Ken's story: A Very Unique Sailing Experience

explore confident sailing

Written by Candy Yan

“I see myself a more independent person after the Outward Bound Course!” Ken Choi, a 15-year-old student from St. Paul's College has recently finished his Outward Bound journey course in April, 2017. His school values the importance of the challenge as a precious opportunity for students and teachers to come together with fun and teamwork to achieve the mission ‘We Care, We Respect - For Life, For All’.  They also commit to offering students not just a fun process, but also a setting for leadership development and team building. “We used to work on projects with teammates at school but this time was totally different! The setting changed from indoors to outdoors. It was totally new and fresh to us! We were so excited before embarking our sea journey.”

During the 5-day journey, around 168 students were assigned to various challenges at Outward Bound. Four groups of the students went to Wong Wan Chau, a remote island without any internet connection and land transportation while ten groups of the students stayed in Sai Kung bay area, learning to kayak, sail, and canoe. Ken was in one of the sailing groups. “Sailing on the ketch is our group’s theme. Every day our team learnt more about running the ship as crews but not passengers. We were taught the sailing tips and skills. And the most important thing---how to avoid seasick when you are floating on the boat. I was so lucky that I didn’t get any seasick!”


Among all the Outward Bound challenges, sailing is the most demanding and advancing challenge for young people like Ken. Students need to care for themselves and others in a wilderness setting, especially an unfamiliar setting on the sea. They need to work with their groups to get where they want to go and accomplish goals. Sailing is a very effective tool to reach the outcomes as all of the crews need to stay in the same area during the whole journey. They work together as they sail, cook, and navigate the terrain of the course. “We were more self-reliant and interdependent than we were in the school!”


Like the other peers, Ken was quite nervous before the journey. “Before the course I was quite worried about the sea journey. I had neither stayed on the ketch before nor left my home without my parents for more than a day and wondering if I could “stay alive” on the sea. Safety is always the issue that I always concern the most, so do my parents.” 

Before the course began, students and parents were informed that Outward Bound uses the SPoT (Satellite Personal Tracker system). This system offers peace of mind beyond the cellular network as it uses 100% satellite technology, allowing continuous monitoring and tracking of the actual route of the groups and instructors. Instructors can check in at allocated times with a push of a button and contact on call staff for assistance if required. The system also allows groups to summon emergency services without the use of the mobile network. We also run a thorough internal and external inspection program of the facilities and equipment to ensure sailing vessels are compliant with local and international regulations, emergency equipment is up-to-date and functioning properly. 

Ken remembers the adventurous and hard moments of his course. “Some photos which captured many adventure scenes of our group in the rough sea while the wave was shaking our ketch up and down. It was a tough journey and we missed our soft beds so much at night. But everything was worthy until we woke up at the break of dawn and marvelled at the beautiful red and orange colours of a sunrise above the sea horizon. The most important lesson I have learnt is that you keep going and don’t give up. And I didn’t give up. We were so lucky that they had the experienced instructors who had led us to go through the adversity and get back to safety in the end.”