Year 11 student, Alby Winneke-Boyle, has recently returned to school after the adventure of a lifetime.

Along with 23 other young people, Alby went to sea for eight days aboard the Young Endeavour, sailing from Geelong to Sydney.

The Young Endeavour provides sailing experiences for young Australians and gives participants the full gamut of responsibilities that come with life aboard a rigged ship.

Despite a year spent travelling the world—Asia, Europe including Iceland, and the US—with his family when he was 11, Alby describes his sailing adventure as the best experience of his life.

Alby is close to his family and deeply grateful for their support.

In fact, he was inspired by his Dad’s stories of his own experiences on the Young Endeavour when he was a teen, deciding to apply and “mess up the year” dealing with the consequences later.

Sailors on the Young Endeavour learn about navigation, using both GPS and traditional sextants. They also observe the weather and learn how to work together to sail the 44-metre long, two-masted, square-rigged Brigantine ship—often accompanied by curious dolphins swimming alongside.

The novice sailors also learn responsibility and teamwork and have a whole lot of fun despite the hard work.

They didn’t have to scrub the decks, Alby says, but every morning there was a ‘happy hour’ of cleaning duties and checking all equipment was in top shape.

“It’s demanding work,” he says. “Hauling the ropes when the sails need to be raised, or the ship’s direction needs to be adjusted.”

Alby had one episode of seasickness in the midst of “crappy weather” out of Geelong and around the south-east coast of Victoria.

“The boat was really rolling,” he says. “Water was washing over the deck.”

One very rough night, during his four-hour watch, he had to climb up the rigging in the pitch black (fully-harnessed of course!) which he describes as “very scary, but very satisfying”.

For about half the time the crew could not see land, but berthed twice—once for a beach day and the second for a memorable visit to naval vessel HMAS Jervis Bay.

“We had our sea legs by then,” Alby says, “and were all rather wobbly back on land.”

Later that day they set up a spectacular rope swing off one of the yards (the cross-pieces sails are attached to) from which they flung themselves into the freezing ocean.

The log book he kept as part of his sailing experience allowed space for him to include quite a few drawings and he took a camera to capture the adventure in digital format.

Back on dry land… Alby came to BSSC from Castlemaine Secondary College at the beginning of 2022 determined to make the most of the opportunities BSSC offers.

“My first impression was, ‘I love this!’” Alby remembers.

He began the year with a conscious decision to improve his approach to school—and especially to start homework as soon as it’s given.

“The way the teachers treat you and teach you, along with a feeling of being respected and expected to take responsibility for your own learning—it’s worked really well for me,” he says.

“I never really pushed myself in the past, but this year I’ve taken on six subjects and I’m actually surprised how well I’m doing.”

Alby took his subject choice very seriously, selecting only subjects he knew he’d truly enjoy—Visual Arts, Art Fashion, General Maths, English, Outdoor & Enviro Studies and Psychology.

Despite his academic efforts, Alby is enjoying the social side of Year 11 and is relishing new friendships and the opportunities to meet similarly-focused people in his classes.

The decision to take part in the Young Endeavour voyage has placed extra pressures, but he’s working his way through rescheduled SACs.

“Yes, school is important, but it’s not the most important thing,” he says.

Once he has completed VCE, Alby plans to take a gap year, hoping to travel, and then enrol in an Art school.

No doubt he will continue to deepen his love of the ocean and surfing, and his interest in art is not merely academic.

Alby also plays soccer and is a musician—he plays the drums, piano and is learning guitar. He aims to be open-minded when it comes to music and consciously plays music from across the spectrum—from classical, to pop, to hip hop.

Given the opportunity to talk with anyone living or dead, Alby would choose Gandhi.

“I don’t have a clue what I’d ask him,” Alby admits, “but I would love to hear him speak. He was such a great teacher.”

Alby feels that 2002 has been an awakening.

“I feel super motivated to go for opportunities,” he says, “but I’m also appreciating all kinds of little things—like just being with friends.

“If I could go back and give some advice to my 12-year-old self it would be that… ‘enjoy the simple moments and don’t waste time on pointless things—things always work out in the end’.”