By line: Natalie Staples

Olivia Humphreys needed a bit of a break from her medical engineering degree at QUT.  When Young Endeavour appeared in the her Facebook feed, the 19 year old Ashgrove teen decided to start her gap year with an 11-day tall ship adventure.

“I always knew that I wanted a year to explore and get a bit more life experience.  When Young Endeavour popped up, thought it was a great way to kick start my gap year.”

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

Stepping aboard Olivia had to go on a digital detox, with no phone or Wi-Fi allowed.

“I was very excited and very nervous about not having contact with friends and family for 11 days, but it was a lot easier than I expected.”

“On Young Endeavour it is go, go, go all the time and you’re so distracted being in a new environment,” Olivia said.

“Everyone got to know each other pretty fast and by the end we became like a big family.  I didn’t even take a book, which was great as I was a lot more social.”

On board the special trained staff crew trained the ‘youthies’ how to sail a square rigged tall ship, including how to navigate, keep watch, climb the 30 metre mast to set and furl sails, cook in the galley and take the helm.

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

“I was elected a watch leader on command day, which was pretty fun and taught me a lot.”

“Aside from learning how to sail, it really helped develop my leadership skills and confidence,” Olivia said.

In addition to developing new skills, participants also get to explore hard to reach islands and beaches off the coast.

“We went snorkelling off Tangalooma which was amazing, I saw a brown and white spotted shark and another youthie apparently swam with a turtle,” Olivia said.

“In 20 years I’ll have some pretty stand out memories.  All of the youthies aloft on the mast, that was pretty awesome.  Also getting up at 3am with everyone to tack the ship in our pyjamas, with the YMCA song blasting over the speakers to wake everyone up.”

“Young Endeavour was definitely the life experience I was looking for.  It has been an excellent start to my gap year,” Olivia said.

The next stop on Olivia’s gap year adventure will take her to Mount Buller where she has just signed a contract to work in a ski in and ski out café and plans to learn how to snowboard.

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