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National Sea Training College At Gravesend

A Memory of Gravesend

I spent the academic year 1987/88 in Kent training to become a Careers Adviser on a post-graduate course run by Kent College for the Careers Service.

During my course I had to visit businesses, universities, schools and colleges all around the county (and beyond) but the visit that sticks in my memory more than any other is the day I visited the National Sea Training College at Gravesend.

Along with a handful of other students I spent a well organised day in Gravesend carefully taking notes from the instructors in Seamanship, Engineering and Catering. We watched Physical Education drills and inspected the premises and interviewed some of the college's young students. However, what we were really looking forward to was the final activity offered on our one day inspection - this was to be a practical experience of going out on the water in one of the college boats.

However, it was late afternoon and we were mystified to be told by the Seamanship instructors that they were calling the activity off. They felt it would not be safe due to choppy seas and a likelihood for increasing winds. We were disappointed and greatly surprised as to our inexperienced eyes the sea simply looked grey, cold and uninviting with perhaps a bit of a breeeze. We were dismissed so made our way home a little bit earlier than expected.

That night - in October 1987 - there was the so called "Great Storm" which devastated south east England. A huge swathe of Kent was severely damaged by hurricane force winds so perhaps the seamanship instructors at the National Sea Training College were rather better weather forecasters than poor Mr Michael Fish who had the misfortune to be the BBC TV weather forecaster that night and gave a false assurance to all the viewers that there would be no hurricane!!

A memorable visit to Gravesend - but for the wrong reasons!

A memory shared by John Howard Norfolk , on Nov 12th, 2008.

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