Voyage launched career

This article has photo gallery Published on SGT Dave Morley (author), ABCSO Steven Thomson (photographer), LSIS Kayla Hayes (photographer)

Lieutenant Matt McGrath hugs his partner Erika Lelkes goodbye at the farewell ceremony held for STS Young Endeavour before she departs on a 12 month circumnavigation of the world. (photo: ABIS Kayla Hayes)
Lieutenant Matt McGrath hugs his partner Erika Lelkes goodbye at the farewell ceremony held for STS Young Endeavour before she departs on a 12 month circumnavigation of the world.

Lieutenant Matt McGrath enjoyed his voyage as a youth crew member so much that he sought a posting to Young Endeavour after joining the Navy.
 
He first embarked in the ship sailing up the Queensland coast from Brisbane to Mackay when he was 16. 
 
After studying and working in the shipping industry he joined the Navy in 2010 as a Maritime Warfare Officer, and chose a posting in Young Endeavour as the ship’s training officer.
 
“I chose to join Young Endeavour because I knew about the program from having sailed as a teenager,” he said. 
 
“I enjoyed that voyage and knew it would be an interesting career opportunity, as well as a fun job.”
 
Lieutenant McGrath set sail from Sydney in December 2014 for the eight-month journey across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans to Europe.
 
He sailed through the Mediterranean and into the North Sea to race Young Endeavour in the annual tall ship races in August, where the ship placed fifth, and 18th on corrected time. 
 
Lieutenant McGrath found the role very different from his previous Navy postings.
 
“Crewing Young Endeavour is very rewarding, with lots of unique experiences, but it’s not as easy as most people think,” he said.
 
“Embarking a new youth crew every few weeks or months is challenging. 
 
“They each bring new experiences to the ship, and it’s good to see what they each accomplish and to know they’ve had a great time during each and every voyage.”
 
Lieutenant McGrath said another challenge was the extreme weather on an open deck.
 
“I climbed the mast in 60-knot winds in Cadiz, Spain, holding on to the yardarm to untangle a line, and struggling to get back to the foremast,” he said. 
 
“We went really fast at times, and it’s always busy, and always demanding to safely sail on the open ocean with a crew of young Australians.” 
 
Lieutenant McGrath said the world voyage was amazing and offered him opportunities he would not otherwise have had.

“The people are the same, but we’ve been to places I would never see on a grey ship,” he said. 

“Gallipoli on Anzac Day, pilotages in Europe and South America, and sailing through the Corinth Canal in Greece were some of the many things to see and experience.

“Sitting on the course yard to see that impressive sight was a highlight at the end of an eight-month deployment.”