Two boats sailing in Wales

*Updated* Statement regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

As COVID-19 (Coronavirus) turns normality upside down and lockdown eases, we are aware that this can be unsettling for everyone so we want to let you know what is happening at Challenge Wales HQ.

UPDATE 1st June 2022: Challenge Wales does not require you to undertake a lateral flow test but if you do have one available then you are encouraged to test prior to coming onboard. Should you exhibit symptoms then you should take a test and only come to the boat if it is negative. If you have symptoms OR test positive & don’t have symptoms, Day 1 is the day after you exhibit symptoms or do the test (whichever is earlier). You should isolate for 5 days and take a lateral flow test on Day 5. If it is negative on Day 5 and 6 then you can come to the boat.

Our COVID Guarantee: We want you to book with total confidence and not worry about your voyage so should we not run a trip or postpone a trip (due to COVID) or you test positive for COVID prior to an activity and you can’t join us, we will offer you an alternative voyage, hold your money for a future trip or provide you with a refund. The choice is yours. If you hold a Challenge Wales Gift Voucher, and COVID stops you redeeming it, then your voucher will be extended (at no additional cost) for an additional 6 months, or longer if there are lockdown restrictions, giving you plenty of options to jump onboard. Should you wish to take advantage of our COVID Guarantee, we will require proof of COVID so please send us a screengrab of your positive test result when it is reported through the NHS App.

UPDATE 14th February 2022: Wales is in Alert Level 0 however, there are still COVID protocols in place onboard both our vessels. All voyage participants and crew will need to provide a negative lateral flow test on the morning of their voyage. These tests are available for free.

UPDATE 30th May 2021: As our voyages resume on limited capacity, we will be requesting all participants and crew to provide a negative lateral flow test on the morning of the voyage. These tests are available free of charge and details. Challenge Wales day voyages will resume on 1st June 2021.

UPDATE 20th April 2021: The Challenge Wales office has reopened and keeping our guests and crew safe is our priority. At all times we will be following Government Guidance.

Our proposed roadmap is subject to change and further clarification:
* 31st March 2021: Organised Outdoor Activities for Children (Under 18’s) can restart. This will include our shore-side Sea and Tell programme with social distancing and masks and restrictions in place. We will be starting with groups who are in a bubble before opening this up to non-bubbled groups.
*18th April 2021: Staff/Volunteer training to recommence with limited numbers and government guidance and RYA Cymru guidance being followed
*Mid May/Beg June 2021: Adult day voyages can restart with limited numbers. Youth day voyages can restart with limited numbers.
*21st June 2021: Residential activities will restart for young people. This may include limited numbers or being in a bubble with COVID testing prior to a voyage commencing. Adult and Youth day voyages can start with increased numbers.

Challenge Wales has always operated a high level of hand hygiene on its vessels and deep cleaning during and between voyages. This will continue with additional hand sanitising prior to boarding the vessels, more hand cleaning opportunities and additional cleaning of high touch areas on the boats. Masks/face covering must be worn below deck.

UPDATE 26th March 2021: The safety of everyone who sails with us has been of paramount importance and we continue to stress that Challenge Wales and the outdoor residential sector has a huge part to play in the recovery from the Covid pandemic.

In light of announcements from Welsh Government (and UK Government which can differ), it now seems there is a form of roadmap to get us back on the water.

UPDATE 4th January 2021: The Challenge Wales office has now partly reopened. There will be no sailing activities while there is a national lockdown in place and we continue to follow government guidance. Strict protocols are in place for managing maintenance activities onboard during the winter months.

UPDATE 23rd June 2020: Challenge Wales has now made the decision to postpone voyages up until mid August 2020 and will continue to review the situation. Over the next couple of weeks we will be in touch with all those that this now effects. We continue to monitor the situation as restrictions in Wales and the UK begin to ease in July.


UPDATE 4th May 2020: Challenge Wales has made the decision to postpone voyages up until 30th June 2020 and will continue to review the situation on an ongoing basis. We aim to be in touch with everyone regarding future voyages, two months prior to the voyage taking place to update on the changing situation.

UPDATE 24th March 2020: Following on from the previous announcement and yesterday’s Government announcement regarding limiting gatherings and staying at home, Challenge Wales has made the decision to postpone voyages up until 31st May 2020. We will be in touch with everyone affected by this over the next 24 hours and will continue to review the situation on an ongoing basis.

UPDATE 18th March 2020: Following the change in the UK Government’s advice regarding non-essential social contact (social distancing) and unnecessary travel, the Trustees of Challenge Wales have taken the difficult, but necessary, decision to suspend our sail training operations, effective immediately until 18 April 2020 and review the situation on a fortnightly basis there on, with the aim of rescheduling  these trips to a later date.  We will be monitoring very closely Government advice and Public Health Wales advice on a daily basis and over the coming days continue to make decisions regarding our sail training programme for April, May and June.

As you can imagine this is unprecedented times for the world and us as a small charity.

We want to reassure you that our priority is always the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved with the charity; our voyage crew (guests), volunteers, staff and their families.

If you are booked on a voyage during this period (Up until 18th April 2020), you will be contacted by the office this week if you haven’t already been. We would ask that you please don’t contact us regarding future voyages until Friday 27th March 2020 to enable us to speak to all voyage crew and volunteers who are currently affected by this. Moving forwards, we will be in touch regarding later voyages when decisions are made and when the time arises.

Challenge Wales is extremely proud of the reputation we have developed and our relationships we have with volunteers, stakeholders, clients, funders and supporters who have helped us get to where we are today. We are now working in a fast-moving environment that is out of our control but decisions made will be made in the best interests of our stakeholders and we will keep everyone updated as things change.  It will no doubt be a rocky road ahead for many organisations (large and small), individuals and families and we will be extremely grateful to those who are able to offer support to us. If you think there is something you can do for us at this time then please get in touch.

Please continue to monitor the News Page on our website and our social media channels (@ChallengeWales) for updates.

More information about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the symptoms can be found here on the NHS 111 Online website.

We look forward to getting back to normality, whenever that will be, and continue to change lives in a positive way.

The Challenge Wales Trustees

It’s a big THANK YOU to our amazing volunteers

The first week of June is Volunteers’ Week enabling us to say a big thank you to all those who help Challenge Wales and support young people

Our amazing volunteers make our voyages possible, they work with young people, they help with maintenance, they do the shopping ready for a voyage, they do DBS checks, they show people around the boat on open boat days, they spend days at sea helping young people leave their comfort zone, they sometimes get sea sick….and sometimes they don’t, they do fundraising, they support fundraising activities, they do cleaning to ensure the boat is spick and span, they are positive role models, they provide supportive words and encouragement to young people and are passionate about helping others. This is why we want to say thank you!

Volunteers Week Logo in Welsh

Challenge Wales is the award-winning charity that it is today because of our volunteers. The young people we work with have missed out on outdoor learning because of Covid, but our volunteers have missed out too.

Volunteering provides a way of giving back, a way of socialising and meeting new people, making new friends, learning new skills or improving current ones. It’s great for your well-being. And, volunteering can improve self-confidence and make you feel good, or even great about yourself.

So thank you again and we can’t wait to welcome back all our volunteers onto our vessels and back into the fold again.

If you are interested in being part of our volunteer team and enabling young people to broaden their horizons and develop to their potential then why not sign up to become a volunteer today and find out more.

Challenge Wales Nominated For Youth Work Excellence Award

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been nominated for an award in the Equality and Diversity category of the Welsh Government’s Youth Work Excellence Award 2020.

The awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding youth work projects that are taking place across Wales and changing lives for the better. It’s a really nice surprise to be nominated as there are so many other deserving youth organisations doing fantastic work, like us.

Challenge Wales’ project ‘Voyages of Discovery’ has been nominated which worked with a diverse range of young people giving them life skills development opportunities plus accreditation – something tangible for a CV which many participants had originally thought was out of their reach.

The ‘Voyages of Discovery’ project aligned with a number of initiatives, policies and plans at local, national and UK government level including, in particular, the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015). The Project was also relevant to Welsh Government’s Charter for Youth Work in particular the statement that all young people in Wales are entitled to easy access to “opportunities to take part in outdoor adventure and in residential and international experiences”.

The young people taking part in Challenge Wales’ sail training activities were aged 14 – 25 years and included those with learning difficulties, and/or disabilities; young people living in areas of high unemployment and from inner cities; unemployed and NEET; Care leavers; those who were homeless or in supported housing; In care/Local Authority Care; those with mental health issues; Welsh speakers; those whose first language was not English; cultural/ethnic minorities; LGBTQ+ community members; Young Carers; those with long term health issues; substance misusers; those based in rural areas with access to few opportunities; those with a parent in prison and young offenders. Challenge Wales differs from many other youth organisations in that the charity works across a diverse mix of young people rather than focussing on one or two areas paralleled with a learning environment at sea makes Challenge Wales one of the most unique learning and youth work settings in Wales.

As one youth worker said: “The group was put together because of low self-esteem, lack of confidence. Being part of a team sailing Challenge Wales has enabled the group to believe in themselves that they can do and will do activities outside of their comfort zones….a positive outcome”.

Being nominated for the award, and recognised that we are playing a big part in youth work, is a fantastic testament to our amazing volunteers who tirelessly give up their time to work with these amazing young people and help focus them onto new horizons in a positive way.

We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed to see if we have won. Winners will be announced from 3.00pm on Friday 9th October 2020 on the Welsh Governments Education Wales You Tube Channel here.

2 Minutes To Make A Difference

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has stopped many smaller charities in their tracks. But you can make a difference to Challenge Wales today, by nominating the charity for a £1,000 grant.

Challenge Wales needs 2 minutes of your time to help us get a grant from Movement for Good and your nomination will really count.

You will be nominating Challenge Wales for a chance to win a £1,000 grant to enable us to help young people improve their education, life skills and employability prospects. At this time, £1,000 will really make a big difference to Challenge Wales and the life-changing work we undertake with young people.

Nominating Challenge Wales couldn’t be easier:
* Visit: https://www.movementforgood.com/#nominateACharity
* Nominate ‘Challenge Wales’ using our Charity Number: 1111859

Your nomination could be the one that helps us win the £1,000 grant! By the way, you can only enter once (per email address)!

The more nominations we get, the greater our chance of winning, so please spread the word.

Nominations close on Sunday 24th May 2020, so we encourage you to vote as soon as possible. It will cost you nothing to help us, except 2 minutes of your time to nominate us.

Thank you so much for your support 🙂

The impact of an Easter voyage

From being unemployed and spending hours alone in his bedroom to moving into work and then to college. We take a look back on one of our young people who jumped onboard an Easter voyage a few years ago and how his life took a different tack afterwards.

This voyage has stayed with us for many years and is often talked about when we are getting people to understand the impact of our work. When we talk to funders, to supporters, to donors, to volunteers, to parents, to group leaders….it is this inspiring story that has been one of our special ‘wow’ moments. And, that encourages us to keep doing what we are doing.

‘Luke’ was 18 when he jumped onboard one of our residential voyages. Like many of our trips, he didn’t know anyone else who would be his fellow crewmates. Those jumping onboard were coming onboard for their own, and very different, reasons. Something different to do, wanting an adventure, five days of learning about the local environment, a way of completing their DofE Gold Residential, a way to become a young volunteer, an opportunity to do something new. The reasons are often always different but that doesn’t matter. Everyone is in the same boat…meeting new people and doing something that is out of their comfort zone.

On this occasion, we knew very little about ‘Luke’ and it was only several months after the voyage that this amazing story started piecing itself together…and continues to do so.

Luke was unemployed and lived with his grandmother. He lacked self-motivation, had anger management issues and spent many hours alone at home. Luke hadn’t talked for two years, didn’t have many friends and his Youth Worker wasn’t sure if Luke would be able to hold down a full-time job. His youth worker booked him onto our voyage and after stepping onboard Challenge Wales, it wouldn’t be long until Luke and his fellow shipmates would be out at sea on their own personal adventure.

So, what was the impact of this voyage on one young person?

While onboard, Luke talked for the first time in two years and the onboard daily activities helped improve his communication skills. Post voyage, Luke was keen to get a job. At his first job interview, he talked passionately about the impact of sail training and although he didn’t get this job, the knockback didn’t stop him. Within 6 months Luke was holding down a job…something his youth worker didn’t expect him to do. When we last recently spoke to the youth worker who still knows Luke, we were told he was studying for a business degree.

The impact though was wider than just Luke and had a bigger impact on the community and you can read our case study for the full story. The impact was wider than we could have imagined. Over the years we’ve been learning why we get the results we do; why there is improved mental health, improved teamwork skills, improved communication skills. It’s because the learning environment is unique, is challenging, is inspiring, is digital-detoxing, is amongst the natural environment.

We love sharing our impact and if you’ve been on one of our voyages and want to let us know what happened afterwards then we’d love to talk to you!

For more case studies visit our website.

Challenge Wales volunteers on Barry Island beach doing a microplastics survey

Challenge Wales joins in with global microplastics survey

Plastic pollution is hidden and obvious and it’s impact on marine life and the environment is shocking. So when Challenge Wales had the opportunity to play its part in a collaborative global citizen science project, we jumped at it.

On a February weekend, our volunteers headed to the beach to play their part. With high-vis jackets donned, sieves and bits of rope in hand it was time to bring science to life.

Just One Ocean and the University of Portsmouth have set up the Big Microplastic Survey to understand more about the impact of micoplastics on the environment and marine life and the Challenge Wales charity is now another group around the world that are taking part in this scientific study.

Volunteers marked out the area to be sampled, took a sample of sand and using a sieve and some water separated the sand from the plastics. Although it was volunteers undertaking this first survey, it will be young people aged 12 – 25 years who will be driving it forward and taking part in future surveys.

Challenge Wales volunteers sampling for microplastics on Barry Island Beach

Last year Challenge Wales launched an accredited Agored Cymru Environmental Project with Volvo Ocean Race Skipper, Dee Caffari who was racing on Turn the Tide on Plastic. The charity is already part of a science project measuring plankton so the microplastic survey is a great addition to the environmental awareness work the charity is already doing.

Challenge Wales voyages range in duration from 1 – 14 days and visits different coastal regions around the UK and overseas so there will be lots of opportunities for young people and adults to contribute significantly to the Big Microplastics Survey in 2019 and beyond.

We’ve blown this image up to make it easier to see what we are looking at. Look carefully and amongst the natural debris you can see different coloured microplastic pieces and polystyrene

Not only is this new study bringing science to life but also helps numeracy and literacy skills as well as improving teamwork, communication and leadership development. This activity will be undertaken on both the charity’s vessels Challenge Wales | Wales’ Tall Ship and Adventure Wales.


The Agored Cymru Environmental Project was set up as part of the Charity’s ‘Voyages of Discovery’ programme which is funded by the Big Lottery Community Fund.
Adventure Wales has been supported by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government and through the Social Business Growth Fund, which is managed by WCVA (Welsh Council of Voluntary Action).