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Coleraine & District Battalion

Tall Ship Voyage with Sail Training Ireland

David Gilmore (1st Kilrea Company) recently participated in a ‘Youth Exchange’ project, which included a tall ship voyage, organised by Sail Training Ireland.

The week began with a weekend spent in the Mourne Mountains, mainly just to get to know one another. This was good, as it meant we already knew each other before setting sail. On Monday afternoon, we boarded the Gulden Leeuw (Golden Lion), and set sail in the evening. The group, 44 in total, were split into watches of 11. Each watch was on for four hours, and was responsible for navigation and steering, along with setting the sails for the duration of their watch, under the supervision of a crew member.

When not on watch, time was spent cleaning, cooking, sleeping, socialising and learning about the different sails and practising various knots. Not one for sitting around for too long, I got stuck into it outside of my watch hours, helping out around the ship with sails (they’re very heavy, it can take up to 20 people to raise one sail, depending on weather conditions).

Teamwork was vital to the safe running of the ship, as individuals performing the various duties have to communicate with the other groups to ensure the sails are set correctly, or that the wind isn’t about to change. Thankfully, my watch were good at communicating and by the end of the week we were able run the ship independently for the duration of our watch.

We finished the week by arriving at Dublin Port River Festival, greeted on the banks of the Liffey by by-standers and parents. This was a truly unforgettable experience, from which I’ve made some great friends, and learnt the basics of sailing. If I got the opportunity to do it again, I certainly would.

Sail Training Ireland focuses on education through challenge and results include confidence, respect, leadership, teamwork, a sense of adventure and new horizons. For more information, please visit

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