Nineteen-year-old Jill Costley is taking to the high seas in July - on an 80 year old ship!
The 2015 Tall Ships Race is set for Belfast in July and Magheralin girl, Jill, will be climbing on board as a first-time sailor.
Each year, the Ocean Youth Trust offers applicants the opportunity to volunteer as a crew member on one of the Tall Ships and, after a successful interview, Jill was welcomed on to the seafaring team.
“I love challenges and being able to say I’ve achieved something,” Jill shared.
“I’ve done Duke of Edinburgh before and, while I didn’t really enjoy it at the time, it was when I looked back at it afterwards that I realised how worthwhile an experience it had been.”
Jill, a past pupil of Lurgan College, is currently studying Sport and Exercise Science at the Ulster University’s Jordanstown Campus. Although she has never sailed before, she is determined not to let the minor details get in her way - despite her tendency to get sea-sick: “A lot of people have asked me why I’m doing this - I’m afraid of fish and also get sea-sick - but I’m looking forward to it!
“We’ve had two training days so far at the Titanic Quarter and Shankill Leisure Centre: the first involved learning about lifesaving, and the second day we were out on the water on a sailing boat. We’ll mostly be learning on the job!”
For Jill, and the forty other young people volunteering on her ship, ‘learning on the job’ will involve a 10 day journey from Belfast to Norway - on a Dutch ship built in 1937. The ‘Gulden Leeuw’ is one of nearly 80 ships travelling from across the globe to dock in Belfast on July 2, and more than half a million people are expected to look on.
Once on-board, Jill will have to take on a range of responsibilities, including the upkeep of the ship and helping to navigate its journey north. After the Gulden Leeuw docks in Ålesund, located on Norway’s west coast, Jill will have a few days to explore, before her - somewhat more efficient - plane journey home.
“Apart from a mission trip to Romania a few years ago, this is my first time outside of the UK,” Jill explained.
“It’s definitely getting thrown in at the deep end - but it’ll be an adventure!”
The Tall Ships arrive in Belfast on Thursday, July 2, and stay until Sunday 5th, when they begin their annual race. Visiting the Tall Ships is completely free, and there will be a variety of activities running alongside their stay in the city.
To plan your trip, visit www.tallshipsbelfast.com