Have you ever felt alive and free?

Full of a giddy, wild optimism that makes anything seem possible. A couple of moments have stuck with me – one after a soccer game covered in mud ‘warming down’ with my team laughing around me. But one even more vivid – though it was many years ago now! – climbing aloft in Cairns Harbour at the end of my voyage, light tropical rain in the face and salty air in my lungs.

The nerves were still there as the deck moved further away, but they’d faded to a mere shadow of the fear I’d felt on the first night and been replaced by the complete exuberance of feeling young and free, surrounded by friends and backed by my watch – Nick, Moo, Tom, Jules, Taylor and Tilly – caught in the beauty of that moment and place.

I grew up in the tropics, in Mowbray Valley just outside Port Douglas, and sailing into Cairns was in many ways like going home. It is a stunningly beautiful corner of the world. I love the drenching warm rain and Ponsiana trees covered in red flowers at Christmas. Rock hopping and scrambling up the creek with my cousins, lying on the beach watching the stars and failing asleep to the cacophony of what sounds like thousands of frogs.

I’d moved to Sydney at 17 to start Uni. The first six months were tough, in a way not entirely different to the first days aboard the Young Endeavour. Surrounded by new faces, in a completely different environment, outside the world I’d known with rules I’d learnt to follow. It’s daunting. But it’s that kind of stuff that lets you know what you’re capable of. I’ve never thought of myself as a super ‘people’ person, as a kid I was pretty shy, but aboard the Young Endeavour I made friends faster than I’d ever done before, something about being thrown together like that! It made me realise how far I’d come in the three years since I’d left home and gave me a chance to test and stretch myself.

Be open, trust and not let a fear of failure stop me from stepping up. To support my youthies, back myself and to put myself forward for leadership roles I might not have otherwise. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but I’d go back in a heartbeat. There’s absolutely nothing else like it: to catch the wind and revel in the horizon. And together, just breath it in.

Naomi Stringer