A lucky group of young people from across the region sailed in the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta in 2016.
They were there as part of the Sunderland Sail Trainee Programme.
John Parkin, Toni-Ann Wood, Josh Marlow, Sophie Jordan, Chloe Tumilty, Ryan Bailey, Blaine Richardson and Chris Dow sailed from Blyth across the North Sea on the adventure of a lifetime to Gothenburg, Sweden, on board the majestic Tall Ship Kapitan Borchardt.
Chris Dow, who is part-sponsored by Pennywell Youth Project, looked back on the experience.
“I can clearly remember how excited I was the day I joined the Kapitan Borchardt. I did feel the nerves kick in as well as I’d never done anything like sail on a ship before.
“The ship crew made me feel welcome right from the start and I started to relax and get to know the other sail trainees who I can now call friends for life.
It’s pitch black with just the moon and hundreds of stars when you’re right out at sea. You just wouldn’t get those experiences anywhere elseChris Dow
“We were all given a tour of the ship and found out what we could expect over the next few days. We also got put into our Watch Group, that’s the group you stick with when you’re doing your tasks on the ship.”
He had a message for anyone thinking of signing up for a tall ship experience.
“Definitely do it! You’ll make new friends from here and other countries, do things you never thought you would like steering the ship, climbing the mast, working in a team to hoist the sails up and there’s nothing like being on deck at night.
“It’s pitch black with just the moon and hundreds of stars when you’re right out at sea and there’s nothing better than watching the sun set over the horizon
“You just wouldn’t get those experiences anywhere else.”
And then there’s the land-based activities.
Chris added: “When you get to Esbjerg you’ll take part in loads of activities with all of the other ships crews including the crew party and crew parade, you’ll also get plenty of free time to take a look around the city.
“In Gothenburg, I undertook an international football tournament with all the crews from different ships, but unfortunately ended up in hospital with a sprained ankle.
“The most inspiring thing that day for me was the support I got from all the crews and mainly my crew in particular. Due to this accident and an accident previous whilst sailing to Sweden, my crew of Kapitan Borchardt won an award for best teamwork in the Parade of Sail awards.
“Anyway..... the reason I have mentioned this is because I just want to say, no matter how much you worry or fall, there will always be a way to get back up.
“The Talk Ships Races is a great opportunity to show your skills and abilities no matter how big or small they may be.
“So come on, what you waiting for, get on board!!!”