The TS Royalist was approaching the French port of St-Malo when petty officer Sebastian Bodine was ordered to climb out onto the ship’s jack and hang a Canadian flag.
The Nelson sailor complied, but lingered on the jack as the ship entered the port.
“As we were coming in, the bridges were opening up for us because we are so tall,” said Bodine. “There were hundreds of people taking pictures of us as we come into the port. And I’m just sitting there at the very front. I thought that was an awesome, very cool thing to do.”
Bodine returned last month from a nearly three-week trip to the United Kingdom and back that included a 12-day deployment on the English Channel aboard the TS Royalist.
The Grade 11 student at L.V. Rogers and sailor with the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Hampton Gray VC was one of just 12 Canadian cadets given the opportunity to make the trip. The ship, which is nearly 32 metres long, was also run by one Canadian officer, 12 other British cadets and four more British officers.
The Royalist set sail from Portsmouth and visited other English ports before making the 17-hour journey across the Channel to France. Bodine would rotate through watches every two hours during the trip, which was far more windy than his trips out onto Kootenay Lake.
“The real difference is there’s 30-knot winds that you’re in everyday in the Channel,” said Bodine. “Then you get back here and there’s maybe two knots.”
The trip became interesting when the Royalist was passed by a fleet of cargo ships about two hours off the French coast.
“Everyone got woken up because the waves were so high they were halfway up the mast. They were coming in the boat,” said Bodine.
“I was sleeping. I took some sea sickness meds for the first week or so because I had to get my sea legs first. I hadn’t taken them yet and I just wake up to this huge crash and the door flings open and water poured in on me.
“I got woken up by this sea water, I was like ‘oh my god’ and the boat’s just rocking back and forth and I was like, ‘I’ve got to get outside right away.’”
Bodine has been sailing since he was 12 years old. He’s tried a lot of activities, including singing in Corozón, figure skating, baseball and even competing on LVR’s rugby team. But sailing has stuck.
“My mom gets me to do a lot of stuff,” he said. “She likes me figuring out what I want to do and she wants me to try everything. Then when I find something she’s like, ‘Oh you like that? You got this. You can stay in that.’”
Sailing appeals to Bodine because it’s not easy. It takes work to sail, and he says the payoff is greater for it.
“You feel everything that’s happening in the sail boat while you are doing it,” said Bodine. “You really control how fast, how slow, how tipped over, how heeled you are in the boat.
“When you are sailing in the boat, you can go pretty fast. You’re in the boat sailing along and you hit a gust of wind and the whole boat tips over. You get such an exhilarating feeling when the boat tips over and then you have to let out your sails or pull them in or whatever you have to do.”
Bodine is eyeing an application to Royal Military College in Kingston so he can continue with sailing. Failing that, he is also considering joining sailing clubs in Vancouver once he graduates from LVR next year.
The sailor’s life is the life for him.