Sailing to new heights through youth leadership program

Published on Jennifer Reilly (author)

Location(s): Cairns, QLD

Topic(s): Defence Indigenous Development Program (DIDP), STS Young Endeavour

 (photo: UNKNOWN)

The national Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour arrived back in Cairns on 4 August crewed by 24 youth from across Australia. The young Australians sailed the square-rigged tall ship on an 11 day voyage out of Cairns, completing the Young Endeavour Youth Development Program.

Jessica Lowth, a 20 year old was given the opportunity to join the voyage by the Defence Indigenous Development Program, and said that the experience has pushed her out of her comfort zone.

“We’ve had tasks like climbing to the top of the 30 metre foremast of the ship to secure the gaskets,” she said.

“If you asked me to do that before the voyage I would have said there was no way I would do it – but now I know that I can. I’m learning more about my capabilities and my courage.”

During the voyage, the youth crew learned the skills to successfully sail a square-rigged ship, including how to navigate, keep watch, cook in the galley, set and furl sails, take the helm and climb the 30 metre mast.

For the final part of their voyage they elected a leadership team and took command of the 44 metre brigantine, sailing Young Endeavour along the Queensland coast.

Eight days in to her voyage, Jessica was elected by her peers to chart a safe course for the tall ship from Dunk Island to Fitzroy Island as the Youth Crew Navigator on Command Day.

The voyage is part of Young Endeavour’s 2016 circumnavigation of Australia, which began in Sydney in late May. From Cairns, the tall ship will sail across the Top End, visiting the ports of Thursday Island, Gove, Darwin and Broome before sailing down the west coast, returning to Sydney in early 2017.

Voyages in Young Endeavour are open to all Australians aged 16-23. Since 1988, when the ship was gifted to Australia, more than 12,500 youth have completed the internationally recognised youth development program under the guidance of a specially trained Royal Australian Navy crew, and a further 10,000 guests from organisations supporting youth with special needs have joined community day sails.

The Cairns community is invited to visit Young Endeavour, tour the ship and learn more about the youth development program offered on board at a public open day from 1:00-4:00pm at Trinity Wharf on Saturday, 6 August 2016.

Applications to join the crew are now open. For more information please visit