One of our MacRobertson Girls’ Secondary College Interact students, Dishika, was successful in her application to be a participant in the Rotary Youth Sailing Challenge. Dishika flew over to Adelaide then boarded the ship to sail back.  What an amazing experience for all participants!
When Dishika first arrived in Adelaide, she was invited to stay at home of David Binks and his wife.  David Binks is a visionary South Australian boat builder and Rotarian. A book was written about David and theprogram was established shortly after the book launch and now enjoys the support of many Rotary Clubs, Schools, the Boating Industry Foundation and corporate sponsors (including Sealink) who have observed the positive benefits for those who have had the Sailing Experience.
 
David Binks invited Dishika to the District Governor's cocktail party on Friday 26th May   to make a speech.   Dishika spoke with such passion and was so engaging, that she will be invited to speak  at other Rotary clubs.
 
The five day training programme sailing the tall ship One and All is designed to challenge the students in ways that they would not experience on shore. From the moment they set foot on board their lives changed quite dramatically in a number of ways.
 
During their first three days on board the students had to learn the many tasks involved in safely sailing a square-rigged ship.  On the final two days, although keeping a watchful eye, the crew stepped back and allowed the students to sail the vessel home themselves.
 
There were no mobile phones allowed on board.  The students were divided into 3 watches: port, starboard and middle for the journey.  During their time on board they worked in their watches under the guidance of an officer and watch leader, 4 hours on 4 hours off for 24 hours a day. 
 
They were allocated a small locker for their possessions, and a bunk that had to be shared on rotation with two other members of the two other watches. Depending on the sea conditions one of the first challenges for the students was the moving around on the rolling, sometimes violently bucking, ship.  Solid spray at times flooded the decks, which made the tasks even more difficult. 
 
Learning the names of the many ropes, lines and sails on the vessel is quite a challenge on its own but the students were required to do so to be able to operate the ship. The sails are far more powerful than anyone individual could control. As a result, it is imperative that the students learn to work together in in a team, obeying orders precisely when given. If I fail to do this, they would be unable to harness the power of the wind and there would be mayhem. 
 
Another challenge the students faced was that of climbing the rigging to reef and unfurl the sails. This involved walking out on foot ropes strung beneath the moving spars above the ocean swirling past some 80 feet below. Learning to keep the vessel, tidy coiling lines ready for use, and putting everything in its place, can be quite challenging but something that must be done to operate the vessel safely. Helming the vessel learning to read a chart navigating, making a judgement on which sails to set to match the wind conditions, are skills that the train students learned during the trip.