Katelyn sails away

IGS student Katelyn Clarke started Year 12 all at sea, in the Young Endeavour.

Starting Year 12 is a momentous occasion in any student’s life. It is an exciting adventure that is often embarked upon with equal measure of anticipation and trepidation.

Imagine then starting Year 12 at sea… That’s exactly what Year 12 student Katelyn Clarke did earlier this year. Here’s what Katelyn had to say about starting Year 12 while participating in the Australian Navy’s Young Endeavour Youth Scheme:

“Late last year, I had begun to come to terms with the idea that Year 12 would probably be one of the most stressful years of my life,” Katelyn said. “A year where dreams came to die and any chance of fun would be sacrificed for study (excuse my dramatics).

“I never dreamed that I’d be starting Year 12 in the middle of the ocean, on a traditional sailing ship, with 21 young people I had never met – in Tasmania, of all places.

“Some time ago I had been searching for adventures online, and came across the Young Endeavour Youth scheme, run by the Australian Navy.

“It looked like an amazing opportunity, so I put my name on the ballot and was shocked when I was contacted just before Christmas with an offer to sail from Hobart for 11 days from 29 January. The only problem was that this meant missing the entire first week of my final year of school.

‘I reached out to my IGS teachers, who backed me 100 per cent, seeing this as a life-changing opportunity.”They were absolutely right. The experience challenged me, allowed me to develop my skills and ultimately, I feel, made me a better person. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone daily, developed my leadership and teamwork abilities and made incredibly special (hopefully lifelong!) bonds with people of all different ages, from all over Australia and from all walks of life.

“While it certainly felt like it at times, it wasn’t just a coastal holiday. We spent each day learning how to sail the ship and setting and furling different sails – sometimes in the middle of the night. I started the trip thinking that the ‘sheets’ were the sails and ended it a semi-confident sailor!

“We battled 30-knot winds, the Tasmanian chill, sleep deprivation after four-hour watch shifts in the middle of the night, a boat that tipped on angles of over 30 degrees, sunburn, windburn and rope burn – but that simply made it all the more thrilling. And perhaps the greatest challenge was that we had to give our mobile phones in on Day 1 and didn’t get them back until disembarking!

“Our skills were put to the test on ‘Command Day’, when we Youthies had to man the ship by ourselves, managing each aspect of sailing, from navigation to cooking. Ultimately, it was a success – the Young Endeavour is still in one piece – but it was tough work, involving more conflict resolution than we expected, and we had even greater respect for the Staffies by the end of it.

“Surrounded by the most magical scenery and the most amazing people, we had so many special moments. Sitting out on the bow sprit with my whole watch (group), enjoying a breath-taking sunset while the waves pushed us up and down like on a rollercoaster was truly incredible.

“Another favourite was our many sunset and sunrise climbs up the 30-metre foremast and 33-metre mainmast. You can’t get a better view than up there! An array of animals kept us company, including seals and albatrosses, with dolphins riding alongside us in our waves for most of the trip, entertaining us with their acrobatics.

“We travelled along the stunning Tasmanian coast, visiting beautiful locations including Tasman Island, Port Davey and Wineglass Bay, where we were lucky enough to go ashore for a few hikes.

“Returning to Tasmania after our SAGE trip last year, it was especially exciting to see the Three Capes from the sea.

“I would highly recommend this experience to anyone. It is open to anyone aged 16 to 23 and is truly a life-changing experience.”

You can find out more at https://youngendeavour.gov.au/