Out on the open sea with the Methil Sea Cadets

Dressed in their wetsuits, the youngsters line up on No.3 Dock Methil, fidgety with anticipation –or just shivering from the cold, perhaps?

Then one by one, they jump; right into the air and down to the water with an almighty splash.

Methil Sea Cadets at TS Ajax

Methil Sea Cadets at TS Ajax

All in a night’s work at the Methil Sea Cadets.

Add to that sailing in kayaks and canoes, and beautiful summer sunshine, and you have the perfect evening of fun.

The sea cadets, based at TS Ajax at Methil Docks, were formed over 70 years ago in 1942 – nearly 90 years after the first sea cadets unit was created in Whistable, Kent in 1854.

Once based in the arches of the old rail tracks, the Methil Unit now meets twice-weekly - as well as for weekend events - at its purpose-built premises right next to the docks.

Right now, there are around 32 cadets on the books, but treasurer Dick Harden would love to see more youngsters down at the docks and taking part in parades and events across the country.

“The cadets are learning a number of life skills here. I think the young people quite enjoy dressing up and do get a certain pride from it.”

The Methil Sea Cadets offer the opportunity for 12-18 year olds to join, as well as a junior section for 10-12 year olds. Both girls and boys are welcome, and Dick says there has been a quite a big increase in the number of girls in the last few years.

“There’s only just slightly more boys than girls at the moment, and in the seven years that I have been treasurer, there has been a marked change.”

As well as weekly parade nights, the cadets take part in a number of weekend events and trips away, with some just back from the Youth Outdoor Challenge and more due to visit the TS Vigilant in the next few weeks.

But providing the equipment and the premises for nights like this doesn’t come cheap, and unlike the army and air cadets, sea cadet units are all registered charities and do not receive any financial assistance from the MoD. They do have access to grants for capital projects and the purchasing of necessary equipment, but rely almost completely on fundraising for the annual running costs of the unit, which is approximately £10,000.

Just two weeks ago, the cadets raised almost £800 during a bag pack at Sainsbury’s in Leven, and throughout the year, the unit organises a number of fundraising events, such as sponsored walks and swims, street collections, raffles and car boot sales.

“I think we need to get this out there as I don’t think people realise we are completely self-funded and the cadets have to get the money themselves,” said Marji Thomson, from the Parents and Supporters Association.

The unit is hoping for a good turnout at its next event, a summer fun day down at TS Ajax on June 22, where visitors can find out about the unit and even get to grips with sailing as well.

“People can come down and find out about the cadets and what we do here,” said Marji. “We have all of the equipment, so they can even have a go in the boats too.”

The summer fun day takes place on Sunday, June 22 from noon to 3.00 p.m.

My evening as a sea cadet...

As community reporter, its my job to get out in the field and see for myself what the people of Levenmouth are up to. So when I was invited to visit the sea cadets at TS Ajax, I thought it would be a great opportunity to witness the good work of a long-stablished local group. They even told me I could go on a boat! But in my head, that was a big boat, and my work attire of shirt, skirt and boots would do just fine. I may have got my wires crossed, especially when the cadets appeared in their wetsuits with kayaks... but thankfully, there was a spare pair of waterproofs in the boat shed, and yes, they may have been three sizes too big on my miniature frame, but their one and only purpose was to keep me dry.

Thankfully, I was taken aboard something a little bigger than a kayak - the Quicksilver. A motorised dingy, big enough for five or six, and with all important ropes to hang on to (for dear life). My sailing companions - 1st Lt PO Scott Henderson, 12-year-old Rhihanna and Rebecca (15) - were extremely welcoming, and Scott even took it easy - to start with. I even got a shot of driving! All very exciting - and the best news: I stepped back on to stable ground as dry as when I’d stepped off. To see me try out the sea cadet life, watch the video online at fifetoday.co.uk