Last week a group of intrepid Year 8s and 9s travelled up to Newcastle to spend a week aboard James Cook, sailing in the North Sea. The aim of the trip was to give pupils from Beckfoot the chance to take on a challenge, learn new skills in unfamiliar surroundings, and to push themselves out of their comfort zones. The trip was a success, and all involved learned something new about themselves and each other.
Named after the famous British explorer captain James Cook, the boat is a 70-foot-long, 55 ton training vessel, designed to accommodate groups of young people as they learn to sail. It is looked after by a charity called the Ocean Youth Trust who set up trips for young people in the North Sea. They follow Cook’s own moto: ‘Nil Intentatum Reliquit’ leave nothing unattempted, and in 1997-8 it sailed around the world with a group from Ocean Youth Club. Today it regularly competes in the Tall and Small ships races as well as school outings. The skipper (captain) for our trip was called Robin, and he made sure everyone was safe, and that they got involved in all aspects of life at sea. This included hoisting sails, steering the boat, keeping watch on deck for hazards, cooking meals, cleaning, navigating, and speaking on the radio to the port authorities.
Everyone encountered some sort of challenge along the way, from seasickness, to standing up when big waves hit the boat, to tired arms and being far away from home. Despite the challenges the group worked hard together and looked after one another when it got tough. Thankfully it wasn’t all hard work though, we stopped off in Whitby one day to watch the sunset from the abbey, and we played games below deck most evenings. We also spotted a range of wildlife, from curious seals popping up to see what we were having for lunch, sea birds gliding by on calm afternoons, and lots of jellyfish under the boat. The scenery was also very memorable, with great views of as far as the eye could see, and 5-metre waves that rolled the boat around like a little toy boat in the bath.
Afterwards the group all agreed the highlights from the trip included making new friends, overcoming challenges, fun experiences of life at sea, and the Mc Donald’s that they had on the way home! The boat staff who looked after us were fun to work with, and did a great job of making sure our time on board was as memorable as possible. Since getting back to dry land some of the group have mentioned they’d like to go on more adventures, and even might like to do some more sailing! The trip was organised by Mr Sandercock from Beckfoot, who also got a bit seasick!