From Classroom to Sea: Year 11 Sea Trek Expedition

This week, the Year 11 Outdoor Education students set off on their two-day Sea Trek expedition. Here, they put the skills they had learned in class into practice and developed the confidence to skipper a boat without any guidance.

In the lead-up to the Sea Trek, students undertook multiple lessons at the Marine Education Boatshed (MEB), learning to sail as a crew of three. They also had the opportunity to sail the Wanderer as a class.

In class prior to the expedition, the students learned about the local environment, flora and fauna, weather forecasting, including wind direction and swell, how these variables will affect where they will be able to sail, marine safety and safety requirements, and route planning in nautical miles. They also worked out the expected arrival times based on the conditions ahead.

Due to the Northerly winds and the available facilities at their camp, they spent both nights camping at Pelican Point on the Swan River.

The Journey Begins

Day 1: Setting Sail to Carnac Island

There was a window in the weather that enabled us to cross the ocean by motor to Carnac Island and then back up the Swan River to Pelican Point for the night. The students were outstanding, setting off from MEB (after setting up the boats and weatherproofing all supplies) at 11.00 am and arrived at camp at 5.00 pm.

Day 2: Sailing the Swan River

The second day brought ideal conditions to sail the Swan River. The students learned to lower their masts to be able to travel under low bridges into Elizabeth Quay for morning tea and Claisebrook for lunch. This was their first opportunity to fly upwind.

Day 3: Beating the Weather

With a forecasted front arriving by midday, the students made an early start, packing up quickly to return to MEB before the strong winds and rain hit. Due to the strong wind warning on this day, the students were not able to sail home but instead motored back.

What kind of activities did the students complete during the trek?

The students got to display and apply many skills that they learned in class over the years of studying Outdoor Education.

  • Camp Craft, including tent site selection, packing
  • Cooking on a Trangia
  • Skippering both a sail and motorboat
  • Crewing both a sail and motorboat
  • Learning to use a marine radio and effectively communicate with three other boats
  • Risk assessment
  • Navigation
  • Route planning, given the current weather conditions
  • Night watch
  • Team building games
  • Briefing and debriefing activities

What kind of leadership roles did the students take on?

The girls took on various leadership roles, including skippering the boat, route planning, leading the group and communicating with the group, ensuring they stayed together and were aware of any potential hazards. They also had to be on night watch, where they had to wake up for two-hour stints in the middle of the night to watch the boats, making sure they didn’t break anchor and that nothing was stolen.

What was the highlight of the trek for you?

Jodii Laurence, our Health and Physical Education teacher, said that she absolutely loved watching the students’ confidence grow. From being quite nervous on the first morning heading through the bridges and the Fremantle Port to absolutely nailing the journey home on the last day, I think there will be a few students asking for boats in the near future.

They were an absolute delight to have on camp and fully immersed themselves in the experience and showed initiative and perseverance.

What life skills do you hope the students have come away with?

Jodii said, “The confidence to try new things and step outside of their comfort zone.

“This camp is quite different to others in that we have no set itinerary, and plans are made and changed along the way due to weather forecasts. It’s a great skill for the students to be able to learn. Often in life, we need to adjust and change plans.”

Through a program like this, the students develop a myriad of skills. The students spend time away without technology and are fully present in the moment. They work as a team to set up boats, pack, cook, and participate in team-building games. They descide who will swim to the boat at high tide to retrieve the anchor, and honing leadership and communication skills. They also learn essential camping skills, the ability to plan ahead and pack appropriately, and the flexibility to adapt and make constant adjustments when things don’t go as planned. 

Some messages from the students

“It was a great opportunity to put the skills we have learnt into practice and develop the confidence to be able to skipper a boat without guidance.”

“We loved seeing the three pods of dolphins on the first day as we headed out into the ocean, it was amazing.”

Shaping Future Leaders- Jennifer Oaten

At Santa Maria College, we believe that leadership is a journey of learning, not just a title or position. For over 80 years, our Year 12 students have been at the forefront of shaping our school’s culture through their leadership. As one cohort graduates and another takes the helm, the baton of leadership is passed, igniting the potential within each new group of young women.

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