Seth’s Young Endeavour report
MY YOUNG ENDEAVOUR REPORT
BY SETH SHOUBRIDGE
How do you describe the experience of a lifetime? The Young Endeavour was not something I could anticipate a year ago. Everything about that ship and the experiences I had, changed my life for the better. It encouraged me to live my life better. I had tried new things, like a traineeship (which ended badly, but that’s not the point!) and gym. The Young Endeavour, from Gladstone to Brisbane, was a trip you can’t forget due to how much it changes you. The friends you make, the lessons you learn, the rope burn you still feel internally in your soul and so much more, happened because of the ship.
After a 6-hour drive to Gladstone, I saw the Young Endeavour in person. I also saw the fellow sailors I would be joining. I joined in with two other sailors and made friends fast. The ship departed with very happy and paranoid parents waving us goodbye. The ship used motors until we were in the middle of the Gladstone bay. A massive pep talk took place and way too many Dr Seuss quotes were shared by the captain. The sailors/youthies were split into 3 groups and the competition to be the best group begun. We climbed the ropes in complete darkness and that’s how the Young Endeavour got the youthies hearts beating for 11 days. Food was surprisingly amazing, and I wouldn’t mind going back for the food! The beds were very squished with a youthie waking up every morning by swearing as he plummeted his head into a metal pole (no matter what angle he slept in). The first night was over and our adventure has started.
We anchored in Port Curtis where we discovered many new songs and ways to wake up. It is shocking to see how loud music and people hitting their heads on the roof combine into a quick way to wake up. First breakfast on board was better than the normal breakfasts I have on land. Today marked the first victim of sea sickness. We met Salty, a fellow sailor who only appears in the morning briefings for comedic relief to the tired youthies. Today, there was a break down more on the rules, expectations and group activities. Another mark of today was learning the ropes, quite literally. Gloves soon were shown to be a necessity in the following days. A long day of socialising leaves a man tired. Our sleep schedules were written up and we took watches at night to protect the ship. From Gladstone to the seas we went.
On day three, celebrations and spirits were up as the youthies celebrated Red Watch leader, Karly’s Birthday. The youthies’ fatigue didn’t show yet, but night watches had begun. Marcus made another amazing brekkie for the youthies that quickly disappeared – before the morning announcements – where we were told what adventures we would be having today and heard more stories from Salty. We arrived at our first destination, Heron Island, and were quickly encountered by the police, who admired our sails. Each youthie had the chance to snorkel with sharks, stingrays, fishes and get stabbed by a lot of coral. It was amazing that, within only 3 days on the Young Endeavour, we were already having a blast. After Heron Island, and with no casualties to sunburn, Marcus cooked up a massive BBQ on the ship for a sunset dining. The youthies had to do public speaking but, as a catch, they had to be another youthie, so all day we were learning each other’s names, hobbies, families, and etc., to impersonate them for this night’s activity. As Day 3 wrapped up, we had a delicious cake and sang Disney songs. Personally, the cake thing would have been enough to wrap up the night for me.
The food Marcus made never disappointed, and neither did the morning announcements that were always spiced up with something new, like a story or a play performed by the staff. We met “Nana” who looked a lot like the engineer of the ship, but maybe they are just closely related. Nana went around the ship when we were eating breakfasts and picked up all the stuff that was dropped on the floor and gave them back to the youthies. Most of it was from the boys’ quarters, but half the stuff Nana gave back was owned by Jack, aka “The Whale Master”. After our stuff was returned, Nana taught us the songs and dance moves of her youth. This banished everyone’s morning sleepiness, and the day had begun. Harry, our navigator, showed us the tricks of his trade and we learnt about navigating the ships and more general stuff – about the ship – that all came into use when we took over the ship on Command Day. Ivanka, another staff member, opened the “pool” and youthies jumped into the ocean; some doing tricks as they jumped off the ship; some trying to mimic those tricks and doing bellyflops into the ocean; and the rest casually exploring the ship from the ocean. After we cleaned the saltwater off us, Captain Charlie taught us another lesson about how to steer and use the ship when in control. With the sun blazing down on us and our minds full of knowledge, we were excited to use this knowledge at the first chance we got. However, Marcus called us down for lunch and our stomachs were full of salmon and pasta. We set sail for our new destinations, which meant doing night watches again, and I was lucky enough to have the first watch, which meant a decent sleep. The rest of the day we were using our sail knowledge and practising how to put sails up and down. If today marked anything, it was definitely teamwork.
“What happens when you combine nine youths, an unknown challenge, a late night, and remove the staff? An amazingly successful team building exercise, that’s what! The youthies were flung from their comfort zones and managed to climb aloft, while under way, setting and furling the square sail, storm jib and the main gaff topsail for the first time, all the while maintaining watches, without any instruction.” – Captain log, Jess and Percy. Couldn’t put it better myself. The morning went smoothly with another amazing sea and sunrise and our destination was ever closer. We were heading for Lady Musgrave Island. More lessons had begun with amazing staff teaching us the ropes of their trade. We learnt how to avoid a collision which is always useful – even on land. On the way to the new island, we dropped anchor and went swimming in a deeper coral reef where we saw every colour of coral, starfishes, sharks, turtles and just about everything you could see. After snorkelling, there was only one casualty from being stabbed by coral reef and sadly, that was me – in 3 different places: my hand, my foot and my back. Too much exploration for me, I guess. Another BBQ sunset meal and many activities on the ship.
On day 6, the only word to describe the events that happened was: “sickening”. It started with a gentle breeze in the middle of the night on my watch, then it got less gentle and then two thirds of the youthies were dead. Well, not dead, but couldn’t move without vomiting. Before the morning, on my watch, the main sail rigging snapped and after much yelling and going from 8 knots an hour to 3, we fixed it; and that remains one of the most chaotic nights in my life. In that one third who was lucky enough to not be dead, it was split with the perfectly fine and the people who were coming back to life every so often. I was in that one third, but I barely scraped into being in the one third. When I woke up the ship was on quite an angle, and after I tried to eat breakfast, which was half a slice of bread, I climbed the ladder and was immediately embraced with a splash of water and my half-slice of bread coming back up. Not only did I vomit, but I vomited on the wrong side of the ship, which meant the vomit was blasted back by the wind on to my only jumper. When the morning announcements began, all the youthies were on the floor – and a couple were just vomiting. I managed to get on my knees to listen, but I wasn’t that fortunate: I was stuck on the floor for a couple hours, but then I felt better and helped the youthies who weren’t dead for a couple hours. And then, when I managed to catch my breath, I went to sleep in the cabins. I say “sleep”, but it was mostly my head hitting the roof or the side, or my holding on for dear life, as my bed was facing a 200-degree angle.
“The following account is from April and Angus: The wind averaged at 20 knots today compared to roughly 5 knots since the beginning of the voyage. The 3-5 metre swell also came as a shock to youthies as they had become use to waves below half a metre. This caused for the fishes to get a great feed throughout the day. Most of the youthies spent their day hunched over the railings or passed out on deck.” – Captain log, Angus and April. We still remained on course to Noosa Heads, but at a much slower speed than wanted. This was an interesting day of the dead.
Today marked the preparations for Command Day. Today was the election and Day 8: The day. Things settled down a bit and all the youthies were alive. Most were more than alive because of the vomiting and not being able to stand up, and these got catch-up sleep, while the youthies who were in peak health and not affected, remained quite tired but still excited for the new day. We went through all the ropes and did it off-by-heart without any help from the staff. We did many demonstrations on what to do if something went terribly wrong and were given a couple inspirational speeches. The day moved quickly due to the work and games we did on board. Everyone was excited about Command Day. Command Day is where the staff steps down and the youthies are in full control. We fixed the mainsail rigging today and got back to normal speed and stability. We started heading for 2-point Island, which was definitely one of the most scenic places of the entire journey. We elected the leaders after lunch and the results were, Captain – Taylor. Sailmaster – Jack. Navigator – Huon. Watch Officers – Angus, another Angus, and Liz. Watch Leaders – Percy, Jess and Nick. Chefs – Laura, Bundy and Liam O. The rest were split into new watches for tomorrow. As of tomorrow, we were the staff.
After a scenic anchorage at 2-point Island, the youthies woke up with a glare in their eyes. Command Day had truly begun. The staff watched as the youthies did an amazing impersonation of the morning announcements. Captain Taylor’s watch designated roles for everyone and gave moral support with just her presence. Competitions played on the deck between the staff and the youthies were watched with mighty joy. The youthie chefs made amazing meals and the watch leaders were always busy. Navigator Huon managed to get a heartbeat of 120 while sitting down, after 30 minutes of doing nothing but sitting. While routines were running on the ship to make sure the engineering room hadn’t exploded, and what the weather was, Captain Taylor added new routines and every 30 minutes we wrote down the navigator’s heartbeat. I may not be good at biology, but your heartrate shouldn’t be over 100bpms – crossing multiple hours in a row. I was given two tasks on Command Day: the first one was learn how to do a bowline with your eyes closed (which I passed successfully) and making a hammock., stretching from one side of the deck to the other – the catch being, it must hold 27 youthies, without touching the floor. After many complicated plans, we came up with an amazing solution: Get the big ropes, and then tie a lot of knots very tightly, and hope for the best. It worked but it was only a couple centimetres off the ground. 25 tasks were given out that day and all tasks were completed. At the end of the tasks, we all climbed the foremast. The youthies, without any help from the staff, managed to sail the ship with ease across the ocean. “The Whale Master”, aka Jack, summoned a whale almost every hour on Command Day, which made the surreal experience all the better.
The morning had begun with the youthies still in charge: you would think the youthies being in charge would mean a less-aggravating waking-up call, but you would be wrong. I had the joy of a morning watch, so I was climbing up the foremast and trying to get on to a sail to start heaving it up. I’m struggling, trying to get balance, whilst punching the bumps on the sail to make it even – and all I hear is the music the youthie sailmaster put on. First, I heard the laughing from the boys’ cabin of the ship, then I hear mild confusion from the staff and then I heard the morning song. It was an interesting song to start the day off – and the staff was not impressed – but the song by “The Chats” called, “I’m the Best Person in the World, Everyone Else is a Pedo”, but I don’t think it’s supposed to impress adults. By the time I got down from the sails and saw a great sunrise from the ladder on the foremast, our youthies staff made some hefty brekkie. And the morning briefs went with a song, a dramatic play and two very upset youthies dressed up as 1950 Russians.
“As the handover back to Captain Charlie drew closer, we started checking off some of our challenges, including a smashing mural, a rope hammock which would definitely not pass WHS standards (but did support all 27 youthies!), a song of our journey and finally even got the entire youth crew to climb aloft for a photo op. Our Command Day end was celebrated with a gruelling afternoon: after weighing anchor in the glassy Moreton Bay and going ashore to Moreton Island to swim, dine on ice cream and partake in a few splash wars, we returned to the STS to enjoy a cheese board, teak deck BBQ and some pumping tunes.” – Young Endeavour Captain logs. Command Day ended at 1400 and all the youthies climbed up the sails to celebrate. We pulled up to an amazing beach that looked like it came straight from a tourist ad. As we climbed up, I felt eerily disturbed as all the youthies above me started singing Disney songs. I felt my skin crawling away from the sound, and as pictures were taken, and after a grooving one hour of singing for the memories, we went to the beach! The youthies dispersed as they jumped out of the tiny boat that took us to the beach and we marched up to the beach as if we owned it. Then, spontaneously, a youthie’s knee dislocated. The only injury we had on the Young Endeavour journey was on land, so the moral of the story is: never trust land. After an amazing BBQ by Reggie, our lord and saviour of the ship, we handed the ship back to the staff. The youthies looked back on what they had done. Even now, I am still proud of being the leader of the hammock that held 27 youthies – and I only had 2 big ropes and a lot of tiny ropes!
The morning watch weighed anchor at Moreton Island and morning brief, happy hour (daily clean-ups) and daily morning activities went off without a hitch. We entered the Brisbane River at 0930 and the youthies felt down as the journey was coming to end. Even cleaning-up was fun today but, as our destination came closer, so did our excitement leave. During our down times, we met up with the youthie who dislocated his knee and our morale was boosted! Then the staff made us do many activities and our morning attitude was turned upbeat. We departed ashore and had a debrief about our journey by our watch leaders. Then we wondered around the city in our watches. My watch eventually stopped when we found a humble Italian gelato shop, which we soon left, with stomachs full. Then our entire watch ended up in a tree. It was a confusing day. After many debriefs and activities, night was coming. The Young Endeavour held a concert where the youthies and the staff performed skits, comedic bits, and tales of bravery that could only be compared to William Shakespeare and J.K.R Tolkien. Tonight, was an especially fun night. The staff put on a pirate show where all their comedic skits were perfectly delivered. Each watch did a play about a memorable moment. My watch did a play about when the main sail rope broke, but the comedic bit of this play was that it was completely monotoned and each actor (including myself) said everything at the same time. Imagine about 8 youthies – all monotoned – saying “Oh no, the main sail broke. What are we going to do?” and then they just stare at you. That’s what I imagine the staff felt. After a little flute play by our staff member Doughie, I was the last one to go on stage for an individual performance. I got on stage not exactly confident, or as eager as I was when I signed up. I did stand-up, with my speech impediment and thick accent of a Londoner, Italian, Irish and bogan Australian (that I have no
clue how I got). I was happy to see my confidence hiding my incoherent words and everyone understood me. I did a 5-minute stand-up, that was from the top of my head, and I blew it away. Everyone was laughing and some of the older youthies told me that was the funniest stand-up they have seen for a while. I definitely think that is my fondest memory of the Young Endeavour. The night ended with 1-hour watches throughout the night and, of course, I got the graveyard watch. We wrote letters to ourselves, which Cadets will send us in 6 months from the end of Day 11 on the ship. You could easily tell who was happy – and who wasn’t happy – with ending this journey from how they were writing their letter.
We woke up with the taste of freedom and eager to show this ship a good time for our last time. We cleaned the ship thoroughly and morning debriefs were listened to at full attention. We had a disco party in the cabins of our ship and was greeted at the end of the party with the sweet taste of a bacon brekkie. Our last activity on the ship was climbing aloft. We sung Disney songs to our hearts’ content. My heart had quite a lot of contempt for the Disney songs. We waited aloft on the sails for 2 hours as parents showed up. We did some “Oi, Oi, Oi, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie”s on the sails and some “Finding Nemo”,“Mine, Mine, Mine” – with Disney switching back to front. When we got down from the sails, we showed our parents around the ship, and greeted it for the last time. We left the Young Endeavour, but we took some of her spirit along with us.
The lessons learnt on this ship, and the excitement of being on that ship, have inspired me to seek a career with the Australian Defence Force. Though, I know I need to improve on 2 major issues of mine: Organisation and fitness. I think, without the Young Endeavour spirit, I wouldn’t be trying to fix my fitness as I am now; and the “organisation” problem is something I need to sort out myself – but because of the Young Endeavour – I’ve definitely grown confidence and gave my personality some more kicks to mix things up. If I ever get into the Australian Defence Force, as I wish to be in the future, it would be thanks to the Young Endeavour.