Ambassador Story
24 March 2023

The Voyage Of A Lifetime

The moment I stepped aboard STS Young Endeavour, I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces, a new and different environment and an uncertainty about the next 10 days ahead. As soon as the lines cast off, and the ship began moving away from the pier and Sydney was growing smaller behind us, the first activities of my voyage began, and the most memorable of which is meeting my fellow Youthies.

A contagious, positive energy was flowing and just as if we all had been friends before, laughter and bustling conversation soon came about, as did the seasickness and our sea legs, or lack thereof. As the sun set on our first day, and as we sailed past Port Kembla, we were broken up into our watches, for me this was Red Watch, and were called to dinner. To me, it became apparent that life at seas was going to be different, and this was evident by my extreme lack of balance. Soon afterwards, it was time for bed, and after stowing my kit in the small locker provided, I manoeuvred myself into my rack, driving off to sleep with the rocking of the sea.

By the next morning, Wakey Wakey was piped and we assembled at Midships, shivering, but alert. After a quick game, and breakfast, we adorned our harnesses and began to climb aloft. Being the first Youthie to put their hand up, nervously and reluctantly, I placed my hand onto the rat lines and began to climb. With the guidance of the incredible Staffies, before I even knew it, I was standing at the top of the Foremast, peering over Jarvis Bay. The memory of an eagle gliding overhead is forever etched into my memory. After lunch, as part of team bonding, we were permitted to go for a swim. For me, this was jumping off the Bowsprit. Seeing the ship from this perspective was nothing short of amazing, and brought all of the Youthies together.

Throughout the next 3 days, comprehensive lessons took place, teaching us about ship handling, setting and furling sails, navigation, teamwork, safety and communication. This was fitting as by this stage, we had adjusted to life at sea and for myself, I had overcome my seasickness and balance issues. In the early morning of Day 5, a leadership exercise was conducted where the Storm Jib needed to be set, and no guidance was provided by Staffies. We accomplished this, but it proved many shortcomings. We were getting used to taking Watch, which for me, was at all times throughout the day.

On Day 4, I was tasked with Morning Watch, from 00:00 – 04:00. Staying awake would’ve been impossible, had I not had my fellow Youthies to keep me entertained, and vice-versa. The camaraderie and companionship was outstanding. The next morning, I was placed on Cook Duty, were I had to serve breakfast and wash the dishes. Working in such a confined space was challenging, but determination and adaptability prevailed! In other words, I had found my sea legs. This was evermore surprising as travelling though the Bass Strait is known to be unforgiving. As the weather got rough, we were informed that a decision was made to seek refuge in Sealers Cove, at the southern tip of Victoria.

After a challenging 3 nights at anchor, a weather window had opened, and we set sail for Port Phillip Bay. We were quite rusty, to say the least, but with teamwork, we were a formidable force. By Day 7, elections were underway and by that evening, we had our team for Command Day. Although it was daunting, and proved to be challenging, we were on course on track for Melbourne. Towards the end of the voyage, we had discussions and made plans for speeches, videos, slideshows and ideas for our final night.

As we sailed into Geelong, coming to anchor, we had Pizza for dinner, which was just as delicious as every meal for the previous 10 days, and later into the night, a disco was held. Afterwards, when everything began to quiet down, I had a ponder, alone, watching the sunset sitting on a bollard on the bow. I thought “I truly never could’ve imagined such a life changing voyage”. I felt complete.


Benjamin Bilek

Voyage V13/22