August 30, 2022

Welcome back to Rotary Youth under Sail (RYuS)

12 young people came on an ‘Adventure under Sail’ on the sail training vessel, James Cook with Ocean Youth Trust North along the east coast of England from Hull to North Shields from 8 to 13 August 2022.  The young people had been kindly sponsored through York Vikings and Louth Rotary clubs at £620 each.

Rotary Yorkshire Lincolnshire working in partnership to offer life changing opportunities for young people from the age of 14 -17
James Cook

Upon arrival, they explored their new surroundings, found themselves a bunk and unpacked.  Then they congregated around the saloon table to meet the staff and introduce themselves with ‘the name game’.  They all had to say their name and something about themselves and then, name all those who have introduced themselves already.

After introductions and lunch, they were split into ‘watches’ (teams) and undertook the safety briefings and basic training.  This covers area such as the importance and safe use of lifejackets, the use of the heads (toilets) and how to move around the boat using harness lines and what to do in an emergency.  They also learnt how to use the winches and handle ropes safely, a few useful knots and the names of parts of the boat.

Once all the safety training was completed, the skipper explained to them the how the wind and tide dictate where a sailing boat can go.  They looked at a chart (map of the sea) so that a decision about where their voyage would take them and they formulated a passage plan.  The decision was to sail north towards their final destination of North Shields with the first stop to be Whitby.

There is a tidal gate at Hull Marina so it is only possible to leave or near the time of high water, which was around 3.30am, so everybody went to bed early to have a proper rest.

At 3.30am James Cook departed Hull marina through the lock into the river Humber.   It was nice and calm morning and everyone was involved with helming (steering) and with helping to stow the boats fenders and mooring lines.  The sails on James Cook are very large and heavy and it takes most of the crew and good teamwork to haul them up. 

Learning the ropes

They spent the night anchored in Filey Bay where everyone took turns on the anchor watch.  This involves being awake at a scheduled time, recording the position of the boat, talking to each other whilst respecting their crew mates who are sleeping.

The next morning they lifted the anchor and made their way to Whitby.  After ‘happy hour’, which is where everyone is involved in cleaning the boat, there was some time ashore to explore Whitby and to go swimming.

Another early start (4.30am) and then an anchorage in Runswick bay for some Royal Yachting Association training towards their Start Yachting qualification.  An afternoon sail to Hartlepool marina and then an early start the next morning for the final leg to North Shields where they experienced the ‘fog on the Tyne’.

The final morning, they sat for the final time around the big table and had a chat about the week and an opportunity to give their best and worst bits.  They had worked hard during the voyage learning the skills to pass their Royal Yachting Association Start Yachting certificate.

Through the voyage, the separate young individuals became a very good crew demonstrating teamwork and respect. They have learnt about the boat, sails, meteorology and safety at sea with everybody taking part in cleaning, cooking and sailing the boat.

Amongst the crew were 3 Ukrainian refuges. They had recently come to the UK and this voyage was a great opportunity for them to learn about Britain, practice English and work together with local teenagers.


These young people have experienced what is likely to be a once in a lifetime adventure which will have created memories and life skills to last forever.

Sailing offers many learning outside the classroom opportunities with life and practical skills.

They learnt that they would not have managed to complete their expedition without teamwork as the sails are big and heavy and the steering and looking out requires communication and concentration along with the responsibility for navigating a large yacht full of their new friends.

These were many fears to overcome.  Speaking out in front of groups of people is a difficult task for anyone.  The ‘Name Game’ they play when they first arrive gives them an opportunity to speak publically and tell us something about themselves.

Sleeping in a communal area along with lots of other people requires consideration and respect for others.

Cooking and clearing up after meals for 18 people is a challenge that they are unlikely to have encountered before.

The challenges they need to overcome with this type of activity will help them with the resilience, tolerance and independence. They can take away a shared experience and achievement.

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