COTTLESVILLE, N.L. — Seventeen-year-old Schylar Krul was in disbelief when he found out he was one of 12 Canadian sea cadets chosen to practice his sea skills aboard the TS Royalist, a tall ship based out of Plymouth, United Kingdom.
The Grade 12 student from Cottlesville, who is a member of the 83 Briton Sea Cadet Corps in Twillingate, has been a sea cadet for seven years.
Krul was the only Newfoundlander who got to participate in the three-week program.
The Canadians were flown to the UK on April 23 to train with 12 British sea cadets, learning from six experienced crew members.
“It was the trip of a lifetime,” Krul said. “The trip everyone wants to go on. It was so amazing.”
What is even more amazing is that this was the second sea cadet travel experience Krul was awarded this year.
In March he travelled to British Columbia where he experienced life aboard the PCT Orca, a Royal Canadian training vessel.
In the UK Krul and the 11 other Canadian cadets spent the first week sightseeing. They visited tourist attractions like London Eye, Buckingham Palace and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Then they joined the ship with their British counterparts, spending two weeks touring the English Coast. They also crossed the English Channel to stay in France for three days.
The Canadian cadets built their skills alongside their English counterparts.
“There was so much to learn on the boat,” said Krul. “We were constantly doing something. We learned all the ropes. There was 100 differently ropes on the boat and each one did a different thing.
“There’s nothing electrical on the ship; if you have to hoist the main sail, you have to get 12 people on the line hauling it up. It was basically us 24 cadets sailing the boat. The staff just told us what to do.”
As the UK cadets earned badges for training levels completed, so did the Canadian cadets. Krul reached Offshore Seaman 2.
Krul’s job was to keep the forward port watch. He took the helm and drove the boat as well as kept track of the ship’s navigation. When he wasn’t working he had the freedom to sit on the deck and catch some rays.
“It was really relaxing,” Krul remarked. “It was gorgeous on the boat, the sights and stuff.”
It wasn’t all watches and sun tanning on the boat though. Krul had one scary incident.
“We had an overnight sail and we hit a hurricane, as they called it,” Krul recollected. “We all got called up at 3 a.m. to fix the sails; when we were doing that the life raft accidentally deployed and was stuck in the water, then the line got caught around our propeller. We had no means of going anywhere.
“We were drifting for about 13 hours but that ended up fine.”
He also experienced seas so choppy that waves washed over the deck of the boat. Krul said he knew he was basically safe and wasn’t too frightened.
Paradoxically, one of the scariest aspects was also one of the most fun for Krul.
“My favorite part is when you had to set the sails, which were stowed at the top of the mast,” Krul said. “You had to get your harness and hook it up and climb to the very top of the mast to let go the sails while you are sailing at sea, so the boat’s rocking.
“While you are up there you get to see so, so many miles away. It’s called climbing the loft. I was frightened to death when I did it the first couple of times but then I got used to it. They always need people to go up and fix the sails so I raised my hand every time and got used to it.”
Krul was sad to leave his new friends when the experience ended May 13. He said he was happy to be home but could have stayed out there much, much longer.
Krul sacrificed his Grade 12 graduation to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His future adventures include applying to work with the RCMP. He also hopes to continue with the cadet program, as an officer, after he graduates from the organization this year.