On Saturday 10th June 2017, an extraordinary day sail was organised for four students and their families from the Jockey Club Sarah Roe School on Outward Bound Hong Kong’s flagship sailing vessel; ‘Spirit Of Outward Bound Hong Kong’ (Spirit), a Challenge 67, twice round-the-world sail racing yacht.

Meeting sharp at 0900, all families had arrived on-time and ready to go, displaying faces full of smiles, excitement and uncertainty !

After meeting with the crew onboard, the courageous group of 12 were prepped with safety briefings, fitted with life jackets, stowed away their provisions securely and after given a final chance to step off the vessel, they cast off by 1000 for the open sea.

Whilst navigating their way out between the small islands that dot Sai Kung’s waters, the group were invited to assist with hoisting the ship’s mainsail, a well and truly daunting task of tug of war with a half tonne sail . With the help of some volunteering members and a series of in-tune heaves, the mainsail was hoist with ease, resonating achievement across the group having learned they performed far better than some Outward Bound course participants who have been on board recently.

The group was then invited to help the vessel on the way out towards the waters of Port Shelter being taught by the crew how to steer on a steady course and also steering relative to the wind.
After a few rotations through the helm, the crew rigged and hoisted a smaller head sail to then proceed sailing back and forth across the wind whilst inviting the group in taking command and steering the vessel on various wind angles. Many jumped at this opportunity, including parents!

It did not take long before some got too good at this and the crew decided to hardened up into the wind and thus creating a more exciting environment as the ship began to heel 5-10 degrees over whilst lightly beating out towards the Clearwater Bay Peninsula.

Shortly after 1200, ‘Spirit’ changed course to duck in behind Shelter Island and the crew subsequently handed the Stay sail to allow for a comfortable and suitable period on deck under the beautiful blue skies for a windswept lunch whilst cruising, ‘champagne sailing style’ on a reach under the ship’s mainsail.

After lunch, the crew hoisted once again. the stay sail, and proceeded to sail back, this time downwind in the direction of Outward Bound Hong Kong. During this passage, the crew checked in with the seafaring group to see how they were doing, discovering some were happy to head back but the majority (especially Hugh’s family) had not yet had enough! After a brief consensus the ship changed course heading back out into Port Shelter with a new course set to sail around the bottom of Jin Island across the waters into Rocky Harbour for an alternative yet scenic approach back to Outward Bound Hong Kong’s base.

Rounding the bottom of Jin Island shortly before 1400, the wind was less consistent and lightened up. Promising to deliver the adventurous sailors back by 1500, the crew handed the sails and began cruising back to base under motor as the general feeling showed that everyone was now ready to return and step back on solid ground.

The group was safely off the ship by 15.15 and given the opportunity to change with some sneaking in a quick shower. Shortly before 16.00 the everyone was well on their way battling through the typical weekend busyness on the roads heading for home or to other agendas arranged.

All in all a fantastic day out on the water on a lovely day with an even lovelier group!

Credit to: Donovan Chow (Ship Operations Manager)
Photos by: The Jockey Club Sarah Roe School