Wow. I’m an official, qualified, Ocean Youth Trust Scotland trained bosun now and I won’t shut up about it. Note: the official definition of a bosun is ‘a ships officer in charge of equipment and crew’, but that’s just a fancy way of saying we have to clean up the sick, cook the spaghetti bolognese, organise games that involve picking up cereal boxes with your teeth, be the rescue swimmer in the unlikely case that anyone goes overboard (but demonstrate every voyage just for good measure), help with the sailing, carry out engine checks and maintenance, and do any other odd jobs onboard the boat. In that order.
I admit, I had my doubts before I started the training weekend. I was going to be the youngest (they only let me go because
I hassled them so much I am so passionate – you’re supposed to be 16 haha) and I wasn’t entirely confident that I’d know things or remember things like, at all. To be honest, I was pretty sure I was going to end up in a pathetic and impractical mess on the deck whilst everyone else buzzed around perfectly competent and experienced and knowing exactly what to do in every situation.
But I love sailing and I love working with young people and in those situations I always remind myself that I am an overthinker and nothing ever ends up as bad as I think it’s going to be. Plus this is my future we’re talking about here and I want this more than anything. So if there are challenges that I have to overcome to achieve my dream, bring them on!
The weekend ended up being intense, but awesome. Everyone was there to learn and I surprised myself by picking things up a lot better and quicker than I thought. I was absolutely determined to get the most out of the opportunity and I did.
The best part is when you’ve been shown something, you practice it and then bam! eureka! You’ve got it. That’s the best feeling in the world to me right now. The BEST.
I made some really cool friends. I love it when you’re with people who are all aiming towards the same thing and everyone is focused and enthusiastic. That’s another awesome feeling.
Just like proving yourself wrong. Just like realising that ‘hey, I am capable! I can do that.’ I’m not saying I’d know everything or remember everything, but I can honestly say I could get on a boat as part of a team of sea staff with a group of young people now and know what my role as a bosun was and carry it out. That is so empowering for me.
Dancing round the galley with new friends making jokes and trying not to burn the food reminds me why I love this. Leading games instead of just taking part in them feels like moving forward and that is so exciting. I’m moving forward with my dream, I’m actually GETTING SOMEWHERE.
It’s not just me rambling on about how much I love sail training or how much it means to me anymore. I am now a bosun and I am on my way to making a difference. I am on my way to the future I’ve dreamed of for so long.
So what’s next? I guess I’m pretty focused on the challenge at the moment (and that’s fine because I can’t officially volunteer on voyages as a bosun until I’m 16), but as soon as next year rolls around you can be sure that I’ll be out on the water putting all those skills I learnt last weekend (and throughout all the other time I’ve spent with The Island Trust, OYT Scotland and CatZero ) about sailing and about making a difference in the lives of young people.
This past weekend taught me a lot about myself too. When I tell people about sail training I’m always sure to mention how incredible it is for boosting confidence and how it changes lives. Sail training has transformed my life, given me purpose and a way that I can help others of my generation and what the bosuns training has done for my confidence this weekend is incredible.
I wish I could give everyone in the world the opportunity to go sailing, to fall asleep at night straight away and not lie awake overthinking everything for the first time in years because you’re exhausted but content, to dance around that galley and laugh and then serve up a meal you created to hungry and appreciative people, to huddle up on deck in the wind and the rain with windswept hair and oversized overalls and not care about what you look like for a while, to heave those sails up as part of a team and then feel the effect of powering through the waves.
And just in the last couple of days, I’ve been able to give just one young person that opportunity. Because of the challenge we’re on, I had to drop out of a voyage with OYTS and instead of getting a refund, I decided to give my place to someone who would get a lot from the experience.
When I heard the story of the guy I’ve decided to give my place to, I knew it would really help him. And I AM SO EXCITED FOR HIM. Like, SO EXCITED.
I’m so happy to be able to give someone else the opportunity to have their life flipped upside down (in a totally positive way) just like mine was. My only fear is that he may get the bug and never be able to stop sailing again….oops….
One day I’ll help give more young people that experience, one I’ll be a part of that. I can’t wait.
How’re you doing?? What are your dreams????? How are you working towards them?? ❤