All aboard Leeuwin II!

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by – from Sea Fever by John Masefield.

I was very fortunate recently to step into a world of adventure and yesteryear aboard the Sail Training Ship (STS) Leeuwin II. It was my first time on a tall ship and I loved every minute.

Leeuwin II has been based in Fremantle Port for over 30 years. She was built to provide young people with adventure with purpose and is operated by the non profit Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation Limited based at B Berth, Victoria Quay, Fremantle.

The ship is Australia’s largest sail-training tall ship, a beautiful three-masted 1850s-style barquentine. She’s one of only a handful of tall ships from Australia dedicated to the development of young people. Youth voyages bring out the best in young people, developing courage and confidence, communication skills, teamwork and leadership ability.

Leeuwin Ocean Adventure offers a range of voyage programs, including the Weekend Leadership Program for students and the Parent Project – a three-day camping adventure at sea – for parents and teenage children. Overnight Dockside Camps for school and other groups, evening events and Leeuwin’s popular three-hour day sails almost complete the picture. Finally, an annual voyage for adults sails from Monkey Mia to Geraldton.

Leeuwin II is named after the original Leeuwin, a Dutch galleon that discovered and mapped some of the southwest corner of Australia in March 1622 and gave her name to Cape Leeuwin. Leeuwin means lioness in Dutch.

On my three-hour sail, we left B Jetty at 16.00 and motored past the lighthouses to the open sea. Once in clear water, the ship went head to wind and hoisted sails. As Leeuwin is a working ship, passengers assisted in hoisting and setting the mizzen and mail sails, then setting a couple of the square rig sails.

Once the sails were set, the ship’s engineer stopped the engine. The Captain set a West North West course of 285 degrees, heading towards Rottnest Lighthouse. I got to steer the mighty square-rigger, holding her on a course, sailing close to the wind, in a moderate breeze of 14.2 knots.

Jean Hudson holding the course

Some brave souls donned safety harnesses and under the watchful eye of crew climbed the rigging to the first crow’s nest. Others took a trip out on the bowsprit netting, a great spot to look at the ship’s sails and watch the ship’s bow cutting through the water.

During the voyage, the fantastic ship’s crew and trainees looked after us and provided more finger food than we could eat.

Just beyond Gage Roads, the Captain gybed the sails and sailed back towards Fremantle. Outside the harbour, the sails were lowered, again requiring assistance from passengers. We motored back into the harbour while Mother Nature provided a fantastic sunset.

STS Leeuwin II offers a unique opportunity for everyone to sail on-board a magnificent tall ship. The enduring allure of tall ships continues – tall ship sailing is not quite like anything else you can do.

Have a go! I’m sure you’ll love the sailing as much as I – and everyone else on board – did.

Here’s the Leeuwin’s website, Facebook page, where to find them on Instagram.

* STORY and photographs by our Shipping Correspondent, Jean Hudson @jeansodyssey. Jean is also a regular feature writer and photographer here on the Shipping News. You may like to follow up right here her informative Places I Love stories, as well as other feature stories and Freo Today photographs.

Jean Hudson was a guest of Fremantle Ports


** Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to receive your free copy of The Weekly Edition of the Shipping News each Friday!