Ambassador Story
18 July 2023

It’s a Choose your Own Adventure

In late March I travelled on the tall ship Young Endeavour, from Geelong to Hobart to Sydney. This was an 11-day journey that changed my life!⁠ Young Endeavour is literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Because they only let you do it once. If I had the choice I would get back on that ship and do it 100 more times. I wouldn’t even skip the seasickness and no sleep, because you have to live through it all to say you did it. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure: you can choose to sit back and watch or you can choose to take every opportunity. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I did know what I wanted to do with this experience.


Yes, I doubted myself, many many times, but both of my amazing white watches were there to share the confusion and to work out our next step. But after this trip, I can say 6 things:


First: I sailed the Bass Strait at the ripe age of 16
I remember waking up at 4 am for my morning watch shift and asking where we were and our captain said Flinders Island. I couldn’t believe that after 3 days of rough seas and no sleep, we had made it to Tasmania. I had never been to Tasmania before then and it was such a beautiful place.


Second: I have worked (kind of) on 4 hours of sleep
Working in watches meant very little sleep, in the first few days, I struggled with sleep deprivation and all I wanted to do was sleep. But by day 5 I could function on little to no sleep.


Third: I have made some lifelong friends
Trauma bonding. That’s all I can say, when you are stuck on a boat with 22 other people for 11 days, you become very close. There is no room for drama, if you have an issue with someone you just need to move on. We learnt so much about each other and we all helped each other to grow.


Forth: I climbed a 30m mast at 2 am
On day 2 everyone had to climb to the top of the mast. I was so scared but I pushed through that. I wasn’t letting anything stop me and with a lot of encouragement from my friends and watch leaders I was able to climb to the top and back down safely. And yet again completing another bucket list experience.


Fith: I sang the hokey pokey and Apple on a Stick at 3 am
Yes, this sounds very strange but try being awake from 2000 (8 pm) to 0000 (midnight) on watch and then going to bed and being woken up at 2030 (2:30 am) for taking the station and not taking till 3030 (3:30 am). I wasn’t having it so myself and 10 other youths sat on the deck of the ship at 3000 (3 am) and played Apple on a Stick and sang hokey pokey. This was by far one of the best memories of this memory-filled trip and something I will always remember.


Sixth: I have had a once-in-a-lifetime experience which has changed my life for the better
⁠1000000%. This whole experience has changed me and my life. Today marks 2 months since I walked aboard a 35-year-old youth leadership and development ship to sail the bass strait (South Pacific Sea) and the South Pacific Ocean. Meet a whole new group of friends, see so many new and amazing things and share so many laughs and memories with strangers from all over Australia.


On April 6th 2023 at 10 am STS Young Endeavour sailed into HMAS Waterhen to dock one final time. All 23 of us youthies sat on the yardarms in our watches singing, yelling and cheering as we looked out for our family waiting to see us. With tears in our eyes, we hugged our family and then each other saying we will stay in contact and see each other again soon. I didn’t know if we would all stay in contact, but I am still in contact with every single person who was on that boat. Every day I reflect on the amazing opportunity I got. I learnt so much about myself and that I can push myself to do anything and I can successfully lead a group of people whether they are older or younger than me. I walked away from Young Endeavour that day with so many new skills and a whole new perspective on life.


Emilie Ray

Voyage V07/23