THE Sail Training Ship Young Endeavour docked at Abell Point Marina this morning and off jumped 24 youths who were still buzzing from the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"It was absolutely incredible," Chantelle D'Souza, an 18-year-old crew member from Sydney said.

Ms D'Souza said she did "a little bit" of sailing as a child but aside from that, the experience had been completely new.

"A lot of us don't have much experience but we all picked up on everything really quickly," she said.

"Within the first two or three days we'd learned everything and everything seemed to come naturally."

The youth crew spend the first seven days of the voyage learning the ropes of the ship and preparing to command it independently.

On day eight, the ship was put in complete control of the youths but under the close watch of the nine permanent crew on board.

Ms D'Souza said it was initially daunting to be in charge.

"For the first couple of hours we didn't have the confidence, but once we gained it we realised we knew everything and we just needed to take a step back and think," she said.

"After a while we realised 'we can do this, we know it all' and it was fine."

STS Young Endeavour Captain, Gavin Dawe, said it was a "fantastic" experience.

"It's been great to experience the Whitsundays (now) and there's been a great mixture of young people from all over Australia," he said.

"They've become such a close-knit team and they've all enjoyed it."

Once the STS Endeavour had arrived in Airlie Beach, a special group of people from Lifestyle Choices Mackay got to jump on board the ship for a three-hour sail around Pioneer Bay, with the ship fully commanded by the youth crew, displaying the skills they had learned over the 11-13 day voyage.

Captain Dawe said this was about engaging with different community organisations.

"We strive to educate the youth crew about giving back to the community," he explained.

The Rotary Club of Airlie Beach also had two people invited onto the ship, thanks to their relationship with the Young Endeavour.

Club Secretary Merewyn Wright said Rotary had sponsored young people to go on the STS Young Endeavour voyage in the past.

Rotary member TJ Bendeich was lucky to snatch up a place on board and French exchange student, Gabrielle Huguet was her guest.

The current youth crew will head out on the STS Young Endeavour from Abell Point Marina at 4pm this afternoon for the final night of their voyage and will return tomorrow morning at 10am.

STS Young Endeavour will be open to the public from 1pm-2pm this Sunday, July 10, free of charge.

A brand new crew will join the ship and begin their voyage on Tuesday, July 12, departing the marina at 4pm.


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