Have you ever had a moment where you just know that what is happening to you right now is something that you will be telling your grandchildren about when you’re old and grey? My voyage on Young Endeavour was exactly that – a non-stop moment of realisation that I will be telling stories of this adventure for as long as I live. In just eleven days, everything had changed.

I remember the morning prior to boarding the STS Young Endeavour with perfect clarity; although there was a lot of excitement running through my veins, there was an ever-present anxiety and fear. Going on an eleven-day voyage with a group of people I had never met, the prospective of fighting seasickness, and battling my fear of heights; I knew that many challenges awaited me as soon as I stepped on board. And I can confidently say, that with the help of the other youth crew members and invaluable staff members, each one of us on board were able to conquer each and every trial that came our way.

On our first full day on board, we were all required to climb to the topgallant yard, which is over 30m up! Others and I were all apprehensive to climb to that height, however, by the end of the day, all of us had reached the top with the strong encouragement of our fellow youth crew and staff members. Seasickness was also a common adversary in the first few days, one that I was lucky enough to not have to face. Although I will say that nothing builds bonds faster than spending time with your seasick friend curled up near the railing and offering spare seasick tablets! Well, doing the ‘guts’ night watch (0001 to 0400) in the pouring rain and howling wind with your watch group definitely comes close. Even though we were strangers when we first met, over those eleven days, we all formed bonds of friendship and lifted each other up to face our fears, and in doing so, we made some memories that we will always hold onto.

With my Young Endeavour friends, I sat out on a bowsprit on a brigantine, watching the waves crash underneath me and saw dolphins swim around below us, even performing a few jumps right by our side. I snorkelled shipwrecks with them off Moreton Island and swam with the schools of fish (and a turtle!) that made their home there. I woke up in the dead of the night in the rain and the wind and took the helm of a tall ship. For someone who was quite nervous around heights when he first came on board, having to climb up the mainmast at midnight to help tie up a sail was a changing experience. I remember being perched up there, hanging off the foothold with one leg and arm whilst bearhugging the sail in with my other arm and leg so that my fellow youthie could tie it up, and I looked up at the stars and thought ‘Wow, it is midnight and I am hanging off of a mast on a tall ship tying in a sail under a sea of stars. This is beyond description’.

And that is what Young Endeavour is: beyond description. I have told and retold my stories from that voyage to anyone that will listen to me, and my telling still doesn’t get close to the experience itself. Young Endeavour will challenge you, push you, teach you and reward you in ways that nothing I have encountered on land can. You will make lifelong friends, overcome fears, and become a more confident, strong individual and leader.

So if you are reading this and thinking about applying, waste no time and do it now – this will be a story that you will want to tell your grandkids.

Harrigan Ryan