St. Mary's National School, Ballygunner. 6th Class visit to the………..

On Thursday 12th October 2000, 6th class from St. Mary's Primary School, Ballygunner, Waterford, Ireland, visited the STV Asgard II at the Waterford Marina. The Sail Training Vessel Asgard II was on a short visit to Waterford.

The Asgard II is a brigantine. A brigantine is a ship that carries square sails on the main mast and triangular sails on the aft mast. The Asgard can set thirteen sails. They are the flying jib and fore staysails. The main course, topgallant and topsail are on the main mast. The gaff sail are on the aft mast. The front and back of a ship are known as the bow and stern. The two sides of a ship are the port side and starboard side. The port side is the left hand side when looking forward. The starboard side is the right hand side.

We climbed on to the foredeck and walked to the bow of the ship. We saw bowsprit with the sails attached. The safety net would prevent a sailor from falling into the sea while working on the sails. In stormy weather a sailor would often get plunged into the sea while working out on the bowsprit. Beneath the bowsprit is the figurehead, a carving of Grace O'Malley, a pirate sea queen who once ruled the sea off the west of Ireland.



We then descended the stairs to the main cabin. Fiona the bosun showed us where the trainees slept and lived. She told us that the Asgard II carries five permanent crew and twenty trainees. The permanent crew are the captain, mate, engineer, bosun and cook. The "captain" is in charge of the ship. The "mate" is in charge of the crew. The "engineer" looks after the engine and all the instruments. The "bosun" is in charge of the sails and all the gear. The "cook" has to feed all the hungry sailors.

Fiona also showed us pictures of the Asgard II's four week voyage to Canada. The pictures were very interesting. We saw pictures of flying fish, strange birds and a boat that looked liked a car at a carnival. The cook works in the ship's galley with help of some trainees. The galley was quite small. The toilets on a boat are called the "heads". The permanent crew have separate cabins and their own saloon.

The mate Liam told us about the ships safety equipment. Ellen tried on a harness that everyone has to wear in rough weather. The ship also has a life raft and life jackets. Ships communicate using a VHF radio. Each ship has it's own bell. The bell is rung every half hour and tells the sailors when it's time for their watch. At eight bells the sailors change watch.

Ciara tried steering the ship. The ships compass helps you point the ship in the correct direction.

The trainees were busy helping the cook bring the stores aboard as they were preparing to sail away. We also met the ship's captain. We were able to ask lots of questions and learned all about the ship.

We really enjoyed our visit and the crew were very friendly. Nobody wanted to climb the mast but when we're older we want to sail on the Asgard II as trainees.

Ms. Whittle's Sixth Class,
St. Mary's National School,