Youths sail into high adventure sail into adventure

THE chanting went: ''Let's go sailing. We love the sea . . . We love Adventure Ship! . . . Heart! Heart! Heart! We have a Huan's Heart!'' That first day of Easter holiday was chilly and windy. However, the spirit of the 34-member team on board Huan, the 20-year-old Chinese Adventure Ship, was high - for the group would soon embark on an exciting four-day journey into Hongkong waters for both sea training and water fun! These young adults are participants in the annual four-month training programme offered by the Adventure Ship Youth Association (ASYA).

''Our aim is to develop character, potential and leadership in young people,'' said Daniel Yau Chi-choi, ASYA's director.

At the heart of the course is the training of volunteers for Huan , as the Adventure Ship's chief aim is to give those youngsters a chance to experience sea adventure and take part in nautical activities.

''We are a charity organisation that serves mainly those between 10 and 21 years,'' said Mr Dominic Brittain, vice-chairman of the ship's board of directors. ''But our priority is handicapped, disadvantaged youths who would otherwise not have an opportunity to go sailing.

''Through the experience, we want to help them build character and self-confidence.'' At present, five full-time instructors make up the permanent ship crew. To carry out the project, they need assistance from volunteers from ASYA who have completed basic training.

Therefore each year ASYA offers a training course that includes lectures on navigation theory, volunteer work, as well as workshops in camps and a two-to four-day practical experience on board Huan, all at a minimum cost of $350 each.

Mr Yau, who is also one of the six directors of Huan, said the course members would sail into the cleaner waters of Sai Kung, Lamma and Lantau.

''On board they would learn abseiling, rope work, windsurfing, operation of a life-raft, survival exercises, besides steering, controlling and anchor-watching,'' Mr Yau said.

In their mid-20s, many of this year's course members are already experienced volunteers on land.

The 27.4-metre sailing junk depends on local sponsorship to pay off its yearly maintenance cost. Recently the 28th Squadron of the Gurkha Transport Regiment donated $10,000 for sponsoring trips.

Huan can accommodate 50 to 60 people for day or night trips. It is available for hire to youth or community organisations, schools and children's homes.

Sponsorship is available for the disadvantaged, depending on needs. The trip's season runs from April to March the following year. Booking can be made now by calling the Adventure Ship at 554-9722.