A captain's tale of life on a tall ship as Sunderland races loom
Caroline Saunders loves watching as youths develop from cautious novices to enthusiastic young sailors during their tall ship experience.
It’s one of the highlights of her role as a relief skipper on board James Cook.
And in a matter of days, that’s what another group of sail trainees will get to enjoy when they take part in this year’s Tall Ships races.
The James Cook is part of the Ocean Youth Trust North set-up.
As OYT’s own publicity says: “Ocean Youth Trust North offers young people a safe but challenging environment in which to explore their identity and increase their confidence. The results are profound.”
Caroline added: “We get about 500 young people a year.
“They start quite nervous and we sit around a table on the ship with them and do an introduction.
“We spent a lot of time round that table. It is an integral part. Some of them have never sat round a table before. It is quite sociable in that sense.”
And from that first day, the students develop into sailors who take control and ownership of the task in hand.
“That feeling of a family is quite important,” said Caroline. “It is seeing them progress to being a lot more confident.”
James Cook will be a part of Sunderland’s first involvement in the Tall Ships Races and will be bringing a group of Seaham High School students to the event next Wednesday.
Then, during the first race to Esbjerg, representatives of the Berwick Youth project will be on board as well as three crew sponsored by Sunderland Tall Ships.
Keswick School, Durham Explorer Scouts and Rotary will all have representatives on future journeys in the races.
Ocean Youth Trust North takes young people away from their everyday routine and inspires them to make positive changes to their lives.
The North Shields-based James Cook was designed and built more than 30 years ago and has impacted on the lives of over 10,000 young people mainly from the North of England.
Crew from all walks of life, with both difficult and non-sailing backgrounds, young and old, and crews with disabilities are all taken on board by the James Cook.
To find out more about sailing experiences with Ocean Youth Trust North, visit www.oytnorth.org.uk