My Days aboard Spirit were the absolute best of my life. The amount of gratitude and respect I have for Karen because of the opportunity she gave me is hard to define - as is my experience on The Spirt of Adventure.
As I embarked on the beginning of my Spirit journey I was overflowing with nerves and the uncertain suspense of what was to come. Immediately being welcomed with friendly faces my worries faded quickly. On day one I settled in with my watch and threw myself into getting to know all of the thirty-nine trainees onboard. The second day we managed to get every single sail the ship had up and running which was a challenge considering the majority of us were teenagers with zero experience in sailing. By now I was beginning to realise that Spirit for me was about conquering every challenge you possible could. One challenge my beloved watch failed to completely conquer on day three was rafting. We came a solid last every time we got out on the water but we all learnt a lesson in teamwork and humility. The fourth day involved a tramp around Great Barrier Island which was the only time on the voyage I wished for my phone - the views were stunning! Day five started with midnight snacks on night watch while schools of fish jumped around the boat. The sixth day onboard was filled with a fair bit of frustration coming from sleep deprived teens. The next day the mood was back up to full throttle with our mock christmas in full swing. We had everything from christmas cookies to the full roast with all the trimmings. The candle lit Christmas carols on deck were a highlight of the voyage for me and it was the first time I began to really feel sentimental about leaving Spirit and my new found friends behind. Day eight my watch finally managed to come first while rafting and while paddling through a cave no less. This along with the water being the warmest it had been all voyage made the day very memorable. However the stand out day for me had to have been trainee day. I was voted into being one of the cooks and spent most of the day desperately trying to scrap together something half as good as what the proper cook could do. Somehow in between all the burnt jam and potatoes forgotten about in the corner we managed to feed everyone onboard. Around all the chaos I also got to witness my absolute highlight of the trip. A pod of five dolphins surrounded the boat and we swam with them for over an hour. Swimming alongside dolphins and getting to hold their gaze is an experience that I will never forget.
As the night came around and turned into morning I was genuinely sad. I had to leave the thirty-nine people who had now become like family to me. I’d witnessed the huge personal growth not only in myself but far more inspiringly in everyone else onboard. The fears that were conquered and the difficulties that people had overcome on the voyage were quite simply astounding.
Since the voyage I feel like I have come home a different person. I continually challenge myself to live up to what Karen and Spirit provided to me. I challenge myself to be more self confident and to strive to reach my goals and ambitions. I encourage and even challenge you to put yourself forward and experience Spirit of Adventure for yourself.
Cameron Trought receives his winner's certificate from Karen Franklin - 31 May, 2016