I can confidently say that my adventure on board the Young Endeavour has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life and will be an 11 days that I will cherish forever.

Don’t get me wrong, it was no walk in the park and was in fact the most physically and mentally challenging few days I’ve ever experienced. It’s hard to make the most out of being woken up in the middle of the night for watch duty, feeling sea sick for days on end and copping daily bruises from being thrown about by rough seas, but it’s certainly possible on Young Endeavour.

Sure, it was tough and I was pushed to my absolute limits on several occasions, but that’s what made this experience so great! As a wise staffie once said, it’s often the greatest challenges in life that reap the greatest rewards.

But that’s enough of the bad, now onto the endless list of amazing memories! There’s something extremely special about the friendships you make when living on a tall ship with complete strangers for 11 days. The close confines, shared struggles and delirium from a constant lack of sleep creates a bond like no other. Despite the many challenges we were faced with, we never once failed to provide endless encouragement and support to one another in achieving every one of our goals, and that to me was so heartening and uplifting to see.

And then there were the many other magical experiences on board. From daily sightings of wildlife which included whales, dolphins, seals and dugongs, to watching the most breathtaking and colourful of sunrises and sunsets from 30 metres aloft, or seeing shooting stars fly by our eyes on beautifully clear nights, and of course…the amazing food thanks to Chef Zac!

In addition to these unforgettable memories, I was able to learn so much about myself – the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s easy to forget to self-reflect in our busy lives, so having the chance to do so for 11 days was really eye opening. I certainly valued this time and saw it as an important aspect of the journey which provided me with some great takeaways for life, and helped me identify strengths previously unknown to me, as well as points of improvement to build on.

Most importantly, I would like to take the time acknowledge the incredible staffies – if I had the space, I’d write a 10 page essay on how much I appreciate you all! I have never met a group of people more passionate and dedicated to their work and I can’t thank you enough for all that you did for us on this trip. Thank you for your enduring encouragement and support, and for inspiring us to do better and be better people.

I would strongly recommend anyone and everyone to take on the challenge that the Young Endeavour program provides. It is an incredible youth development program that will teach you so much about yourself and reveal strengths to you that you never knew you had. Make the most out of every opportunity and enjoy the ride. Carpe diem!

Rachael Lee