WARNING: This report contains: strong language in the form of ranting and raving and high level clichés. Further viewing of this report may cause some readers to gasp and/or apply for a study tour.
Well this is the bit where I get to tell everyone how good my trip was on the Young Endeavour although, good in this context is a vast understatement, for my voyage from Brisbane to Sydney Harbour was no less than the most amazing experience I have ever had!
Due to my trip being almost completely fully funded, I felt no shame in booking into a classy hotel at Kangaroo point which overlooked the Brisbane river and the magnificent Young Endeavour docked in full view of my tenth floor hotel room. With twenty dollars worth of mini bar and a dinner digesting in my stomach I partook of the last restful night I would have for the next eight nights.
The exhilaration of feeling the ship move away from the pier is almost indescribable as I was unlucky enough to be on a voyage cancelled in January due to plumbing problems, i.e. the dunnies were busted! We were then sent home despite insisting protests that we could defecate over the side! However this time Young Endeavour was in ship-shape and before long she began to sway with the long, easy swells rolling beneath her as we motored out into open sea.
Each day the youth crew was put to work setting and furling sails, cleaning the ship, working in the galley and keeping watch. The youth crew were divided into three watch groups who worked together much of the voyage. A watch was a two or four hour period of time where the watch group on duty would steer the ship, work the sails, check climate data, engines and bilges as well as keep a lookout for vessels and anything else of interest in the surrounding ocean. Occasionally the ocean would serve up some excitement such as dolphins or whales as well as a bit of rough weather! One middle watch I was on had me on the uppermost yard arm at 1am securing sails in howling winds, with the ship pitching and rolling in the rough seas thirty metres below...whoohoo!
By far the most exciting part of the voyage however was command day. Command day is where the staff crew hands the command of the ship over to the 24 youth crew for a period of twenty four hours. The night before the handover the youth crew hold elections to vote in their command team. This team consists of the Captain, Executive Officer (2nd in Command), Navigator, three Watch Leaders and the Chef.
Following our elections on the 3rd of July, I was thrilled to emerge as Captain with an enthusiastic and intelligent command team to work with. Our objectives for the twenty four hours were numerous, the main ones being a series of way points in the form of grid references to sail through and these were dotted around the ocean North East of Sydney. Command day went very well with many objectives completed and many smiling faces despite the exhaustion people were feeling, especially after I ordered "all hands on deck" twice throughout the night to tack the ship! Following command day and just prior to disembarking I was awarded a medal from the Order of Australia Association by the Commanding Officer.
Never have I been presented with such responsibility and challenges, and what was most fulfilling was the knowledge that I had won the respect and confidence of my peers. On top of this was the sheer enjoyment derived from sharing this experience with these people. The crew, both staff and youth crew, were young and full of life, and with so many characters and personalities on board, there was never a dull moment. I have seldom grown such a strong attachment and fondness to a large group of people over a period of time as short as that spent on the Young Endeavour.
The cherry on top of coarse was sailing up Sydney Harbour on a bright, sunny July day in a square rigged sailing ship, just as our ancestors did two centuries ago. Ahh the patriotic pride!
Many thanks must go to Rural Youth Organisation and trip sponsor Tasmanian Alkaloids for sending me on Young Endeavour and I urge those who have read this far into my report to go for it!!! It's a phenomenal experience and its right at your fingertips!