Maeve O’Hagan is taking to the high seas - on a 19th century ship!
The 2015 Tall Ships Races is set for Belfast in July and Portadown girl Maeve will be climbing on board as a first-time sailor.
“I set myself a goal to take part in something new this summer,” explains Maeve.
“I had a look online and saw that the Tall Ships were coming to Belfast, and decided to apply to join a crew.” The 20-year-old, currently in her first year at Queen’s University, Belfast, is unfazed by the fact that she has never sailed before:
“I applied online with the Ocean Youth Trust - a sail training charity - and was shortlisted for interview. I joined the rowing club at university, which has let me develop my teamwork and leadership skills; these will be really helpful when we’re on board the ship. After getting through the interview stage, we had a training session down at the Titanic Quarter and were taught what not to do - learning from the Titanic as an example! That was a bit daunting!”
The Tall Ships last docked in Belfast in 2009, and this year nearly 80 ships are travelling from across the globe - as more than half a million people look on. Maeve is sailing in the Pelican of London, which will be manned by a Dutch crew. Once on-board at Belfast docks, she will travel with them on the 10-day journey to Norway, during which she’ll have a range of responsibilities.
I had a look online and saw that the Tall Ships were coming to Belfast, and decided to apply to join a crewMaeve O’Hagan
“As crew members, we’ll have routine watch systems and will be getting up during the night to carry out our duties. We’ll take turns to adjust sails, steer the ship, keep up morale, and prepare meals with the chef.”
Although Maeve signed up without knowing anyone else applying, she quickly made friends during the interview stage and hopes to see them once the ships dock in Ålesund on the west coast of Norway. The Food Science student is no stranger to adventure, either.
“Before starting university I took a year out, during which my brother and I travelled around Eastern Europe. Instead of going down the normal route of buying inter-railing tickets before we went, we just booked our outgoing flight to Poland and a flight home from Milan. It was brilliant - at one stage, we hitch-hiked from Salzburg in Austria to Slovenia!”
The Tall Ships arrive in Belfast on Thursday, July 2 and stay until Sunday 5, when they begin their annual race. Visiting the Tall Ships is completely free, and there will be a variety of events and activities running alongside their stay in the city.
To find out more about events and plan your trip, visit www.tallshipsbelfast.com.