A GROUP of pupils from St Michael’s Middle School were the first young people to set sail on a residential voyage with Tall Ships Youth Trust in more than a year.

The charity hasn’t been able to run residential trips since the first lockdown last March due to Covid restrictions and social distancing measures.

However, following Trustees' approval it now has the green light to take school group bubbles on residential voyages, and on Monday, June 7, ten pupils from the Wimborne school departed from Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays Marina at 3pm.

The young people aged 12 to 13 joined a professional crew of four sailing staff who guided them through their five-day adventure at sea, sailing from Portsmouth and along the Jurassic coast.

Youth Development and Volunteers Manager at the charity, Chas Cowell said: "We’re really excited to welcome pupils from St Michael’s Middle School onboard our Challenger for the week.

"Our residential voyages equip young people with valuable life skills that they carry with them into adulthood and beyond.

"We know the positive difference a week at sea has on the young people who sail with us and we can’t wait to get started again."

Once the young people join one of the charity’s 72 foot Challenger yachts, they become active crew members and take responsibility for various tasks.

Living and working together in close quarters, they learn to work as a team, hauling ropes, operating the winches and helming at the wheel.

Under supervision they also cook all their own meals in the galley kitchen below deck.

Tall Ships Youth Trust has put in place covid-safe sailing protocols that include social distancing measures, regular cleaning of the vessels and hand sanitising for all crew members.

In addition, the young people and sailing staff can only embark on their voyage following a rapid lateral flow covid test showing a negative result.