I was fortunate to sail onboard the STS Young Endeavour as a world voyager on the voyage O5/15a, from Southhampton to Aalborg, Denmark. The voyage started on 12th and finished on the 31st of July. The voyage has been the most transformative and amazing experience of my life.
One day whilst applying for research grants, a link on the university portal appeared for the Cowan Young Endeavour Grant. I have always had a strong passion for adventure and as soon as I read about the opportunity to sail onboard YE, I knew that this was an opportunity of a lifetime.
I was so busy in my final year that I basically forgot about applying for the grant. One day I was waist deep in mud and in the pouring rain doing an invertebrate survey when I received this call from an unknown number. The guy on the other line told me I was a successful grant applicant and said, "pack your bags, you are going to London". Before I knew it I was boarding a plane to London and preparing myself for a life defining voyage. A few days later I was sitting on the topgallant looking over South Hampton, still in disbelief about the journey that was about to begin.
I can remember each moment of the voyage like it was yesterday and there was so many highlights. From being sea sick and vomiting all the way down the Solent River, from sailing across the North Sea with some of the best friends and most inspiring people I have ever met. We sailed past the White Cliffs of Dover, up The River Thames and had a formal reception at Trinity House London. We sailed around the east of the UK, to Lowestoft, where STS YE was built and then across the North Sea to Norway. We then joined the international tall ship races and partook in a large festival with over 90 tallships.
Everything onboard was amazing, learning a plethora of new skills, making new friends for life and the long chats over watch, working aloft, everyday watching sunset and sunrise in the middle of the sea. All of these things are the richest memories of my life. The coolest skill I learnt that I still cherish today was how to navigate by the stars in the Northern Hemisphere.
However there was event on this journey that changed my life forever (other than all the amazing sailing and making great friends) and it was finding an Australian plant on a local hiking tracking in Norway. I was shocked but inspired, so I went on a journey of discovery to find out why the plant was there and this inspired me to write about plants and their migration around the world.
When I returned to Australia, I discussed the idea with a colleague and in 2016 I received a New Colombo Plan Scholarship, Australia's most prestigious scholarship for university students allowing me to live in Fiji and write about plants and ecosystem change in the Indo-Pacific. When completing my work in Fiji, I was awarded the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Director (ACEDD) scholarship and the University of South Australia Honours Medal for the division of Information Technology, Engineering and Environment. Since returning to Australia, I have shared my story of how my voyage onboard the STS Young Endeavour changed my life at public talks at the Australian Plant Society and at a seminar series at the University of South Australia. Likewise, my story has been featured in University of South Australia and Playford City Council magazines. Late last year I was informed by a friend that attended the seminar series, he was inspired to sail onboard YE and sailed on the voyage from Darwin to Broome. Now I will take any opportunity to talk about STS Young Endeavour as I travel the world and how it has given me the confidence to live my dreams.
I also joined a crew at the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron, so I can continue to sail!