Adventure. Something that a lot of people seek for in their lifetime, but whether they attain it or not is dependent on how willing they are to grab opportunities when they come available.
Imagine sailing a ship across a vast expansion of blue with no land in sight. Imagine watching dolphins and seals dance around in the ocean right in front of you. Imagine climbing to the very top of the mast and watching the sun rise with newly found friends.
If that doesn’t make you want to go on the Young Endeavour, I don’t know what will! I’ll just talk about my voyage instead then …
In a nutshell, STS Young Endeavour is a tall ship that sees 24 young Australians, aged 16-23, embark on 11 day voyages around Australia. During this time, you not only learn how to sail the ship, you learn navigation, steering at the helm and even cooking in the galley (kitchen for all you land lovers) as well. A huge element of the program is team work and leadership. Here, you are thrown into a foreign environment with a group of perfect strangers; all different ages, all different backgrounds. With these strangers you must learn the art of communal living, and eventually sailing the ship with only your mates to rely on. Sound fun right?
The voyage that I went on saw us travel from Hobart, up the scenic and remote west coast of Tasmania, before finally berthing in the bustling city of Melbourne. Although each trip differs in terms of weather and destinations, you can always expect breathtaking views, sensational sunrises/sunsets, fantastic staff and a bunch of bright young Australians with whom you will grow quite close to in these challenging conditions.
The first few days were spent getting to know one another with ice breakers and team building exercises, as well as learning the ropes of the ship – literally and figuratively. Although they’re not actually called “ropes”, but rather sheets and furling lines, but that’s getting a bit technical. But hey, just goes to show you do learn stuff!!! Anyway, the youth crew are split into three watches – red watch, blue watch, and the best one, white watch.
So that brings me to the topic of watches! In order for the ship not to crash, the crew perform around the clock watches where you keep lookouts, steer and set or furl the sails if you need. You perform 4 hour watches and the times are as follows – 8pm - 12am, 12am – 4am and 4am – 8am. For those of you that are thinking, “but Tully I don’t want to get up at 3:30 in the morning, I need my beauty sleep.” Trust me, once you are up there with the sea breeze on your face, wind in your hair and watching the sunrise with your mates, you’ll never feel more alive.
Another perk of sailing is that you get to enter places that are extremely remote and hard to access. We had the privilege of going to Port Davey and King Island – two places on the West Coast of Tassie that are quite isolated, which lucky for us is synonymous for pristine and picturesque. Port Davey especially is very secluded. We had the pleasure to get off and stretch our legs in the gorgeous surrounds, and even managed to climb a nearby peak! At King Island we got the chance to feast on some delicious cheese ( my heaven ) and even bought some to share with our friends and family when we got off. King Island cheese from King Island? Doesn’t get more authentic than that.
One of the biggest highlights of the trip for me was Command Day. Command Day is when the youth Crew take control of the ship for a 24 hour period. The staff gave us a list of roughly 25 tasks to complete – some were navigational instructions, and others were fun and challenging tasks like “build a hammock that fits the whole youth crew on it”. It was an extremely exciting and exhausting day, and at the end when your hands were blistered and sore from setting and furling the sails in a short period of time, looking back and realising what you and your team have achieved, well it was extremely satisfying to say the least.
And no, it wasn’t all “smooth sailing” the entire trip. It was freezing cold most of the time, we had 7m swell with water rushing onto the deck and 50 knot winds at one point. You get knocked and thrown about below deck, get bruised and battered from flying into the table while you are trying to do happy hour (cleaning time). Then try showering and sleeping in these conditions! Near impossible. Not to mention getting minimal sleep and then waking up in the early am to do your watch. And sea sickness? Mmhm, yep I can tick hurling my guts up off the side of a ship off of my bucket list. But you know what? Everyone is going through the exact same thing, and I can say first hand that these difficulties were a real bonding experience. It was an adventure, not a cruise, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I have never laughed so hard during a morning brief or had better tasting food away from home. I have also never met a lovelier network of staff who love their jobs more than these guys do, and it really shows off with how enjoyable the trip is. There are so many other amazing things that happened on the voyage that I could write about, but you would be reading for hours if I did!
This experience is without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done. I would go through the seasickness, 1am wakeups and general exhaustion all over again. If you’re looking for an adventure with memories that will last a lifetime, I cannot recommend Young Endeavour enough.