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Inaugural Youth Sector Voyage on the Spirit of New Zealand

Over Queen’s Birthday weekend the ‘Spirit of Adventure Trust’ held a 2-day sailing for those involved with youth. This was the first time this type of sailing had been offered and drew teachers from as far south as Gore to Orewa in the north.

Feeling well out of my comfort zone, I joined 29 others on board the Spirit of New Zealand for a weekend of adventure and new experiences. Once on board, we settled into our cabin, which I shared with 20 others. My space was a middle tarpaulin bunk (with no headroom) and a small drawer. Once everyone was on board we were broken into watches (sailing stations) for the weekend. That night we motored out to Calypso Bay, Motuihe.

As the goal for the weekend was to give us an insight to the life of a student (Trainee) on a ten-day voyage, we were woken at 6.30am for an early morning swim – which I passed on. After a hearty breakfast, colours (raising the flag and notices for the day) and duties it was time to hoist the sails. With the sails set we headed off to Waiheke. The wind kept picking up and soon we were sailing in 40 knots. Conditions on deck were difficult, the bow of the boat was launching off the tops of waves and crashing down aggressively. We were constantly pulling on ropes and it wasn’t long before we had to reef the sails.  We anchored in Man-o-war bay in time for lunch.

Saturday afternoon was spent learning some sailing skills, from knots to engine maintenance and climbing the mast. After dinner, we had a bit of downtime with many of us opting to have a games night. Sunday morning saw us wake to a beautiful sunrise. A great backdrop for that early morning swim. After colours and duties, we were back on the sails getting ready to sail back up to Motuihe. Sailing was definitely quite a bit smoother with the wind ranging between 25-30 knots. During the sail back I got to spend a bit of time at the helm steering the boat.

After lunch and a thorough clean of the boat, many of my crewmates went for a swim off the yardstick while I harnessed up and went out on the bowsprit. Before we knew it, it was time to head on home. Just out of Motuihe we started getting squalls of 25 knots, with plumes of spray coming over the sides at us. As we headed into Auckland we changed tack and sailed under the Auckland Harbor Bridge.

Next, we were dockside saying our goodbyes and remarking what a wonderful opportunity we had all had. I fully understand why students come away with such a change of outlook, and if you ever get the opportunity to sail on the Spirit of New Zealand don’t think twice – Just Do It!

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