I have had the privilege of sailing on the Young Endeavour twice: the first time was way back in 2004 and the second was in 2015 as part of the second World Voyage. Both times I left with fantastic memories, a great sense of achievement and a little bit of sadness that it was over.
The program is challenging and can put you far beyond your comfort zone. If you like your sleep (like me), then getting up in the middle of the night and staying awake for the next four hours isn’t the easiest thing to do. Or having to climb up one of the masts to set or furl sails when you’re cold, maybe not feeling 100 per cent and wondering why you ever decided that entering the ballot and accepting the berth offered was a good idea.
But it’s all worth it when you realise that maybe you can live for 10 days without technology; that the rest of your Watch is probably wondering and feeling exactly the same as you; and that you’re all required to make this fantastic little ship sail even one nautical mile.
Stepping aboard the Young Endeavour for the World Voyage was very different in some ways, but in many others very much the same. And I think it’s for this reason that so many of us returnees keep coming back again and again every time we get a chance.
This time we were allowed to keep our technology – although whether you were able to get reception in the middle of the Mediterranean was another matter. And halfway through I learned exactly why you needed to ensure that belongings were securely stowed to avoid becoming a flying missile when tacking. But we still operated on a watch system, still endured “happy hour” and helped out in the galley.
It was only after I stepped off the Young Endeavour in Southampton that I realised how much of a unique experience it had been and that I may never experience something quite like it again, from witnessing the Dawn Service at Anzac Cover to flying up the coast of France driven only by the wind in the sails.
So I’d definitely encourage any Young Australian thinking about applying for a voyage with the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme to go for it. You won’t regret it.