Article thanks to Julie Porter.
Operators of Hobart’s oldest and smallest operating tall ship, SV Rhona H, Heritage Sailing Tasmania have sought to give an experience of traditional and classic sailing to all. They have recognised a developing interest by the younger generations (those yet to hit the 40 mark) in all aspects of the vessel’s operations, from hospitality, conservation, enhancing team work and the ethos of tall ships, (something which is also needed to ensure that access to wooden and classic boats will continue in years to come).
As a valued smaller member of Tall Ships Australian and New Zealand and Sail Training International, including being one of only three Australian vessels with Blue Flag recognition for marine conservation, it is important to recognise SV Rhona H’s role in youth development. “Sail training is an adventure activity for people of all ages and abilities. It includes instruction in all aspects of sailing, but its purpose goes far, far beyond this. Sail training uses the experience of being at sea principally as a means to help people learn about themselves, discover hidden strengths and talents and understand the value of working as a team”. (Sail Training International)
From the beginning there has been a strong youth presence associated with the vessel. SV Rhona H still sails the ways of the traditional sailing ketches which used to ply the waters of the Derwent and other Tasmanian waters. Built as a fishing boat by Ned Jack in 1942 for the Youl family in the northern areas of Tasmania, she was originally a ketch before her second custodian, a young Max Hardy converted her to a cutter rig around 1947. Rhona H was then operated as a fishing vessel for many years until a forward thinking Murray Young converted her to her current configuration (gaff-rigged ketch) in 1988-89 for sail training and tourism.
Sophie and Paige embark Young Endeavour (Image: Julie Porter)
Current operators have sought to grow and develop the younger generation, too. During the pandemic the emphasis became mentoring the youth crew and enabling them to develop their boat safe skills, including working towards commercial maritime qualifications and cross-decks experiences.
Significantly Damian was the first to gain a MED 3, while Sophie was the first to gain her Coxswains certificate. Then Sophie and Paige were supported on a Young Endeavour Voyage (Hobart – Hobart) just before the AWBF, before Sophie followed up with a voyage on STV Windeward Bound (Hobart – Sydney). Mika is looking forward to her cross-deck experience on New Zealand’s tall ship, Spirit of New Zealand.
Onboard the Rhona H the crew are expected to participate and engage with all aspects of operations. Although not a square rigger (many think tall ships are just those vessels with yard arms), Rhona H is a Class B vessel under STI classifications. Her crew gain life-skills in hospitality, conservation (particularly reducing waste), and ways of working to look out for each other and themselves.
Sophie, Mika, Liv and others! (Image: Julie Porter)
Youth years can be challenging, so the inherent health promotion with ways of mitigating fatigue and stressors of life is important in the Heritage Sailing Tasmanian philosophy. All crew are expected to achieve food handling certificates and encouraged to work through tasks aligned with industry standards. Our youngest junior crew member, Isaac, has been with us accompanied by a family member for over twelve months, and is now coming into his own as a fine young mariner, participating developing with confidence in line handling and hospitality. Meanwhile Kell has developed his knotting and splicing repertoire and can often be seen teaching other crew and guests whilst alongside as well as in the quieter moments once sails have been set.
We are proud of the younger generation of crew. They form an important part of the maritime industry, and it is these younger ones that will allow the boats to survive well into the future.
In the words of Mark Twain:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
To see more on SV Rhona H, click here.
To donate to the #AWBFnextgen campaign, click here.
Feature image thanks to Julie Porter – Kell teaching knots during our Knotting Events.