On Thursday the 19th of May ten Year 10 Students drove up to Auckland to hop on board of the Spirit of New Zealand boat to partake in a 5-day Trophy Voyage. They were on board with three other schools, Dargaville, Pāpāmoa and Glenfield. They settled into their bunks which consisted of rows upon rows of stretcher beds below deck. Very quickly they set off, leaving Auckland in their sites to hit the high seas. The weather was not on our side, so it was straight into wet weather gear and helping on deck. The afternoon was the first opportunity to start getting to know the other 30 students on board before settling into a bay near Waiheke Island. The next day consisted of (like all mornings did) being woken up at 6.30 am to get into our togs and jump into the ocean and cleaning certain areas on the ship. We then learned how to tie certain knots including the Reef Knot, the Figure 8 and the Bowline – it was great to see the team starting to come together and help teach each other these knots. We then had out first attempt at sailing, where each school had to work together at different sails. There were many games and challenges each night that consisted of points. The next day the team had their first go at rowing in a raft- this took a little bit of getting used to, but the team successfully paddled onto the shores of Waiheke Island, where the sun finally came out and we were able to play some games that the crew had set up for us. A few students braved the waters again and went swimming once back on board the ship. That night we had a knot tying competition which allowed each student to go up against someone from the other school to see who could tie certain knots the fastest. The following days consisted of more 6.30am swims – on one morning dolphins decided to join us, which was a highlight for many students. We enjoyed learning the ropes of all the different sails, which included setting them up, changing directions during sailing and packing them away – they were pros at flaking the sails. Each student got the opportunity to climb up on side of the boat, cross over and climb back down. On the last evening we had a music riff off against the other schools of which Thames came out on top as the winners. The last morning consisted of a big clean-up of the ship, one final raft race (we came second) and a pool party in the ocean where they got a chance to jump off the boat with a swing. The final hours were quite sad as none of them wanted to leave their new friends behind, so it was important they wrote down all their friends contact details on pen and paper as phones were handed in once they were on board the ship.
Although we didn’t take out the Trophy the students had a blast and learnt a lot of new skills. I think we will see most of them return for the 10-day voyage once they turn 16. We would like to thank the Spirit of Adventure Trust for this once in a lifetime experience. I don’t think any of us will be forgetting this past week any time soon.
Ms Madelaine Barrett