Natalie Staples

Living aboard a tall ship for 11 days was a completely new experience for 18 year old Jithmal Ranasinghe, who completed the adventure training on Young Endeavour as part of his Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.

The 1st year Bachelor of Biomedical Science student was looking at the Duke of Edinburgh website for Gold Residential Project options.

To meet the requirements of the program, Jith needed to have a unique experience that truly broadened his horizon and challenged his outlook, while learning to work with people who aren’t in his usual peer group towards a common goal.

When he came across Young Endeavour, he knew he’d found the project for him.

“Compared to some of the other options it looked to be the most interesting and it was a good chance to learn to sail and experience being at sea,” Jithmal said.

Entering the ballot for a berth, Jith was stoked when his name came up and he travelled to Newcastle to join 23 other young Australians on a voyage to Brisbane. 

“As we sailed out of Newcastle and watched our first sunset.  At sea there are no lights, so the night sky is incredible,” Jith said.

“As we left harbour, dolphins followed the ship and followed us for a few hours.  At one stage we saw bioluminescent algae and the dolphins were going through it. It was absolutely beautiful.”

On the first night the youth crew were also challenged to climb the 30 metre mast.

“That was a bit daunting for me.  I did it though and it was a great way to help overcome that fear,” Jith said.

On board the special trained Royal Australian Navy staff crew trained the ‘youthies’ how to sail a square rigged tall ship, including how to navigate, keep watch, climb the mast to set and furl sails aloft, cook in the galley and take the helm.

The youth crew also had a digital detox with no phones and social media and were encouraged to explore personal and team goals.

“Aside from sailing we also learnt leadership skills and how to work in a team.  The staffies were so funny and my fellow youthies were great to hang out with.  It was such a great atmosphere,” Jith said.

Once the youth crew had met the challenge of learning to sail the tall ship, they elected a command team who took responsibility for sailing Young Endeavour for 24 hours.

So how did Young Endeavour stack up as a Residential Project for Duke of Edinburgh?

“It exceeded my expectations by miles.  I’m so glad I had a chance to do it and meet all these people from such different walks of life,” Jith said.

Each year Young Endeavour conducts up to 20 voyages along the east and south coasts of Australia between Cairns, Adelaide and Hobart.

 

Young Australians aged 16 to 23 years are able to apply for a berth via a ballot at www.youngendeavour.gov.au.  Voyages can count toward Duke of Edinburgh Residential Projects or Adventurous Journey.