Have-a-go teenager Jade Drinnan sets sail on James Cook

The 16-year-old was a pupil at Rastrick High School when she was sponsored by Brighouse Rotary Club to take part in the six-day voyage along the coast of northern England to Dunbar in Scotland.

She was sailing with a group of 12 young people aged from 14 to 17, sleeping and eating on board and helping to sail the 20-metre ketch. “It was a bit awkward at first because none of us knew each other but it didn’t take long before we were talking to each other. We all had to work together on sailing the ship and doing the chores. We all had to take turns at cooking the meals and cleaning.”

Jade had impressed members of the Youth Opportunities Committee of Brighouse Rotary Club and they agreed to put £450 towards the trip. Her mum Sue said: “Jade will have a go at anything, the bigger the challenge the more she likes it. I am very pleased that Brighouse Rotary gave her this opportunity because otherwise she would not have been able to go.”

Jade joined the James Cook, which is operated by the Ocean Youth Trust NE, at South Shields. “I had never been on board a boat before - apart from in a museum. The sea was quite choppy at times and we sailed through a hailstorm.

“I felt a bit queasy at first but after a couple of days I got my sea-legs and started to relax. When you’re lying in your bunk all you can feel is the boat going up and down - but we were so tired at the end of the day that we didn’t care. We saw seals and dolphins and we all got turns at taking the watch.”

A keen rock-climber and abseiler, Jade is hoping to have a career as an activities instructor. “It was quite scary at times. When we were coming into Dunbar, a rope sheered off and the boat was being bashed into the side of the harbour but the instructors were fantastic at giving us confidence. They made us listen and follow their instructions because our safety depended on it. We had to take it seriously and learn how to do things properly. On the way back from Dunbar we sailed all through the night which was an experience I’ll never forget.”

 There was a setback for Jade when she contracted tonsilitis shortly after the trip started and she had to be taken ashore for a dose of antibiotics at Amble but it didn’t dent her enthusiasm and it has given her a new taste for adventure. “I made some good friends by the end of the trip and I’m hoping that we’ll get the chance to meet up in the future. Going on the James Cook was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” she said.

Ken Langford, former chairman of the Youth Opportunities Committee said Jade had impressed Rotary members with her bravery and determination. “I accompanied her to South Shields to start the trip and her face went white when she saw the size of the boat. But to her credit, she got on with it and gave us an excellent talk at Rotary about the voyage.”

Brighouse Rotary Club supports two schemes for young people - the Youth Leadership Awards and the James Cook Experience. The four high schools in Brighouse were contacted and asked to put young people forward for the schemes, the successful applicants were then chosen by the committee. “Jade has gained a great deal of confidence and learned new skills from this experience and we were delighted.

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