Hero photograph
Photo by Chris Risbridger

Spirit of Adventure

Chris Risbridger —

A number of Burnside High School students completed Spirit of Adventure voyages over the summer. Here are some reports about what they got up to.

Andre'a Maro - Voyage 786T6

In November of 2019 I had the privilege of being a trainee on the tall ship Spirit of New Zealand. The Spirit of New Zealand is managed by the Spirit of Adventure Trust. I had the experience of a lifetime and have nothing but gratitude for the crew and everyone that made the trip possible. My voyage number was 786T6 and I along with 39 other trainees and 15 crew members sailed from Tauranga Port to Picton but before we get to that let me tell you about how I ended up on the ship in the middle of November.

So around May of 2019 my mum saw a flyer advertising for trainees to join the Tuia – Encounters 250. I didn’t know a lot about the trip but I have always been intrigued by the thought of sailing so I sent in an application and the rest was history.

Tuia 250 was a commemoration in 2019 marking 250 years since the first onshore encounters between Māori and Pākehā in 1769. Tuia 250 celebrated Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific voyaging heritage and was a national opportunity to hold conversations about the past, the present and how we navigate our shared future. As part of the commemorations there was a voyage flotilla that consisted of six vessels; the Fa’afaite from Tahiti, Haunui and Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti from Aotearoa New Zealand, the HMB Endeavour replica from Australia, and the R.Tucker Thompson and Spirit of New Zealand. During my leg of the voyage, the voyage flotilla spent a day at Ship Cove (Meretoto) where we learnt about many of the earliest interactions between Maori and Pakeha people 250 year prior. Ship Cove was actually the first place of Maori-Pakeha relations and was a popular spot with Captain Cook as he knew he would always be welcomed by the locals.

Now back to the Spirit! As stated earlier I was a trainee on the Spirit of New Zealand. My voyage was the most amazing experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. After the first night where you get settled in and told your watch group, an average day on the Spirit would look a little like this; wake up, swim, breakfast, chores and then watch rotations. Watch rotations is where you and nine other trainees take turns with the other watches on deck. There are four watch groups on the ship; Starboard A, Starboard B, Port A, Port B.There’s so much you can do you'd be surprised how easy it is to go without technology. And the wildlife is incredible. I was lucky enough to be on night watch when a pod of dolphins swam past the ship and due to the fact that it had been all day, the plankton in the water had absorb a lot of the energy from the sun, so when the dolphins started swimming around, the energy was released which made it look the dolphins were glowing in the dark! The one thing that made my experience on the Spirit the greatest was the people. On the Spirit I made friends that I’m sure I’ll have for the rest of my life. And the crew are the most caring people and I can’t wait to see them all again sometime soon.

And on that note, that’s my Spirit of Adventure.

See a video from Andre'a's voyage here

Eliza Meekings - Voyage 790

The Spirit of Adventure Trust’s Spirit of New Zealand Voyage 790, sailing from Nelson to Picton over 10 days between January 6 to 15, was an adventure offered to me thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Bishopdale Burnside.

After participating in a winter-time Outward Bound Mind/Body/Soul course a few months previously, thanks to the same sponsor, I had expected the Spirit of New Zealand to be similarly focused on youth development through activities designed to push an individual far out of their comfort zone, to test their limits both mentally and physically. Outward Bound was a really tough, wet, cold three weeks in the beautiful, rugged Marlborough Sounds. I expected the Spirit of New Zealand voyage, in the same environment, to be challenging – but hoped it would be equally rewarding, and dearly hoped it would be fun. It was enormous fun!

The first milestone for me to get over was that I boarded the ship terrified of the sea. I can happily report that the kraken is not a real creature and I evidently survived my early morning submersions.

From the beginning, each day brought new experiences to challenge and extend us, with a real focus on working together as a team, and most of these were learning curves. Sometimes, for example, it was hard to figure out what rope operated which sail – every now and then, you would have to discreetly tug one to see what corresponding part of the sail moved. So, I would highly suggest that future participants listen intently to everything that are told. Although this may be hard, surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery New Zealand has to offer, they may just find, as I did, that what the crew are saying is both interesting and useful. What’s more, as I found, it may awaken an unexpected love of tall-ship sailing.

The most rewarding part of the voyage was that, after eight days of sailing, paddling, hiking, swimming, group activities – and more sailing – the Spirit of New Zealand crew entrusted their multi-million dollar vessel to 40 teenage trainees. The evening before, we elected our captain and two mates, two engineers, two cooks, and two navigators to chart our course. I was elected one of the mates. This meant working closely with the captain to ensure the sail stations were running smoothly; and with the navigators to be sure we were, in fact, heading in a vaguely correct direction. This “trainee day” saw the accumulation of eight days of knowledge put into practice, as we tacked and jibed under our own power in Cook Strait and through Queen Charlotte Sound.

Above everything, Voyage 790 was an absolute blast! Not for one moment did I find myself bored, lonely, or questioning my decision to be there. Yes, I was pushed socially, meeting and making 39 new friends, plus the wonderful crew of course. Yes, I was pushed physically, hiking for hours or dangling from ropes, resorting to bodyweight – rather than strength – to sweat and tail the lines. Yes, I was pushed mentally, daring myself to look down from the top of the mast to the deck far below, only to look out as well and realise just what a beautiful place my country is.

So, to future voyage trainees I would suggest giving this amazing opportunity a go. Embrace it with 110% effort and you will be able to look back on one of the most extraordinary experiences of your lives with a big smile and no regrets.

See a video from Eliza's voyage here   

Thomas James - Voyage 791

I was fortunate to have the experience of being a Leading hand on the Spirit of New Zealand voyage 791 from Picton to Nelson, 15 to 25 January 2020. Going back on the Spirit of New Zealand as a Leading hand (my first time as crew) enabled me to cement and extend the learning journey I started on as a Trainee a year before. The opportunity to meet and work with a team people that I had never met before, while taking responsibilities on the ship, provided a wonderful environment to develop as a person. My confidence, interpersonal and leadership skills grew as friendships developed and my sailing skill set increased.

As a crew member, I was given responsibility for duties, I had to be able to effectively lead Trainees to ensure tasks were successfully completed. I spent a lot of time up in the rigging assisting with the setting and stowing of sails. The rigging is outside of most Trainees comfort zones; standing on a single piece of rope, out on a yard, with the deck far below is a challenging place for many, especially when there is a task that needs to be completed. I learnt to lead by encouragement by getting alongside and helping others. It was servant leadership that changed the experience for Trainees. It was by taking a step to the side and offering guidance and a listening ear rather than taking over, that enabled Trainees to successfully meet the challenge.

Everyone needs to feel that their feelings are valued and that their voice can be heard. My time up in the rigging helped me to recognise the real value of encouragement, of listening, of not treating yourself as superior but of earning respect, so that trust can help fears to be overcome.

I spent the other half of my time helping the cook in the galley. Cooking is not my strong point, it is an activity that I will avoid, choosing the easiest route to getting something to eat. Spending lots of time in the galley therefore meant that I was able to improve my skills and appreciate the art of preparing food. It also meant that I was reminded of the value of perseverance, how much better the end goal feels when you have worked hard to accomplish it.

As a crew we were encouraged to see that everyone has different skills and that those with leadership skills are no better than those who are contributing in other ways. This couldn’t have been truer in food preparation, the Trainees decided how I could help them, often it was by doing the job that no one else wanted to do.

My time on the Spirit of New Zealand helped confirm for me, that being an effective leader in my community means listening and valuing other people’s perspectives, it means getting alongside, working with, encouraging and inspiring other people to achieve.

The opportunity to be immersed in nature, totally separated from the distractions of modern technologies, reminded me of the value of spending time really getting to know other people and admiring our natural world.

Abby Lee Voyage 793

The best ten days of my life!
On February 13th, I was lucky enough to board the Spirit of New Zealand, as apart of Voyage #793. I had the time of my life! There was no possible way for me to be able to experience the opportunity I did without the incredible sponsors who funded my trip. My sponsors were Di Barrett (Riccarton Waimairi Lions Club) and Christchurch Casino Charitable Trust. I am so incredibly thankful for the funding that provided me, as well as the encouragement to board the ship! (Also a big thank you to Mr Risbridger for the encouragement and reassurance throughout the whole process). 

I boarded the Spirit Of New Zealand, February the 13th at the Nelson Port, and returned ten days later back at the same port, reminiscing on the day I left on a ship waving goodbye to my Dad, as I sailed away with 40 randoms. I got to see so many incredible places around the top of the South Island such as Greville Bay, Port Hardy, Ship Cove, Awaroa, Tonga Island and more little coves. I would never have experienced any of these beautiful places without the opportunity that I was given by this trip. I remember the build-up to the trip, the nerves, the excitement and the worry that I experienced. I was asking every person I saw if they knew anything about the Spirit Of Adventure, or if they had heard of any experiences, I was watching YouTube videos to prepare myself, but none of these resources properly prepared me for the time that I had. I spent half of my time seasick, harnessed to the side of the ship, but I was still smiling, enjoying every moment I was having. From naps on the deck to laughs, hugs and tears. 

I can safely say it was the best time ever! I made friends, and connections with people with various pasts, and hopes for the future and it was an incredible eye-opening time. I remember the last night, sitting watching the sunset as a group of 40 teenagers, eating ice cream, taking photos, sharing tears of memories, laughing about the silly things we had done, but most importantly recognising our friendships. I made 40 life long friends and made incredible connections within a group of 5 of us, who are the best of friends months later. After getting home, and being one of the few South Islanders from the trip, it was safe to say that post Spirit sadness is a thing! (Even writing this makes me tear up!) My experience was a time that I will never forget, and I was the happiest I have ever been. I would recommend the 10-day development voyage to ANYONE and EVERYONE! The time that is spent onboard is like no other, and I can guarantee that the nerves at the start make the whole time so much better! You will never forget the first meal shared on board, or the last, or the fights over the last bit of milo. You will never regret going on a voyage, even if you spend half of it seasick like me because it was hands down the best thing I have and ever will do. 

I am incredibly thankful for the experience, and the time put into the time away. It is impossible for me to talk about the things that I did like because it was EVERYTHING. I loved staying up till 4 am doing night watch, I loved facing my fears, I loved being able to be myself, I loved making new friends, I loved being out of my comfort zone, I loved jumping off of the ship at 6 am. I loved every single second. The only thing that I didn’t like was leaving. If I could redo the experience I would do it any day, any time. I miss it so much, and I have no regrets in facing my fears and doing something that I would never look into because it seems too daunting. It was truly the best ten days of my life, and I am incredibly thankful for the support before and after, the funding, and the crew and trainees from Voyage #793!