I was 16 when I first stepped foot on a Challenger. My father had passed and my mother had just suffered three simultaneous strokes induced by a bleed on her brain from a ruptured aneurysm. I was surviving in my parents’ house, scared to use the heating or lighting because of the financial charges that my Mother would have accrued over her 3 years away from home. Fed and funded by the kindness of friends and family, I just tried to make it to the end of the day so I could go back to bed in my cold dark house. I had lost all drive and motivation to strive and succeed, I was just happy to see the sun go down at the end of the day.

Sailing with Tall Ships offered respite from my day-to-day depression and opportunity to see another side of life. At first, I was petrified, I hated the fact that the boat keeled and the rocking of the waves had me convinced we were capsizing. Come day two and the lesson on tying knots, I learned to attach myself to the boat via sail tie, bowline and stopper knots. By the final day, I felt I was ready to challenge Captain Jack Sparrow himself!

This voyage gave me an insight into a life of enjoyment and fulfilment. A life of educating other young people, who are in similar situations to myself, and giving them a new outlook on life is unimaginably rewarding. I wanted to succeed and help others again, I wanted to make my family proud and I wanted to mean something to people.

Following my voyage, I retook my A levels and am now studying Outdoor Leadership at UCLan University. I would like to see the world and I plan to revisit my homeland (Malaysia) to put a visualisation to the stories my mum and dad used to tell me. I would love to sail as a career; it’s truly beautiful feeling the ocean beneath you.

Honestly, I don’t think I’d be around anymore without my initial voyage. Tall Ships was the spark needed to ignite my trail of fortunate events in life.

I found hope on Challenger 1.

Thank you.

Watch Josh's Story here: