Imagine a 45 metre long sailing ship is your home for 10 days. You must share it with 51 strangers- 39 other trainees and 12 crew members. There is one room and one bathroom between 20 girls, and same for the boys. There are no cell phones or iPods, no hair straighteners, no showers, no televisions, Xboxes or PlayStations. This is life on the Spirit.
The Spirit of New Zealand 10-day Youth Development Voyage takes on board 40 trainees from all over New Zealand, an equal mix of males and females, and all total strangers. During the voyage trainees are presented with a number of opportunities to develop as individuals. The value of teamwork becomes very apparent, as does team building skills, co-operation, communication, confidence, tolerance and leadership. During a voyage trainees will learn much about themselves and their ability to become leaders whilst learning about the sea and how to sail a tall ship. They leave with a new set of skills, a huge sense of achievement, loads of new friends and the confidence to take on any new challenge that’s put in front of them.
For the duration of the trip, the trainees are split into 4 different watches with ten people in each. We all have the challenge of being leader of our watch for the day. Friendship, fun and laughter run high as we complete the many features of the programme- tramping trips ashore, learning to sail the luggers, beach cleaning, hoisting and setting the very large and heavy sails, climbing the ratlines to loosen or stow sails 30 metres above the deck and not forgetting the famous dawn swim! The horse shoe shaped cabin at the stern of the boat hosts evening activities such as public speaking, presentations, debates, movies and games.
All the skills we learn during the voyage prepare us for Trainee Day. This happens on the final day of the voyage, when we get to elect our own captain and crew and are completely responsible for setting the sails and navigating the ship safely to its final anchorage within a given time frame. For all onboard this is the absolute highlight of the voyage.
A typical day on board means waking up at 6am. You warm up on deck for morning swim, as there are no showers. After breakfast, you split up into watch groups for cleaning and duties, followed by a briefing of the days plan. Then you prepare to set sail, depending on weather. Morning tea is fresh fruit and a drink. Next could be mini lectures in the after cabin, about knot tying or sailing. Then it’s lunch time, perhaps macaroni and cheese. The ship anchors about 3pm and sails must be tied up for the night. Afternoon tea could be cake or a biscuit. Then, depending on the weather and whereabouts you are, you may go on shore for games and activities, which usually involve the water. Dinner time could be a roast with vegetables and pudding or a barbeque on shore. The trainees then stand the night watch in 2 hour shifts in pairs.
Sharing a confined space for 10 days with 39 other trainees can be difficult at times. We called it 6th day-it is, and if it wasn’t the 6th, it was the 7th for sure. This is when everyone starts to get sick of each other and short tempered. But there was no way to overcome this as you couldn’t just go for a walk or take time out. So we had to learn how to get along with and accept others at all time, this is where tolerance is learnt.
Each year berths are available through school and through the website. So if you think the Spirit Life sounds like you, then don’t just take my word for it, take the opportunity and experience it for yourself.
See Laura Pope, Tayla Marlow, Bradley McFaul, Hope Glover or Anna Maslin if you want to know more about this wonderful opportunity. Mr Kotkamp has the details for anyone wanting to apply for the Spirit of Adventure.