Voyage binds new friends
Sailing on the Spirit of Adventure builds lasting friendships and self-development, former trainee Jordy Bunt says.
Queen Charlotte College year-13 student Jordy and 39 other 15 to 18-year-old trainees went on a 10-day youth development voyage on the sailing ship Spirit of Adventure from the Bay of Islands to Auckland Harbour in July.
Almost four months later, the group remained good friends and connected with each other via their Voyage 627 Facebook group.
The bond forged on the yacht had a lasting effect on Jordy.
"At the end of the voyage, you know some of the people more than you know your friends back home," he says.
Trainees were split into four watches of 10 and took turns working on various parts of the ship during the sailing.
They played bonding games in their downtime, sharing facts and stories about themselves with the rest of their watch.
"We had no restrictions. We could just be ourselves in front of anyone."
The trainees were forced to face their fears throughout the voyage. Those who were afraid of heights had to climb a mast with a harness attached, and poor swimmers were sent into the ocean with life jackets. All trainees set a list of goals for themselves before the trip. Jordy's was to climb a 12-metre mast, and the experience was one of the highlights for him.
"It was a rainy day, really windy and we had to put the sails away. I was high up on the mid-ship and had to pull up the gallant, a big sail about 30-feet [9m] up.
"I promised myself that I would not vomit, but we were travelling in rough seas one time and there was nothing in my stomach to settle it. I think everyone vomited at least once."
A typical day started with a swim at 6am before breakfast.
"You get used to it. Towards the end, my hair felt nice from the saltwater."
Trainees were put on a rotating roster as "specials" - people who had to get up earlier for their swim before helping the cook make breakfast for the others. Everyone then reported to aft deck, where the captain said where they would sail that day and gave a short history of the area, before the engineer shared a fun fact.
Trainees took their positions at the sails, the anchor was pulled up, ropes tightened and housing work maintained.
Lunch was called at about midday - a favourite was bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.
Afternoons involved group activities, such as travelling ashore on life rafts to go tramping or to clean the beach.
Dinner time featured "a lot of mince" and, once the dishes were cleaned by the specials, the trainees played bonding games.
"I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a bit about themselves and make friends."