During the October holidays, we had the great privilege of participating in the Windeward Bound Youth Leadership Challenge. The Windeward Bound sail training vessel is a 33-metre-long wooden brigantine ship, launched in 1996 but based on the plans of an 1848 schooner from Boston. Each year, the ship hosts a Youth Leadership Challenge, bringing a group of youths aged 14-17 together for a voyage of a lifetime.

On 5 October, eighteen different kids from all walks of life arrived in Devonport. Our fellow crew members hailed from all over the state, country, and world, including Hobart and Launceston, Queensland, Denmark, and the Philippines. At the beginning, we knew no one, apart from the familiar faces from school. But very quickly, we made close friendships, which only strengthened over time. By the end, our watches were little 鈥渇amilies鈥.

The journey gave us a lot of resilience and an opportunity to step out of our comfort zone, as we constantly faced uncomfortable situations we wouldn鈥檛 normally face: hauling ropes, being woken up early, doing dishes for thirty people, commands being yelled at you, and of course, being seasick. But we realise now that this was all part of the fun and the experience. With no devices to connect us to the outside world, we had to come up with anything to cure our boredom. This included many activities such as journalling, brushing up on knots, making our own jokes, chatting with one another, and becoming 鈥減ortable jukeboxes鈥. Our fantastic chef, Kate, made marvellous food and gave even better hugs.

There were so many hilarious and unforgettable moments, from little jokes and funny nicknames to seeing dolphins dance around the boat, glowing in bioluminescent algae, and watching the sunrise with the sails rustling in the wind. Relatively few people can say that they climbed the mast of a tall ship to furl the upper tops鈥檒. Before we left, the words in our training manuals seemed like a different language 鈥 鈥済askets鈥, 鈥渇lying jibs鈥, 鈥渢鈥檊allant鈥 and 鈥渂untlines鈥 鈥 but we found ourselves fluent only a few days in.

After eleven days at sea, we were all waiting for the day we sailed into Hobart, meeting our families and finally being on stable ground again. But as we pulled into the Derwent, many of us were a little disheartened by the fact that this journey had to end. Ten days had felt like months, but all of a sudden, it was disappearing far too quickly. However, the stories and friendships we made onboard will stay with us for many years to come.

By Students: Brandon Fell, Xander Power, Elizabeth Ettlin, Eva Smith and Olivia Jones