Sailing Adventure – Just the Ticket

SGT Tony White 1RAR, pictured, is no sailor, but he is a watch leader on an old-fashioned two-masted schooner.
And, in the first couple of days in July, he will be shepherding a flock of 1RAR sailing newbies when they sail out of Townsville on an overnight bluewater voyage up to 10kms from shore.
The sailing jaunt is meant as a team building exercise for the Battalion’s competitive Duke of Gloucester Cup and reward for the AASAM shooting teams.
They will be sailing on the South Passage, a 30m (100ft) gaff-rigged schooner, built in the same style as a Massachussetts pilot ship circa 1880.
“She’s fast, just as the 1880s pilot ships were, because they had to go out and meet the big ships coming into harbour, and the first pilot there could command the best rates,” Tony said.
The South Passage is sailed by the not-for-profit organisation Sail Training Association of Queensland and its primary aim is to provide adventure sailing for teenagers.

Passengers pay for the adventure, then are likely to find themselves hauling on sheets to set the sails, swabbing the decks, or, any one of the myriad other jobs that need to be done on a traditional sailing ship.
Tony said there were three watches on each voyage and they shared the duties, including looking after the ship during the night.
“We take them through all the safety aspects of the ship,” Tony said.
“Then, how to steer her, how to set the sails, how to pull the sails down, how to coil the lines and tie them up and, importantly, how to clean the ship, including the heads.”
Tony said about the only jobs they did not get to try on the ship were in the engineroom and the galley.
“It’s all about getting them out of their comfort zone, and working with people in a way they might not have done before,” he said.
Tony got involved when he bought a ticket as a passenger on a similar ship – the Leeuwin II – in Western Australia, although she is a square-rigger, a barquentine.
They sailed up to the Abrolhos Islands, Ningaloo Reef and the Montebello Islands.

“I was interested because the Montebellos is one of the places where the British tested the atomic bomb,” he said.
It was a 12-day voyage – which he loved – and afterwards, he received a letter asking if he would like to become a watch leader.
He was at Puckapunyal at the time, but was down to go to Western Australia the following year, so he took them up on the offer.
When he was posted back to Townsville, he had only to complete one voyage as a trainee watch leader before being qualified on the South Passage as well.
It’s difficult to line up the sailing opportunities with leave, but he usually manages to get in at least one or two voyages each year as well as a few day sails.
He’s happy to talk sailing to anybody who wants to listen… track him down at HQ 1RAR.