It was a real privilege to be invited to attend a dinner hosted by the team behind the Tall Ship Pelican of London at the end of August this year. The Pelican team have a passionate belief that adventure sailing is a compelling and impactful way of developing young people, releasing their potential and inspiring them with passion for the ocean. Having met five of the young people, fresh back from their most recent voyage it is easy to see why. With an age range of between 15 and 21 the young crew shared stories of their feelings and fears from before the voyage; explaining their nervousness towards a new environment, their lack of confidence and their concerns for the nature of the work on board a tall ship. All of that had gone within the week. We met five confident, bright and articulate young people who had obviously gained a great deal from their time onboard Pelican.

A typical voyage onboard the Pelican of London blends traditional seamanship skill training with hands-on experience of sailing. Alongside this teamwork, leadership and marine science are built into the schedule. The most recent trip was generously supported by Plymouth University through the provision of scientists and equipment that together enabled a number of experiments and data-gathering operations to be conducted during the journey from Plymouth to Cork and back.

We speak of sustainability a lot in the Blue Economy. Indeed, we at NLAI describe the Blue Economy as sustaining ocean environments and the people and economies that rely upon them. For the Blue Economy to be truly sustained, though, those of us within the domain must take the responsibility of inspiring and engaging future generations of advocates. The Pelican of London team have met this challenge head on.  As well as the immediate personal and social benefits gained by the young participants, the experience opens their eyes to the potential of a career at sea. The impact of this should not be underestimated. In every sector of the EU’s blue economy (except tourism), young people represent less than 10% of total employment – yet demand for new skills, entrepreneurship and innovation is high, so more definitely needs to be done to expose young people to potential ocean-based career routes.

We are delighted to be exploring ways of working with the Pelican of London team as they plan their sailing schedule for the next year. Members of the NLAI team will be supporting learning and events onboard.

The Tall Ship Pelican of London is a registered charity and so is always looking to engage with businesses, academic institutions and other organisations that can support their important and inspiring work or take part in their voyages. To learn more about the Pelican of London please visit their website or make contact directly with us so we can connect you.