boat before and the wet conditions, they all agreed the trip had been hugely enjoyable and they had learnt lots about life on board a yacht, the Essex coastline and the wildlife they saw along the way.

One of the youths, Matthew, said:

When I heard about the trip I instantly wanted to come. I’ve never been on a boat before but Jack is bigger and better than I thought. I loved having a go at steering and feeling like I was in control of the boat. The seals were brilliant and the whole day exceeded my expectations. It’s been adventurous, fun and everyone’s been really friendly.

The sailing trip was inspired by the BBC’s Children in Need coverage last November. Charlie (founder and Director of Rannoch Adventure) had been watching the programme and made the decision there and then to use Rannoch’s support vessel, Jack, to give something back to the community.

Charlie said:

It’s easy to donate money to charity but I wanted to do more. I’ve had a lifetime on the water and fully understand the benefits that being outside, enjoying our coastline and trying your hand at something new can bring to young people. So we made contact with Youth Links in Southend and made it happen.
I loved chatting to them all, showing them the ropes and pointing out where the remains of Charles Darwin's ship HMS Beagle lies in the River Roach. They embraced the whole experience in a totally positive manner and it was wonderful to see their smiles and enthusiasm. It was a win win for everyone – what a great, fulfilling day we all had.

Youth Links (part of Trust Links) is a peer support group for young people aged 11-18 which offers a programme of therapeutic, creative and social activities designed to enhance and improve mental wellbeing. It is all about giving young people a place to go where you can feel free to express yourself and learn about mental health.

Victoria Dann, Children, Youth and Families Team Manager for Youth Links, said afterwards:

Sailing on a yacht is something that these children would never usually have the opportunity to do and so to be able to offer them this experience and see how well they responded was a truly joyful thing to be involved in.
A large percentage of our young people have a diagnosis of ADHD or Autism, usually accompanied by a high level of anxiety, and to see how calm being on the water made them, how well they communicated with each other, and also how accepting they all were of a new experience that may have usually been worrying, was wonderful. It really was a beautiful thing to witness and be part of and I don’t think any of us wanted to leave at the end of the trip. The children’s spirits certainly were very high on the drive home in the minibus!

Trust Links is South East Essex’s local independent charity for mental health and wellbeing. They offer therapeutic gardening, recovery classes, social activities, employment training, and more to people living with mental health conditions and for unpaid carers. They support around 1,500 people in Southend, Castle Point and Rochford each year and are committed to building stronger communities and promoting sustainable living.