Students swap desks for decks

Dr Helen Edge, Alex Paton, Louise Mclean, Cory Agnew, Jacob Carr, Ben Walker, Sarah McGuigan and Shannan Hill on board the Stavros S Niarchos.
Dr Helen Edge, Alex Paton, Louise Mclean, Cory Agnew, Jacob Carr, Ben Walker, Sarah McGuigan and Shannan Hill on board the Stavros S Niarchos.
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Seafaring students have shared their adventures on the high seas after returning from a once-in-a-lifetime voyage.

A crew of Year 9 students from Bede Academy, Blyth, dropped anchor at Port of Blyth after a nine-day passage to Brugge on the British Tall Ship Stavros S Niarchos.

They formed part of a crew of 37 from the Emmanuel Schools Foundation.

Bede biology teacher Dr Helen Edge, who is a volunteer with the Tall Ships Youth Trust, which operates the 60-metre vessel, said: “This is our seventh ESF annual Tall Ship voyage and for many of the students it will have been a life-changing experience.

“A Tall Ship voyage really takes young people out of their comfort zone and as well as helping them learn life skills, confidence and team work on a practical level it also helps them learn first-hand about sailing, geography and weather systems. Everyone has had an incredible time; some struggled a little bit in the beginning, others took to it straight away, but they all came through in the end.”

The students, who boarded the vessel at Canary Wharf, London, took part in all ship duties including helming, scaling the 50-metre masts to set and stow sails, navigating, scrubbing the decks, cooking for fellow shipmates and night watches on the bridge.

Bede Academy student Louise Mclean, 14, of Blyth, said: “This was my first time on a boat and I did find it a little bit scary but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, especially the night watch and seeing the sun rise over Belgium.”