Local 18 year old Kelly Butler enjoyed the experience of a lifetime aboard the STS Young Endeavour. Chrissy Jones chatted with Kelly about her voyage …
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to join the crew on the STS Young Endeavour?
I graduated Newman Senior Technical College in 2017 with the career goal to become an adventure tourism guide. I’ve always had a true love and passion for the ocean and the amazing creatures we share it with. I’ve always felt more at home in the ocean than on land.
Whilst at Newman College, I had the opportunity to get my boat licence and was then able to drive the boats the school owned, including a small motor boat and the sailing ship, which is named the Xlcr. Whilst studying marine studies at school, I ranked first in the year and was then nominated by my teachers for the Young Endeavour award, which I was given at our formal. Having no knowledge prior about getting the award, when I was granted this incredible opportunity I broke into tears, knowing how amazing the Young Endeavour was.
Every year at Newman College, the Young Endeavour award is sponsored by Brett and Nellie Scott. They choose to make this generous donation, as they understand how truly life changing the experience is. So thanks to Newman College and Brett and Nellie, I was able to go on the Young Endeavour. I am truly so grateful for everyone involved in making this possible for me.
Can anyone join the crew?
Sadly no; there are some restrictions that the Young Endeavour has in their guidelines. You must be between the ages of 16 and 23, be an Australian citizen or have present residency, weigh less than 120 kg, be able to swim 50 m and be in good health.
There are certain medical conditions, including some controlled by medication, which exclude participation. Some of these include epilepsy, depression and other illnesses or diseases. If someone was uncertain about their eligibility, they are able to check the website for further details. With that being said, I strongly suggest anybody who falls under the criteria to apply for the opportunity to meet new unbelievable people, learn skills that cater to all areas of life and truly have the most fun you could ever dream of, as that’s what this whole experience is all about.
The STS Young Endeavour is an Australian tall ship that was given to Australia by the British government in 1988, as a gift to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary of colonisation. What was she like to live on, and how long was your stay?
Words can not begin to describe how truly amazing living on the ship was. It is honestly a life changing experience I will never forget. She is like true magic; the people I was with, even after only a day of knowing them, felt like family. The hard work we put in felt so rewarding. Watching the sunrise and sunset each day … my goodness, they would leave you speechless. It was true beauty; I can’t even count the amount of times we saw breaching whales swimming by us.
Each day we would wake up, have breakfast in the galley, get dressed and ready for the day. Some mornings before breakfast we would put on our swimmers and jump off the bow sprit of the ship and go for a morning swim. We would then continue our day going to the morning brief held on the bridge. Once it concluded, we would do a happy hour of cleaning. As we left for our cleaning stations, we would all sing “happy hour happy hour happy happy happy hour woooooo!” just to get us all pumped for the day.
Some days we would be sailing at sea all day; other days we would stop by land and visit the islands. While I was aboard we stopped at Fitzroy, Magnetic and Dunk Island. At all of the islands we stopped at, we would enjoy getting a frothy coffee, explore, swim and often do team building exercises, which were always loads of fun! These team building exercises would inevitably bring us closer together as the family we had already formed.
Being on the ship made me realise a lot I had never noticed before. I saw how I lead a team, also how I am as a team member. I saw my strengths and weaknesses, which became evident in this environment. I grew a lot as a person and gained a confidence in myself I’d never had before. I learnt how far I could push myself mentally and physically. By the end of each day I was exhausted; we had just enough sleep to power our bodies, and then we we would keep going.
At first, living on the ship took a bit of getting used to. Sleeping in a small bunk bed and sharing a bathroom with six other girls, eating meals in a small dining area and preparing meals in a small galley. Everything was amazing, but of course took time adjusting to. After a few days though, the ship felt like home.
I was on the ship for a total of 10 days, and I wished I could have stayed longer, even though I was exhausted. The people on there, even though I had only known them 10 days, it felt as though I had known them my whole life. They will be friends I carry with me for the rest of my life.
How did you apply to get on board the ship?
I didn’t actually apply to get on the Young Endeavour ship. My teachers at Newman College had told me about the ship and how amazing it was. I would go on to do further research and decided I would apply once I had finished school. However, at Newman College they provide a scholarship for the Young Endeavour sponsored by Brett and Nellie Scott. At my formal in November 2017, I won the scholarship to be a part of the Young Endeavour, which paid for my voyage. After my formal, I talked with Brett and Nellie, and they gave me the information on how to pick which voyage I wanted to go on.
On the other hand, many of the people I sailed with had gone to the Young Endeavour website and applied by making an account, filling out information about themselves in which the applicants then go through a selection process. If picked, they will choose a selection of voyages they would like to go on, and the Young Endeavour will follow up with an email detailing which voyage the person can go on.
Did you need to know anything about sailing?
I had no prior knowledge about sailing before boarding the Young Endeavour.
You would definitely want to have an interest in sailing, however.
Why did you want to go aboard?
I wanted to go aboard the Young Endeavour because I love to adventure and have a true love for the ocean and a fascination of boating. I also wanted to learn more about leadership and meet people who had similar interests to me.
Some tasks you performed were …
While at sea we would have a watch team at the bridge keeping lookout for anything in sight and report it to either the watch leader or navigator. In the watch group we would also take turns at steering, setting sails and doing rounds of the ship. This involved checking the engine room, measuring water and air temperature and analysing direction of the wind and size of the swell. We would rotate watches frequently between the three watch groups, which were named Red, White and Blue.
When at anchor, we would do a similar watch, but we would be in smaller groups and do shorter watches of two hours each, instead of four hours. While on anchor watch we could keep an eye of the radar, wind, check and record the position of the anchor and record water and air temperature.
During the day with the staff, we would practice our navigation skills and take turns at figuring out the best way to get to our destination. Also, the staff would test us to figure out our current location using landmarks surrounding us.
Throughout the day we set sails with all three watches and before everyone went to dinner and bed, we would all get the sails ready for the night. During the night only one watch would be on, and they would change small sails depending on the direction of the wind.
Every day we would have three people go down to the galley before each meal time to help with food preparation, serving and cleaning.
What did you learn whilst on the ship?
Whilst on the ship I learnt so much about sailing. Setting sails, wind angles, working of a ship, teamwork and communication. I also learnt a lot about myself as an individual. I learnt about how I can lead better in a team, how I can be a better team member and friend. I learnt how people see me. I was given a different perspective of myself, which is something I’m truly grateful for! I also gained a new confidence and became comfortable being me. This brought forth a new lifelong ideology of not trying to follow other people’s dreams, but following my own. I grew as a person and found my voice and who I truly am on the inside.
Did the adventure test you? If so, what were some of the challenges?
I think this adventure really did test me; it got me out of my comfort zone and made me work physically and mentally so hard. Some of the challenges I faced were as simple as just climbing to the top of the sails, which to some people sounds fun and easy, but I found it quite daunting. I learnt to conquer my fear, to push past it and when I did that, I loved it! Physically I pushed my body harder than I have ever before. Heaving in sails and climbing the sails multiple times a day really forced me to believe in my physical ability. When it came to the mental side of things, I always held in; I was finally able to let go while on the sea, thanks to my amazing friends and staff members on the ship.
Where did you sail from and to?
I sailed from Airlie Beach to Cairns then stopped at Fitzroy, Magnetic and Dunk Islands along the way whilst on the ship.
Would you recommend the voyage?
I couldn’t recommend this voyage enough. The staff are amazing, the ship is incredible, the people you meet are unbelievable, and the things you learn about the ship are truly fascinating. I believe it’s the best youth program Australia has to offer. Going on the Young Endeavour is a experience of a lifetime and is something that will always stay with me. This opportunity has changed my life forever.