Jade's adventure on board a tall ship
Jade Roper certainly hit the heights when she signed up for a tall ship experience.
But the trainee teacher almost didn’t get to enjoy the astonishing adventure. She was so terrified of the prospect, she almost talked herself out of it in the weeks leading up to her journey.
She is so glad she didn’t because it turned out to be totally memorable.
Jade, 18, from Sunderland is studying Primary Education at the University of Sunderland. She is also a Guider with Girl Guiding.
But last year, she was a sail trainee on the Stavros S Niarchos.
She spoke to us to tell other prospective trainees what a wonderful time they can expect.
“I got on the ship on day 1, convinced I was going to hate it and spend the whole voyage wishing I hadn’t come! I couldn’t have been more wrong in every way!
“Our voyage started in Newcastle and ended in Esbjerg, Denmark. I loved every single second.
“I met some incredible people, both permanent, volunteer and voyage crew, people that were a shoulder to lean on when times got tough during the voyage and friends for life!
Some incredible memories were made, which I will treasure forever.
Moments of joy, laughter and fear that absolutely made the voyage what it was. Not everything was a walk in the park, being on watch at all hours, bracing, climbing to set sails, happy hour and everything else in between sometimes got the better of us and exhaustion hits you in the face around day 3 after you have probably only slept for 8-10 hours in 72.
“I faced one of my biggest fears during our voyage, heights! Day 1 we did something called an up and over which was climbing up one side of the rigging and coming down the other side once you had reached the first platform.
“I went last and did not get up very far before sheer panic set in.
“My heart was racing and I just couldn’t face going any further so I came back down and waited to try another day.
“The day came when we were to set sail for Denmark, and we were up early to set the sails, which meant, climbing! Climbing high enough to be able to help the team set the sails what a huge achievement and an amazing feeling!
“Throughout our voyage I got higher and higher and although the fear was still there and I had to think mind over matter and on our last day once docked in Denmark I did the social climb.
“The aim was to climb as high as you desired, the highest being mast head. I hadn’t gotten any higher than the 1st yard and any higher terrified me.”
Jade watched the rest of the crew on their climb and then “waited for my watch leader to come back down and climb with me.
With my watch leader Saskia and another of the watch leaders Drew, we took our time and with their encouragement and help, I climbed higher than I ever thought possible!”
Thanks to Saskia, Jade even got a hand-sewn badge “for conquering my fear, such a lovely thought that almost brought me to tears! Something I will treasure forever!”
Jade added: “There is something incredibly beautiful about being at sea and everything that came with it, that captured my heart!”
And she had some advice for others.
“If you ever have chance to take part in an adventure on a tall ship, please, please grab the experience with both hands and enjoy every minute of it.”