Brookes Bell Volunteer with the Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust

BB Volunteering MAST (1)

Earlier in the year, Bronwen Carey and Karley Smith, based in the Brookes Bell Liverpool office, embarked on an adventure on board the sail training ship Pelican of London, as mentors for Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust (MAST).  

MAST aims to offer sailing opportunities to young people, allowing them to experience life at sea to find excellence, respect, aspirations and innovation.

Learn more about Bronwen and Karley’s trip below:

They sailed with apprentices from Cammell Laird and A&P Falmouth, consisting of fabricators, welders and fitters for the shipyards. These apprentices had never spent time at sea on a ship before so for them it was a new experience to learn about sailing.

Day one of the trip was spent in port for training and literally ‘learning the ropes’. Everyone climbed the rigging and learnt which ropes controlled which sail, working together to ‘sweat and tail’ the ropes, and practice a ‘2 - 6 heave’.

Prior to departure, they were split into three watches which were MAIN, MIZZEN and FORE named after the three masts on the ship. The mentors each had three mentees on their watch. The schedule changed each day so that everyone could experience each of the conventional watches as well as an opportunity to spend a day in the Galley. When off watch, everyone on board would get involved in shipboard activities.

Using her background as a Mariner, Karley took the opportunity to teach her watch some knots and basic rope work to help the ship’s crew mend cargo nets on deck. She also used the opportunity to discuss careers at sea and to share a few sea stories from her career on cargo vessels.

Bronwen actively engaged in ocean science activities with the mentees, even getting the crew involved. They organised groups to gather samples of micro plankton from the sea, which were then examined using the on-board microscope. During this analysis, the mentees identified fibres resembling micro plastics, which were carefully collected, bagged, and labelled for transportation to The Lab at Brookes Bell.

At The Lab, the samples will undergo further examination using high-powered microscopes. The fibres suspected to be micro plastics will be analysed using the lab's fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), enabling The Lab to identify the polymer type and potentially gain insights into its origins. These findings will then be sent to a national database, contributing to the overall understanding of micro plastics in the UK.

The team on board also conducted a deck sweep, collecting samples after the ship’s “happy hour” (which is an hour of washing the entire ship!) to raise awareness about the continuous shedding of plastics from ropes and even clothing.

Bronwen emphasised the integral role of scientists in the maritime industry. They discussed the various scientific disciplines, including chemists, physicists, and marine biologists, highlighting the fact that being a scientist doesn't mean always working in a lab!

Throughout the sailing trip, Bronwen and Karley promoted the opportunities available in STEM careers, including the different Sciences, Engineering, Nautical and NDT.

This was a fantastic volunteering trip, supporting a very important charity, making use of Thomas Miller’s global volunteering scheme, which allows employees up to three days paid leave per year to undertake civic duties and community projects.

Staff Author

Thomas Miller Group