On Thursday morning at 0800 hours, 16 eager sailors in matching shirts set off from Robina station for what was sure to be a whale of a time. 14 hours of card games, dancing and many hot pies later, the tired crew arrived at Rosslyn bay, Rockhampton.
We boarded our vessel and home for the next four days - the beautiful “South Passage”. After being assigned bunks, watches and watch leaders, everyone hit the hay.
At 0600 hours, we were all awoken by the bugle – a sound which we would soon become all to familiar with. After the ships cook, Dennis the Menace, made us all an amazing feed, it was all men on deck to learn the ropes. From standby deck check to starboard lookout, we all “2 6 heaved” our way through the day. With the help of our legendary watch leaders - Timomatic, Mark and Matz (and Heather and Craig) - we learnt to belay and flake ropes, to take the backstays on and off and to navigate the ships path. In the late afternoon, the boat dropped anchor at a boatiful little island and, oh buoy, was it pretty. We hiked up to the lighthouse at the top of the island and got an incredible view of the ocean. Watching the sun set from the boat is one of the images that will definitely stay in my mind for a very long time, but the day didn’t end there.
We were introduced to the night watches, a task that we would soon develop a bitter sweet relationship with. Being up from midnight until 4.00am with the other members of our watch to make sure the boat didn’t sink in the night was definitely an experience. Bonding over hot chocolate and lack of sleep, we all did our best to stay awake and alert. Day two was a totally different story – with winds as high as the seas, the deck seemed to be almost vertical. Hauling up the sails while trying not to fall off the boat was an interesting task, but knot one of us backed down. When the winds calmed, it was smooth sailing once more and we were surprised by a pair of dolphins that swam alongside our boat (most likely attracted by Daiana’s dolphin calls). Hundreds of games of concentration and guess the song were played and there were more than a few sets of sunburnt legs from snoozing on deck. The knot tying competition went down in Australian history as one of the most tense sporting comps to hit the seas (up the mighty red watch!). From bow lines and figure eights to reef knots and sheet bends, knot one of the watches backed down.
On Saturday night, we got our first taste of night sailing. It was one of the most incredible experiences anyone could ask for – you don’t realise the extent of the night sky until you’re out at sea. There is no way to describe the feeling of sailing at midnight with a hot chocolate and a great group of friends. In the morning, we were all very eager to head over to Lady Musgrave Island for a snorkel and a bit of sun tanning, but first we all tried our hand at jumping off the boat, some more eager than others. We sailed into the wee hours of the morning that night, preparing for the final day – the day we we took command of the ship ourselves. Led by a trusty skipper, Crystal Paris, a searious sailing master, Sam Stevenson and a “shore of herself” navigator, Lauren Sprague, we made a force to be reckoned with. A huge thanks has to also go to the amazing teachers who were with us on this journey – Miss Connell and Mr Keczan. Without them our trip would not have been possible so we cannot thank them enough! The 2016 Sailing Camp was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that will be with us forever. BANGING OFF.
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