Spirit of adventure
Teamwork is equally as important as physical strength. That may just have been the biggest lesson learnt by a group of teenagers who spent three days on Spirit of Bermuda working towards the Silver level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
Certainly it was a winning point with Malsha Amarasinghe, who agreed to take part although unsure that she would measure up.
“I’m not as athletically inclined as I should be,” the Bermuda High School student said.
“I thought that going on the sloop would be another point saying I couldn’t do it and that I wasn’t as capable as everyone else.”
She was one of nine students who sailed around the island from August 3 to 5 as part of the Silver Adventurous Journey.
The 16-year-old’s courage was tested on the afternoon she had to captain Spirit.
“It was scary,” she said. “I was the one telling everyone the commands. I had to know what was going on in front, behind and under the boat.
“I had to keep tabs on boats coming in and boats coming out of the harbour and where the sails were.
“It was so much responsibility I don’t know how the captain does it. I am really proud that I have done this and that I learnt a lot.”
Her schoolmate, Tana van den Berg, found learning the “different parts to the sails and [how to tie the] different knots” was a lot to take in, but that it all paid off with the independence she gained.
“You feel so free when you are in the boat and on the water,” said the 16-year-old, who is considering marine biology as a career.
“You can control wherever you want to go. Being on Spirit of Bermuda has shown me that I really love being on a boat.
“Hopefully, in the future, I can be on a sailboat and travel around the world and do science. I could go on scientific expeditions to do research.”
At the end of the day, the students went home, grateful for the break until the next morning when there were more lessons to be learnt.
They picked up skills such as how to sail Spirit themselves, hoist sails, keep watch and steer.
Trey Vance, 16, felt ill the day it fell to him to manoeuvre Spirit of Bermuda through the islands near Hamilton Harbour. But once it was all over, he felt proud that he did not quit.
“I wanted to give up,” the Impact Mentoring Academy student said.
“I didn’t think I would crash the boat, because I know how to drive a boat. I was nervous because I thought I might faint.”
The students also spent time snorkelling around various shipwrecks, and filming and counting the fish and corals they saw to help conservationists keep track of species.
Richard Johnston loved that everyone worked together to put the heavy sails up.
“The people at the front, pulling the ropes, say ‘two, six’ and then the people in the back shout ‘heave’,” the CedarBridge Academy student said.
“The louder they shout ‘heave’, the harder everyone pulls on the ropes and those sails go right up.”
The 16-year-old was so inspired by the experience that he wants to earn his seaman’s certificate.
“A dream of mine is to captain a yacht and to sail it myself,” he said. “I want to sail the seas and have fun.”
Nico Davis, 16, had been on Spirit before and saw the course as an opportunity to improve his skills.
“It was really fun in the past,” the Berkeley Institute student said. “I also like sailing a lot. For this adventure, I found out that I can do a lot of things as long as I get steered in the right direction. I can help out anywhere in the boat. It doesn’t matter how minimal or how big the task was.”
Fiona Holmes, DofE development director, said one of the best parts was seeing students from different schools working together towards a common goal.
“They were all put outside of their comfort zones, but they had to focus on learning what ropes to pull and when and so forth. They definitely learnt communication and teamwork.”
• The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award programme is available to students between the ages of 14 to 24. For more information contact Fiona Holmes: 737-8959; email@example.com
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