“This is not a cruise” we were repeatedly reminded. For me and my watch the hard work was fun, yes, it was at times physically and/or mentally demanding, but we wanted to learn anything and everything we could, pull on lines, set and furl the sails and climb the mast. Ok, so I didn’t really want to climb the mast but most of my watch were enthusiastic about that.
V02/17 from Stanley, Tasmania to Geelong, Victoria crossing the big bad Bass. The water itself was not the only challenge we were to face. In my team, “WHITE WATCH WHOOT WHOOT!” the ‘whoot whoot’ always bringing smiles to our faces, we had a number of strengths between us and were really good at helping each other out. Good leadership I have learnt is not about always taking the lead but being able to step back and let others take charge.
I’m going to take you to both my second and second last day. We had to climb aloft. Which means go up the mast. Both masts were 34m high. I am not the greatest with heights, so on my second day when I went up I was going really slow and had my team with me singing Hakuna Mattata to help displace the nerves. We were told by a member of staff to be quiet now because it was important and that’s when the nerves took over. I was shaking and as I got higher I started to cry. Though scared, I kept going, because that’s what I do and that is what I was there to do, get out of my comfort zone. The staff were really supportive and so were my team. There was no judgment for a 23 year old crying her way up the mast. On this day I went to the top, not out on the yard but I was there. My grip was tight and the tears were rolling, but I was up there. The only thing that was truly Store High In Transit about this 'not cruise', was when I came down from the height, I was on a boat, not solid ground.
Fast forward now to the second last day (obviously some further climbing in between). We had to do harbour furls on the square sails. Basically make them look pretty compared to how we furl (put them away) when out at sea. My group leader had won rock paper scissors so she picked the course yard (the lowest one) but after discussion with some other leaders it seemed our group had more confident and able people. To the topgallant sail we went! Right at the top. We had one team member leave us to help the team below as they were a man down. When we climbed up to the top a girl was like “I can’t do it”. She could, and she did. The definition of ‘it’ is dependent on what you are trying to accomplish. For me that day, and her it was about breaking out of our comfort zones. We were all up there as a team. Me? I was a bit further out then I had hoped on the yard… Anyway, we were doing like little t-rex hands to fold the sail up slowly, we all had to have the same amount to fold each time. 1, 2, 3 go! We would lift with both hands and fold a small bit back. “Are you ready?” “No” “Ok, we have to wait for the next wind gust to pass”. Again and again and then the end was near. We could see it. “Are you ready?” “No” “What’s wrong?” The ends of the sails on both sides were slipping in the wrong direction. Let’s blame the wind because it was no individual’s fault. Our group leader made the call that we had to push off the sail and start again. We started again, and with practice comes perfection. Ok it wasn’t perfect, but we definitely a lot better and neater than the first attempt. We were getting near to the end again and could see it. From below we heard “just let it out”. We thought they were talking to us and we (my team) were all ready to jump – connected to a safety line so we wouldn’t go far but you get the gist. This work was exhausting and we had been up there for quite some time. Turns out they were talking to someone below us, phew! Haha. We finished tidying up the sails and made our way down.
How far I came in 11 days was not distance in nautical miles across the sea, nor the height of the mast. It was, as tacky as this sounds, the feelings: Of knowledge, I probably won’t be getting the chance to say the term hydrostatic release unit in my everyday conversations but it was part of my learning on board (and actually it is a really cleverly designed device). My resilience has been strengthened, friendships have been formed and just generally learning what I am capable of doing in a different and challenging environment. For me, on the final day when we came in, we all were up the mast and on the yards, I was as high as you could go, singing loud and proud not a tear in sight. That was the feeling of accomplishment.
I hope this resilience and eagerness to learn continues into my uni studies! "Don't stop believing! Hold on to the feeling!" I am looking forward to the promotional procrastination that being a Young Endeavour Ambassador will enable me to do :)
Ciao for now!