A crew of Year 9 students from The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham, berthed at the Port of Blyth after a nine-day passage from Canary Wharf, London, and taking in Brugge, on the 200ft British tall ship Stavros S Niarchos.
The young sailors were part of a crew of 37 from the Emmanuel Schools Foundation with fellow students from sister schools, Bede Academy, Blyth, Emmanuel College, Gateshead, and Trinity Academy, Thorne.
The annual ESF voyage, operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust, aims to support students’ personal development by giving them the opportunity to play an active part of life aboard ship.
King’s Academy PE teacher Lyndsey Henry, who accompanied the students on board, said: “Although this is the seventh ESF voyage it is my first ever experience of a tall ship and something I will remember for the rest of my life.
“The students have had incredible fun, learned brand new skills and made life long friends –it truly is a unique experience and we have been incredibly lucky to be able to be part of it.”
As well as living on board the young crew also took part in ship duties including helming, scaling the 200ft masts to set and stow the sails, navigating, scrubbing the decks, cooking for fellow shipmates and night watches on the bridge.
They were also given the opportunity to row the longliners, which forms part of a yachting award and is the first step on the ladder for sail training.
Student Lucy Harrison, 14, of Coulby Newham, said: “I asked a few people at school who had been on the voyage last year what it was like and it was just as good as they said.
“The best bit for me was climbing to the top of the sails, which were more than 50ft above sea level, but the worst was one night of horrible sea-sickness, but I’d do the trip again ten times over.”
Bailey Walters, of Coulby Newham, who celebrated his 14th birthday on board, added: “This was my first time on a boat and it was more fun than I expected.
“I was allowed to steer the ship out of Canary Wharf, as we set sail, and a River Thames pilot came on board and shook my hand for doing such a good job and gave me his cap, which made me feel really proud.
“Climbing to the top of the mast was an incredible experience as before that I was scared of heights. I’d definitely recommend the trip to the Year 9s next year.”