Sailing a 72ft yacht through the beautiful Scottish isles, competing in a dingy race, spotting huge minke whales, sun bathing on the deck and a birthday party on the boat, all in one week! Must have been an Ocean Youth Trust Scotland voyage. High Life Highland joined OYT Scotland for the second time with a new group of young people as part of the hugely successful “CashBack for Communities” project. Nine young people and their two group leaders set sail for the first time from Kyle of Lochalsh, stopping at Loch Kentra, Tobermory and Oban, clocking up a total of 90 nautical miles whilst having many adventures under sail on the way.
Sunshine at the beginning of the week resulted in shorts and T-shirts for all the crew and even a spot of sun bathing on the deck. It wasn’t all sitting back and relaxing though. The young people had to hoist sails, coil ropes, steer the ship, fill in log books, cook for the whole crew, clean and tidy the yacht (affectionately known as “Happy Hour”), and learn about knots and navigation. In amongst this hard work, all of the young people found the time to gain nine SQA level three qualifications in: listening, reading, speaking, writing, measuring, calculation, using graphical information, problem solving and working with others, as well as gaining their Royal Yachting Association’s Start Yachting Level 1 Award.
The wind did pick up throughout the week causing lots of excitement as the yacht tilted far over. One young person said “The boat literally went on its side! It was cool but scary.” Whilst another said “We went through some really rough waves and it was awesome!” The excitement wasn’t only restricted to time at sea. When the boat was docked up in the evenings, there were games involving chocolate pudding, a dingy race around the yacht and even a birthday party with cake baked in the boat’s own galley.
“The experience opened them up” said group leader, Anthony Hinchliffe. “The most striking thing to me was how the young people changed over the 5 days, from wary and hesitant teenagers to being part of a team and getting things done.”
High Life Highland is a charity registered in Scotland, formed in October 2011 by The Highland Council to develop and promote opportunities in culture, learning, sport, leisure, health and wellbeing across 9 services throughout the whole of the Highlands, for both residents and visitors. This was the second of two voyages that High Life Highlands undertook with OYT Scotland as part of the “On Course with CashBack” project.
OYT Scotland’s “On Course with CashBack” project is transforming 288 young people’s lives over three years thanks to an award from the “CashBack for Communities” scheme – the Scottish Government’s proceeds of crime fund. Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said: “Through CashBack we are supporting many of Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people to reach their full potential in life, helping them to learn new skills, boost their confidence and develop as responsible citizens.”
Nick Fleming, Chief Executive of OYT Scotland added: “We are excited to have young people from High Life Highland as part of the On Course with CashBack programme. OYT Scotland voyages offer young people a life changing opportunity, giving them a chance to take part in teamwork and leadership roles. These are transferable skills that can be used in other areas of their lives. This programme aims to develop young people and the group taking part in this voyage have demonstrated that it has been a success. Our highly trained sea-staff (both professionals and volunteers) are able to get the best from each individual. The combination of engaged group leaders and focused sea-staff means that these young people can reach goals that they never thought possible, and this can give them a whole new outlook on life”
Over the past 18 years, OYT Scotland has grown to become one of the leading sail training charities in the world. With two sail training vessels, Alba Explorer and Alba Venturer, OYT Scotland completed 55 voyages with 552 young people in 2016.
For more information about OYT Scotland go to www.oytscotland.org.uk/main-site/
For more information on High Life Highland go to www.highlifehighland.com
For more information on the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities scheme go to www.cashbackforcommunities.org