It was with trepidation that Oliver Perrett climbed a 38-metre mast on his first night aboard the Young Endeavour.
He and fellow Galston High School year 12 student Courtney Pearce were among 27 youth crew who helped to sail the tall ship on an 11-day voyage from Devonport, Tasmania, to Sydney Harbour.
The Endeavour's Australian Navy crew taught participants aged 16 to 23 sailing rules and navigation before they gave them control of the ship for 24 hours.
Oliver was elected as captain and said the experience had given him more confidence.
"We would learn sailing skills during the day and rotate on four-hour night watches from 8pm to 8am," Oliver said.
"The first night we all climbed the mast. You don't have an option, being thrown into the deep end.
"I am terrified of heights but every single person stepped up and did it. Once you're up there the views are amazing."
Courtney said the crew stopped at New Year Island, near Tasmania's King Island, and swam at Jervis Bay on the way to Sydney.
Family members and people from a disability service were welcomed onto the ship for a half-day of sailing through the Sydney Harbour Heads at the end of the January voyage.
"The feeling of self-accomplishment afterwards was amazing," Courtney said. "They're things you'll never forget for the rest of your life."