Daniel Simmons and his mum, Julie-Anne, were met with perfect sea weather as they boarded the Leeuwin STS II on Monday 7 February.
Daniel (15) and Julie-Anne took part in the Ultimate Dockside Camp at Victoria Quay in Fremantle on the Leeuwin, Australia’s only tall ship that runs adventure programs for people with disabilities.
The Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation partnered with Telethon, of which Rocky Bay is also a beneficiary, to provide this extraordinary experience for children aged 11-15 years who live with disability. Daniel was put forward by the Rocky Bay Wishing Tree as an enthusiastic participant in the dockside camping adventure.
Joined by parents or carers, or experiencing the adventure on their own supported by the Leeuwin crew, participants get to sleepover on the ship and take part in interactive activities to promote critical thinking, social and communication skills, confidence and independence.
“When we got on (the Leeuwin) we were able to explore above deck and below deck, have a good look around and take lots of photos,” said Julie-Anne.
After enjoying afternoon tea, participants were split into groups to take part in various games and challenges, including Jenga and quoits. They also learnt how to climb the masts (with a harness!), loosen the lines of the sails, tighten them, tie them off and to not step on the ropes – which Daniel warned will certainly mean “you go up” to the top of the sail if you misstep.
“I was the first to climb the rope,” said Daniel, who said the climbing and playing games in the saloon with the other passengers were his favourites parts of the experience. As well as spotting a pod of dolphins swimming by!
“The very top sail is about 200 kilos, it takes at least 10 people to lift it”, Julie-Anne explained. “So as a group we learnt how to heave and lifted it about 1.2 meters.”
Daniel and his fellow passengers enjoyed dinner and a hearty cooked breakfast made for them by the crew the following morning, before disembarking the ship.
“It was so much fun,” said Julie-Anne. “Everyone was involved – carers, parents, the kids – it was great.”
Daniel, who is a train enthusiast and loves learning about the industrial revolution and anything historical, is also a member of a model train association.
“When he finishes high school he wants to go on the Indian Pacific. That’s his thing – every time we travel, Daniel plans the train trip that goes with it,” said Julie-Anne.
When asked if he would embark on an adventure with the STS Leeuwin II again one day, Daniel said he wants to one day complete the Ultimate Challenge sailing trip!
A big thank you to the Leeuwin Ocean Adventure Foundation and it’s onboard crew, Telethon, and the Wishing Tree for making this memorable experience possible for Daniel and Julie-Anne.