SAILING with dolphins swimming alongside, negotiating winds gusting up to force eight and conquering sea sickness – 11 Grimsby-area youngsters experienced a unique maritime journey as part of events to mark our tenth anniversary.
The young people, whose ages range from 15 to 24, travelled by minibus to Plymouth where our yacht was moored – having just completed the Rolex Fastnet Race as part of a fund-raising private charter.
Boarding the yacht, they then sailed to Brixham where, with thanks to supporters’ relationships between Grimsby and the Devon fishing town, the young people dined at the restaurant run by well-known celebratory chef Mitch Tonks. They then toured Brixham Fish Market – a visit that was planned to highlight the intrinsic links between the town and Grimsby – the latter still having one of the most important markets of its kind in Europe. The fish processing sector across both sides of the Humber still supports more than 5,000 jobs with the fishing industry supporting 24,000 jobs across the whole of the UK.
Ably led by our Director of Sailing Danny Watson, the party then embarked on a five-day sail back up to Grimsby – the last day spent ploughing through winds gusting up to force eight on one of the stormiest days of the UK summer so far.
“It certainly wasn’t a summer sail that we would expect this time of the year, it was more like one of the last autumn sails of the season. For all these young people to cope with that, along with the sea sickness that went with it, shows just how much resilience they had built up over the journey,” said Danny.
Despite the stormy last day weather, before pulling into Grimsby Dock East, the home of Grimsby Fish Market, on Saturday morning, the young people all said they had enjoyed the ‘experience of a lifetime’, one of the highlights being the three dolphins, which had followed the yacht for 15-minutes along the English Channel. They also thanked all at Mitch Tonks’ Rockfish restaurant in Brixham for the chance to taste a varied selection of seafood, including oysters and squid – a first for them all.
Oasis Academy Wintringham student, Jonathan Bennett, 15, said: “This has shown me how I can do anything in life. The whole experience has given me so much more confidence. If was fantastic.”
Grimsby teenager Will Wells, 17, added: “This journey has pushed me to my limits, and I now know that I can achieve so much more in life if I put my mind to it. And there are always people who are around to help you.”
Michelle Dalby celebrated her 16th birthday on board and was taking part in the sail before going to the Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education to study Health and Social Care: “I have had the best week of my life, it has been brilliant and given me so much more confidence,” she said.
The young people are part of our summer programme that is running in Grimsby. Designed to support their journey into adult life and steer them on the right path, this particular programme is complementing the charity’s three-year Full Families programme, which is currently working with around 60 families from some of North East Lincolnshire’s most challenged communities. A number of the young people on the sail were from families on that programme, which is running in partnership with fellow Grimsby organisation CPO (Creating Positive Opportunities).
All of our programmes give participants the opportunity for a long sail on our ‘floating classroom’, which is proven to have a long-lasting effect on participants’ motivation and confidence. Taking them away from their usual environment, the journey opens their eyes to a different world, and they are supported to work in challenging conditions with freedom from outside influences and peer pressure. This, explained Danny, allowed participants to approach the next chapter in their lives with added confidence that they can achieve.
“The achievement for me was seeing all of these 11 young people sail back into Grimsby together and that could easily have not been the case at the start of the journey. They all overcame any fears, and home and sea sickness, and worked together as a team. They should be extremely proud of themselves, as we are of them,” added Danny.