My first trip was on British Defender (nicknamed Defa), who was named by the Duke of Edinburgh on London’s Thames River, she is a high tech Whitbread Around The World Racing Maxi that was raced by the British Armed Services during the 1989/90 Around the World Race. In 2001 Defa was converted into a Whitsunday Charter Maxi yacht. I really enjoyed this trip, and as this was work experience I assisted a lot with crew duties, such as cooking and cleaning, as well as helping with some of the 28 passengers and helping with sailing. The crew cabin on Defa is tiny, meaning only the skipper sleeps in there, and it’s also very hot below deck, so we slept on the bow of the boat, under the stars. This seemed like a good idea until it started raining in the middle of the night, so we had to move all our mattresses and bedding downstairs and find somewhere else to sleep (the floor being the only available space by the time I got down there). The next night however was much better, and after watching some David Attenborough with the other crew on the skipper’s laptop, I slept really well. Sleeping outside and on a boat means you get to see the most amazing stars, away from light pollution, the milky way is so clear and stars are visible all around you, ending only at the horizon. After every trip is an after party at the Down Under Bar in Airlie Beach, so after staying to clean the boat and prepare it for the next trip, and a well deserved long shower (showers are limited to 2 minutes on the boats), I joined the passengers for a few drinks.
My next trip began the following day on Broomstick (nicknamed Broomy), who was originally built in South Africa to win the Cape Town to Rio Yacht Race, going on to compete in many of the world’s most famous sailing events including Sydney to Hobart Race, before eventually being refitted to be a charter yacht in 2001. I took part in similar duties on Broomy, although some elements of sailing were slightly different. I also got the best job of all (and in case you couldn’t tell I’m being sarcastic here) of pulling apart 10 roasted chickens, for dinner. Other fun jobs included cleaning the heads (boat lingo for toilet) and cleaning mould off the ceilings with vinegar. On Broomy all crew sleep in the crew cabin, which is the same as passenger cabins but not as nice. Of course there was lot of great stuff I got to do as well, like more snorkelling, lots of sailing and going to Whitehaven again. I also did another trip on Broomy over the weekend, which was just as good.
When we got back into the marina on Monday, I helped clean the boat for another trip starting the same day. I also had another trip starting a few hours later, but on a different boat. This boat was called Boomerang (nicknamed Boomers) and was originally built in Italy to compete in the world’s most recognized races. She had great success including 1st place in the World Maxi Series Race, in addition to other race wins in the USA, Japan and NZ, before retiring from racing and being refurbished for Southern Cross Sailing in 2009. I had 3 trips on Boomers and she became my favourite boat out of all of them. The skipper understood I really wanted to get a job out of the course so gave me lots to do, including preparing some meals on my own. Despite the course being aimed towards people gaining the experience to get a job, the crew were often hesitant to ask me to help (due to previous bad experiences with LTE’s apparently), so I had to make sure I asked if I could help as often as possible. After 3 trips I felt like I knew a lot more about sailing and how Boomerang runs, I even got to take passengers on the bushwalk and to Whitehaven beach on my own. I often get asked if I ever get seasick, the answer is yes, on the first morning of the trips, the sea often gets rough in the place we anchor over night, making the boat move around a lot, which is fine unless your below deck trying to clear up breakfast, enough said (although it only happened once!).
This was the end of my LTE course so of course I ended it with a night out with the crew and passengers from my last trip. Overall the LTE was a great experience, I learned so much and met lots of great people both passengers and crew and while I really hope to get a job out of the course, I’ll still be glad I did it if I don’t.