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Ships Ahoy - Part six: Embarking on trip of a lifetime

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Thousands of volunteers of all ages will enjoy the adventure of a lifetime when they join the crews taking part in the Tall Ships Race 2015.

A total of 87 people from Northern Ireland will have undergone a rigorous selection process to join the excitement and earn their places as trainee crew members as the ships set sail from Belfast for Norway.

Race organiser Sail Training International is a charity whose purpose is the development and education of young people through sail training.

This forms a big part of the spectacle which thousands of people will see in Northern Ireland this summer.

Among the lucky teenagers to be picked to take part this year is 16-year-old Jane Emerson from Cushendall.

Jane has enjoyed a love affair with the sea since she was four years old and can't wait to help sail a tall ship.

She said: "I have been out in boats since I was four or five, but only properly sailing since I was eight. I sail from the local boat club and a few weeks ago I passed my dingy instructor test.

"However, this challenge will be a lot more difficult but I can hardly wait to get started.

"This will be the first time I will have been away from home on my own. My friends at St Killian's School near Carnlough keep telling me to shut up about the trip as I never seem to stop talking about it!"

Caitlin Foley (17) from Bally- nahinch is also taking part.

She said: "My parents are delighted that I got chosen, but my mum Brenda took a little convincing. I am an only child so it was natural that she had some reservations, but I told her it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"I have no concerns as I am well used to travelling abroad and I don't get sea-sick. My only slight worry would be if it gets really windy."

She says she is looking forward to meeting all of her new shipmates, especially as many of them will be from other countries.

She added: "I am on a Dutch ship but there will be other young people from all over Europe on board and working with them will be a great experience."

School teachers are also getting in on the act and when school breaks up for the summer, Keith Fleming will still find himself in charge of a group of children as he is a mentor on the Statsraad Luhmkul tall ship.

The 39-year-old from Belfast loves the outdoor challenge but admits he has very limited sailing experience - "a couple of goes at the Share Centre in Fermanagh, just paddling about on the lakes".

He said: "I really like walking in the wind and the rain in the Mournes. I know this will be tough but how often do you get to do something like sailing on a tall ship? I have been looking at the long-range weather forecast and the whole of Britain seems to be bathed in sunshine except for the north of Scotland, where we will be."

Complete the ship factfile page within your workbook and now write a report on your chosen ship.

Nautical terms

1. Maritime:

Something that relates to the sea

2. Keel:

The lengthwise timber or steel structure along the base of a ship that supports the framework of the vessel

3. Ahoy:

A shout used especially by people in boats to attract attention

Ship and country facts


Class A — 79.5m metres — Rig: Barque 3

Built in Bilbao in Spain, the Guayas is named after the river where the Ecuadorian Naval School stands and is used primarily to train young people for a naval career.

Launched in 1976, it carries a crew of 120 with 80 cadets and has undertaken several lengthy voyages, including crossing the Pacific in 2008.


Population: 13 million

Capital: Quito

Language: Spanish, Quechua

President: Rafael Correa


Class B — 19.85 metres — Rig: Gaff Schooner 2

The Rupel was built by unemployed young people and launched in 1996. The project was aimed at equipping the young people with skills which would enable them to find employment.

In summer, it sails along the Belgium coast, as well as taking part in Tall Ships races and other nautical events in northern Europe.


Population:  10.5 million

Capital: Brussels

Language: Dutch, French and German

Prime Minister: Charles Michel


Class D — 17.54m — Rig: Bm Sloop

This Whitbread Round the World racer (ex Rucanor) is the only Belgian sail racer to have participated twice in the prestigious Whitbread race (1985/1986 with skipper Staf Verluys and 1989/1990 with skipper Bruno Dubois).

She was designed at the end of 1984 and first launched in February 1985 at Breskens. The ship’s length is 17.54m.


Population:  10.5 million

Capital: Brussels

Language: Dutch, French and German

Prime Minister: Charles Michel

Spirit of Oysterhaven

Class C — 21.22 metres — Rig: Schooner

Although this ship is not taking part in the races, she will still be in Belfast for the festival.

Spirit Of Oysterhaven is a blue water cruising yacht, with generous accommodation for 12 in five cabins, plus a saloon. Built to an exacting specification by Joyce Marine, she was fitted out by Chantiers Labbe in St Malo for the original French owner in solid teak.


Population:  4.75 million

Capital: Dublin

Language: Irish and English

Prime Minister: Enda Kenny

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