Anakiwa needs a new safety launch

Can you remember sailing an Outward Bound cutter in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds?

If so, you may also remember that there was always a launch close by, looking out for your watch and keeping you safe.

We have been working hard to raise the $450,000 needed for a new safety launch and thanks to generous gifts from our supporters we have raised $430,000 so far.

Now we need a helping hand to reach our final target.

We are required to have three fully operational powered launches to ensure all our educational sea activities can take place safely.

We use the launches to support sailing cutters, Waka Ama, long swims, and transporting students to various locations around the Sounds.

Meet Aria - feeling safe and secure really helped Aria who was terrified to sail before Outward Bound.

Kia ora, I had the privilege of attending the Taurapa Southland Outward Bound schools course in 2019.

My teachers told me I had been selected as the recipient of a scholarship to OB because I showed potential for a leadership role but I’d needed some help with my self-confidence to achieve this.

At first, I felt very excited and grateful to be selected, but as the start of my course drew closer I started thinking ‘oh no, I don’t want to go’. I was really nervous about some of the activities. I’d seen on the website that we’d be sailing and have to do a solo in the bush.

As it turned out, doing my solo was a highlight. It was a great time for me to think about who I wanted to be and focus on setting myself some goals – and catch up on some sleep!

Sailing, on the other hand, was my biggest challenge at Outward Bound. I love going to the beach but I have a real fear of going in and on the sea. I think it’s the openness of it, and I’m scared of sharks and other sea life. Getting seasick doesn’t really help either.

Throughout the course, I was dreading sailing but knew it would come. When the time came, our watch was geared up and loaded onto a cutter before I had time to think about it.

Our instructors Jo and Andy were so good at taking us through all the equipment and showing us what to do. Then that was it, they got onto the safety launch, drew away from us, and we set off for a three-day sail.

At first, the sea was beautiful and calm, and I thought ‘this isn’t so bad, I can actually do this!’ However, it wasn’t long before we hit the wind just past Picton. The cutter was rocking and rolling, it was crazy as everyone was trying to get the sails under control and the cutter heading in the right direction.

Throughout the three days of sailing, my biggest fear was that we’d capsize, and I’d end up in the sea. I constantly kept looking to see where Jo and Andy were. Knowing they were keeping an eye on us from the safety launch enabled me to push through those fears.

On the last day of sailing, I was feeling more confident. I was finally able to enjoy being on the sea, and not be terrified as I knew if anything happened, Jo and Andy were only minutes away to help us. 

Aria cutter2

Aria 

Aria watch v2

Aria (centre) and her watch

Outward Bound School Director Simon Graney has witnessed many students like Aria overcome their fear of water through sailing as a team at OB.

Sailing provides an immeasurable feeling of freedom by harnessing the power of nature to travel the seas. Our students rely on their own recently-learned skills to pilot the cutter safely. But newly acquired skills are not always 100% reliable, and the winds of Queen Charlotte Sound can surprise even seasoned sailors.

Reliable launches accompanying the journey of a cutter mean that we can achieve the substantial margin of safety that we demand and allow the instructors to jump on and off the cutter as conditions change.

This means instructors can remove themselves and give students the independence to experiment and learn from their own mistakes. It also means that when things get tricky or demanding, the instructor can step back aboard and provide the coaching that will allow the watch to feel safe and thrive. 

Our current fleet is made up of two ‘Tortuga’ launches: the Kurt Hahn and Sir Roy, which were built especially for us in the ’90s. 

The third launch in our fleet is the Matakana. Originally a life-boat from the Wahine ferry, the Matakana was converted into a safety launch for us in the 1970s and is now overdue for retirement. 

As each of our three cutters needs a solid accompanying launch, it’s now time for us to commission a third Tortuga launch. The three launches are a key element of Outward Bound Anakiwa’s significant incident response capability – which reflects our ongoing commitment to ensuring that the school does not place a strain on local safety and rescue resources.

Simon Graney - School Director

Safety launch

The Matakana launch to be replaced

Safety launch2

One of OB's Tortuga launches

Here’s what happened next when Aria went home...

I have already achieved a few of the goals I set for myself at OB – I have been made Head Girl at Central Southland College! This time last year I would never have thought that possible. What I learned at OB really helped me get the role. 

Another goal I set for myself at OB was to explore my cultural heritage. Being Māori and growing up in rural Southland, I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to embrace my culture. 

When I was at OB, I got inspired to study harder with my te reo Māori. The work paid off and I made my family (and myself) very proud by achieving a First in te reo as well as the Māori Leadership Award.

I loved that they spoke lots of te reo at Outward Bound and I think this helped me find myself. 

I’ve also developed a better understanding of who I am. OB taught me I can be the person I want to be. I was able to think without a phone and distractions and decide what is important to me, how I want to treat others and be more understanding and accepting of differences. 

As Head Girl, I feel confident I will be able to set a good example for other students and be someone they can look up to. 

My plan for next year is to go to uni. I have decided I want to help young people, so I’m looking into studying teaching or social work at Otago University. 

“Manaaki whenua, Manaaki tangata, Haere whakamua. Care for the land, Care for the people, Go forward.”

Now I’m proud to say I fully understand the meaning of this quote.

Aria Blair-Roberts

Huriwhenua 653

Aria web 2

Make a donation towards OB's new Tortuga safety launch

With your donation we can build a safety launch and ensure students like Aria can continue to experience the unique challenge of sailing in the Marlborough Sounds aboard an Outward Bound cutter.

DONATE HERE