After the exertions of yesterday the pace slowed for day three as we conserved energy for the challenge tomorrow.
The day started with more competition as we split up to tackle “command tasks”. These are tests of ingenuity, efficiency and team work designed to highlight a marine’s strengths and probably very important in the military. For us it was another excuse to goad each other, earn bragging rights and play with ropes!
Task one involved a healthy dose of imagination, buckets of volatile liquid surrounded by a moat of molten lava and instruction to get the buckets safely to shore. We had a big pile of kit we could use including ropes, harnesses, carabiners, a hammer and more. Wild theories flew around involving tension lines (like those we’d used for the river crossing except using humans as trees…it would have been a recipe for disaster!) and using twin ropes to try and balance buckets which would have required super-human strength and co-ordination. I’m not saying we don’t possess super-human strength and co-ordination, but with explosive lava now wasn’t the time to find out! I think it was Jaroslav who obviously spent too much time at the funfair as a child and suggested attaching the hammer to the middle of a rope and going fishing for buckets. It took some frantic knot tying, amazing team work and cool heads but we finally lifted out the buckets safely…but it had taken a while. Instructor Sarah hadn’t seen our technique before…so imagine our surprise when the other team had a remarkably similar approach with very little debate! Unsurprisingly they completed the challenge much quicker than us, but it’s difficult to be bitter seeing as imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. (I expect abuse from the other team for that comment!)
Next up was an exercise in trust, communication and not getting blown up! With dangerous landmines (disquised as SQA cones) scattered on the ground, 4 blinded soldiers and one mute one who could see had to find a way to navigate from one side of the minefield to the other. Again the two teams had very similar ideas, using claps and whistles from the sighted member to navigate the blind guys (two claps left, three right, whistle means stop etc). This time though the other team took the brave approach of sending through the whole team as one train. It cost them a man (poor Barry was blown sky high!) but unfortunately we lost one as well when sending them through one at a time. Thanks to the other’s gutsy approach they beat us, but only by 5 seconds! Having lost twice it was all about the final task and salvaging some pride…
Finally we had to build a weapon with a difference. Armed with bamboo canes, string, sellotape and a wooden spoon we had to launch an egg as far as possible…and hopefully catch it at the other end! Up against some very technical minds in the other team we set about the task with great gusto and not much planning, but we all had the same idea. We built a four legged base, roughly sellotaped together then secured badly with string! Next we bound two canes together, taped the spoon on the end and built an ingenious cradle around the bowl of the spoon by layering up sellotape.
We had a few minutes to test our design with tennis balls…and they flew! We were launching a good 10 metres past where the other team were reaching and things were looking good. Even when Sarah snapped our launch canes I wasn’t worried, we had this competition in the bag! We let the others go first, and they managed an impressive 15 metres with their first egg. Barry came very close to catching it with a dramatic dive that owed more to looking good than doing good but was impressive all the same. With a very achievable target set we relocated our machine and prepared for victory.
Sadly our perfect design had one small but fatal flaw. Our expertly crafted egg cradling spoon/sellotape hybrid had been a bit squished by the tennis ball trials. When it came to launching the eggs they stuck in the cradle for far too long and our first effort “flew” a poultry (pun intended) few metres. Spotting the problem Sarah made some clever adjustment to the launch speed and I set up for the all important catch of our last egg.
Nowhere near! Sarah managed 11 metres this time but I was in no position to even attempt a dramatic diving catch like Barry. We were beaten 3- nil, our humiliation was complete. With ten minutes to get kitted up and on the road to head for survival training I was looking forward to learning how to survive alone in the woods until the shame had passed!
The events of the afternoon warrant their own post and soon I’ll be writing up the survival training, which I think everyone was really impressed by and which reinforced just how skilled, drilled and ready to kill our instructors were!
Thanks for reading.