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INTREPID young adventurers have taken to the high seas for a once in a lifetime voyage.
A crew of 20 students from Year 9 from each of the Emmanuel Schools Foundation schools set sail aboard the 60m, Stavros S Niarchos tall ship from the River Tyne for a ten-night sea going quest.
They were part of a crew of 40 students from the sister schools, The King's Academy, Middlesbrough, Emmanuel College, Gateshead, Bede Academy, in Blyth, and Trinity Academy, Thorne, near Doncaster.
The annual adventure aims to support pupils' personal development through being a crew member and playing an active part of life aboard the ship, which is operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust.
Vice principal of The King's Academy and expedition organiser Gary Wiecek said: "Because the weather has been so unpredictable of late we are still unsure exactly where the ship will go. The captain has said that when they reach the mouth of the Tyne he will make the decision, so our students could travel to Scotland, London or even Holland and back before disembarking in Hartlepool.
"For many this trip will be a life changing experience. A tall ship voyage takes people out of their comfort zone and they will find things within themselves that they did not realise were there."
The students are living eight to a cabin on board and taking part in every aspect of sailing including helming, scaling the 40 metre masts to set and stow sails, navigating, scrubbing the decks and taking turns in the ship's galley.
They will also be expected to take part in one of three watches and get up for night duties at 4am.
Emmanuel College biology teacher James Ward said: "This is the third year that I have done the tall ships voyage and it is just brilliant.
"The trip is always a challenge and it's great to see exactly what young people can achieve when pushed to their limits.
"Working and living together on board as a team is also very rewarding and helps the students develop life skills, confidence and a real sense of achievement and self worth."
Vice Principal of Bede Academy Steve Nelson said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the students and we hope it will be an experience they will never forget and one they learn so much from.
"They will learn that being a crew member means taking responsibility for them themselves and for others, and they will have to operate as a group to ensure harmony exists on board."
Mr Nelson added: "We hope the students will learn and benefit from being independent, cooperative, compassionate, accountable and show determination and courage to carry things through."
Bede Academy student Connor Bath, 14, of Blyth, said: "I really wanted to do this as it's a once in a lifetime chance; it's not everyday you get to do something like this.
"I really want to experience being on a tall ship and learning different skills; I am really excited to be a part of it."
Emmanuel College student Callie Ferguson, 14, of Whickham, said: "This is something different to get involved in. I don't really like big things so this is quite a challenge for me.
"I am also scared of heights so climbing the mast is scary, but I want to face that fear anyway."
Fellow Emmanuel student Olivia Cossey, 14, of Gateshead, added: "This is the first time I have ever been on a boat so it's a brand new experience for me.
"It's a bit of a mystery at the moment, not knowing exactly where we're going. I expect we'll get cold and wet but it's all part of the challenge."
Ellie Walker 14, of Middlesbrough, said: "Loads of my friends have been on the ship in previous years and they all said how good it had been.
"I've been on a ferry before but never a tall ship so this will be an amazing experience. Not everyone can say they have crewed a real sailing ship for ten days."
Craig Venables, 14, of Doncaster, added: "This trip is going to be amazing. It's my first time on a tall ship and I can't wait to get going."
All students who applied to take part in the voyage had to say what benefits they would gain personally from the sailing adventure.
Youth development and training manager of the Tall Ships Youth Trust Chas Cowell added: "It's a very positive experience for the students. They will learn essential communication skills and how to work as a team and think of each other.
"Everyone will move forward in their personal development."