Leeuwin a first for new Kooringal director
Year 8 campers, who set sail aboard the Leeuwin II at the start of term, were blessed with mostly light conditions as the fifth and final voyage wrapped up this week. Onboard Voyage 2 was new Director of Kooringal and Co-ordinator of Outdoor Education Dave Anderson, who was impressed by the truly experiential journey set in the stunning World Heritage Site of Shark Bay.
Clear skies, warm days and beautiful sunsets generally outweighed windy conditions and bouts of seasickness for most of the voyages this year. The Year 8 Leeuwin Adventure, a partnership between Christ Church and the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation introduced in 2011, allows every Year 8 student to spend a week on board the tall ship as part of the School’s outdoor education programme.
The Year 8 students are among the youngest sailors to sail on the training ship and Christ Church is the only WA school to offer the compulsory programme. The aim of the innovative partnership is to expand the boys’ capabilities and sense of themselves through a highly challenging and inspiring team experience.
“The boys really impressed me,” said Mr Anderson, who is one of Christ Church’s newest staff members. Previously at Yarra Valley Grammar School in Victoria for seven years and the last two as the Head of Outdoor Education, David also ran his own business providing adventure programmes for the commercial and education industries.
“The Leeuwin is incredibly physical and emotional,” he said. “The boys are also getting pushed mentally a lot as there is so much to remember. It gets them really engaged in learning about the various aspects of sailing and safety. It is an experiential journey in the truest sense.”
On arrival, the boys are organised into ‘watch’ groups of up to 10 boys, in constant rotation on anchor, night and steering duties throughout the voyage. Learning about sails, lines and nautical terms, health and safety, goal setting and teamwork are interspersed with daily duties included morning exercises, cleaning (known as ‘Happy Hour’) and the Leeuwin Olympics.
This year, all voyages to date have been able to anchor and go ashore at Cape Inscription, the northernmost tip of Dirk Hartog Island. Here, the groups walked to the cape’s lighthouse where they learnt about the island’s history and read the plaque left to commemorate Hartog’s landing in 1616. The boys were able to spend the day on the island, swimming at the beach and enjoying a bit of ‘land’ time before heading back onboard.
Mr Anderson said he had great respect for a number of boys, who wore their seasickness “as a badge of honour” and overcame their fear of heights. “There were some boys, who were struggling to get off the deck at the start of the voyage. Then to see them climb to the top of the mast, 39 metres high, and read the plague at the top, really impressed me,” he said.
“Also, the way they supported each other. Checking on each other on “the line” (where a person suffering from seasickness is clipped to a safety line along the side of the ship) and giving a mate a rub on the back – that caring, human side is great to see in boys.”