A young Gerringong man recently returned home after a voyage on STS Young Endeavour, sailing from Brisbane to Newcastle with 21 other young Australians from six states and territories.
Christian Avasalu, 23, said the program forced him to try something new and exciting that was outside of his everyday routine.
“I had been meaning to get involved with the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme ever since I was little,” Avasalu said.
“I still have a very clear memory of when the ship came into Ulladulla harbour and my Dad took me on board to have a look, and ever since I wanted to join.
“They only take youth from 16 to 24 years old, and being 23 I knew I didn’t have much time left before I missed out.
“I really just wanted a challenge, and I definitely found that on the journey.”
I still have a very clear memory of when the ship came into Ulladulla harbour and my Dad took me on board to have a look, and ever since I wanted to join.Christian Avasalu
In the last 30 years more than 13,300 young Australians have benefited from the youth development program delivered by Navy crew.
The ship completes around 20 voyages each year.
During each voyage youth crew learn the skills to sail a square-rigged tall ship; including how to navigate, keep watch, cook in the galley, take the helm and climb the 30 metre mast to work aloft, setting and furling sails.
Near the end of the voyage, each youth crew elect a command team who take full responsibility for Young Endeavour for 24 hours, sailing the ship along the Australian coast.
Avasalu said the highlight of the experience, was when command day arrived.
“The sense of achievement you get from being in complete control of a tall ship and its operations after only eight days of experience was phenomenal, and all the youth crew felt that way at the same time,” Avasalu said.
“We also experienced some spectacular coastline and a lot of wildlife. We had three Albatross circling the boat at one point, and I was in awe of them for every second.”
Avasalu had some handy tips to pass onto prospective applicants.
“I would say, number one, definitely bring sea-sick tablets, even if you don’t get sea sick, because you certainly will,” he said.
“And number two, give everything a go. It’s an experience that not many people get to have, and even if you’re scared out of your pants, it’s worth putting in 100 per cent just to be a part of what’s going on around you.”
It appeared the salty air agreed with Avasalu, who said he may set sail on another tall ship.
“They actually give you a little booklet when you disembark with links to all different tall ships around Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
“I can’t say I have any definitive plans but I’d love to see a bit of New Zealand from a new perspective, so I’ll have to try and give that a go.”