Teenager spends 16th birthday at sea

Annabel Hogbin
Annabel Hogbin

For most teenagers their 16th birthday is an occasion for partying into the early hours – but talented young sailor Annabel Hogbin chose to go to sea on her big day.

Her birthday on September 15 was the first date on which she could undertake the final part of the prestigious Day Skipper sailing qualification for which the minimum age is 16. Annabel, a pupil at Burgess Hill Girls, could not wait to get stuck in to her three days of sailing, travelling between 
Brighton Marina and Eastbourne, which included a night at sea.

She completed the Day Skipper qualification at the age of just 16 years and two days, making her one of the youngest candidates to achieve such a feat.

She had already undertaken 60 hours of online lessons and sat two written exams on topics including preparation for sea, navigation, pilotage, meteorology, maintenance and repair work, engines, victualling and emergency situations.

Annabel was not allowed to forget that the first day of the three-day sail was her big day.

“When I walked on to the boat there was a birthday cake there; it was so nice,” she said.

She said the night sail, on the second of the three days, was an ‘amazing experience’.

“You turn all the lights off,” she said. “You have to be able to feel the wind on your face and adjust your sails to that.

“You can’t rely on the technology so it feels very old fashioned.”