Youngsters sailed off for a taste of maritime adventure aboard one of Britain's biggest operational tall ships.
More than 30 young people aged between 12 and 15 from Sunderland set sail for an adventure of a lifetime on-board the brig Stavros S Niarchos.
The Sunderland Tall Ships Programme has made it possible for a group of 10 looked-after children along with participants in the Sunderland Sail Training Ambassador Programme, Young Sunderland Carers, Sunderland Youth Parliament and local youth groups to sail from the Port of Sunderland.
Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “I am so pleased so many young people
from the city took up this fantastic opportunity.
“The experience this group will have and just as importantly share, is a perfect way for them to find out more about themselves and what they can accomplish.
"I’m sure that everyone will come back, safe and sound with exciting tales to tell to their friends and families.”
On hand to wish the adventurers well were a team from the Northumbria Police Marine Unit, who brought along their rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) which is designed for high-speed and emergency operations in all waters.
The officers took time out to explain their roles and also to give some advice on safety around the water.
A spokesman said: “As everyone knows, safety around water is very important, not just on-board boats but at the beach, and riverside too. Just as important is how to get help if needed, by dialling 999 you can also contact the coastguard too.
“It’s been a privilege to be invited onto such a beautiful ship and to meet so many young people setting off for their first adventure at sea. I’m sure they’ll be well looked after and have a great time.”
Captain Liam Keating from the Stavros S Niarchos, said, “It’s great to be back here in Sunderland. The response to the opportunity to sail has been fantastic.
"It looks like there are a lot of young people up for a challenge and adventure which is great to see.
“Every aspect of sailing from setting the sails and steering to climbing masts and navigation will be made available to the new crew and I’m sure we’ll have a great time.
"We will be back in time to watch the airshow so I hope we will get a huge wave from the crowds onshore.”
As part of the upcoming Tall Ships Races in 2018 the Sunderland Sail Training Ambassador Programme is an ambitious initiative designed to encourage communities to embrace sail training. Over 20 young people from across the region have been nominated to take part in the programme which was launched by HRH the Princess Royal in May 2016
Supported by local businesses and organisations the Sail Training Ambassadors will enjoy a challenging but enjoyable two-year programme of sail training, nautical and cultural activities including tall ship voyages.
They will also have a confirmed place on the first leg of The Tall Ships Races 2018. The first race is from Sunderland (which is to be the start host port for the 2018 Race series) to Esbjerg in Denmark.
Tall Ships Races Sunderland Project Director, Ian Flannery, added: “It’s great to see so many adventurous youngsters taking the opportunity to do something they had never done before. Each of our supported ambassadors will represent their sponsor at selected events such as this, as well as feeding back their adventures via social media.”
"There are still a few opportunities for local businesses to sponsor an Ambassador and I encourage them to be part of this fantastic project.”
For further information about opportunities to sponsor an Ambassador please contact Ian Flannery 0191 561 1397. To receive updates on the project, follow the team on Twitter @TallShipsSund or on Facebook at TallShipsRacesSunderland.