Endeavour: A Belated Gap Year

Nicolas Bracco. Image: ANMM.

Nicolas Bracco. Image: ANMM.

A blog series from on board the Australian National Maritime Museum’s HMB Endeavour replica as it sails from Adelaide to Port Lincoln. See our Sail the Endeavour page to learn more about joining voyages like this.

Nicolas Bracco decided to take his Gap Year after graduating university instead of before going to university.

He was born in Buenos Aires (Argentina) but around the age of one his family moved to the country town of Campana for his father’s work then moved back to Buenos Aires when he was six years of age.

On finishing his schooling his plan was to continue studies at the Istituto Tecnico de Buenos Aires and then to pursue his career in the field Industrial Engineering. However, during his time at university, these plans slowly morphed into something different. He began to realise that up to the point he had reached in his life had been one of constant study and exams to reach his goal of a career.

Training weekly and playing rugby on the weekends, studying and a year working in a bank meant he had not really had time to have real adventure. Skiing, sky-diving or sailing to Colonia in Uruguay with friends did not really fulfil his idea of adventure.

An idea gained from his interest in maritime history and a desire for new experiences and visiting new places. The idea of taking a Gap Year started to develop in 2014 whilst he was working in the Bank where he realised that he had not really done anything that he wanted to do, his time had been spent following another agenda.

A year of travelling to new places, experiencing new things seemed very exciting if not somewhat daunting. Having never been away from home for more than three weeks at a time or travelling alone, Nicolas said he was a bit scared about the whole prospect of a Gap Year. His father encouraged him to take off as he said “do it now so that in a few years time he would not have any regrets about not making the most of the opportunity to travel.”

Argentina has Working Visa Holiday agreement with a number of European countries, Australia and New Zealand and a Working Visa would be the main determining factor in which country Nicolas would visit. It was whilst he was watching an Australia versus New Zealand rugby match that he decided on New Zealand, as Europe would be going into winter. There was a sticking point as New Zealand only issues 1000 Working Holiday Visas annually and around 8000 applications are made.

With the prospect of gaining a visa for New Zealand being very slim Nicolas decided to apply for an Australian Working Visa. Another determining factor was whether he would be successful in gaining the position that he had applied for. The decision was made for him when he failed to get the job he had applied for and within days of graduating he was on a plane with visas for both New Zealand and Australia stamped in his passport.

Landing first in New Zealand then after a time there he flew onto Australia and ended up in Manly, a place he had read about. He was not totally alone in the wide brown land as he had an aunt in Sydney and another one in Tweed Heads. He made friends there, surfed and worked mainly as a builder’s labourer until his girlfriend arrived whereupon they hired a campervan and started their road-trip up the east coast of Australia as far as Port Douglas. They then flew to Melbourne and took the Great Coast Road as far as Port Campbell before returning to Melbourne. At which point his girlfriend flew back to Buenos Aires to continue her studies.

Nicolas had seen in an advertisement in an airport magazine for the opportunity to sail aboard HMB Endeavour and, with the strong encouragement of his girlfriend, he decide to fulfil another dream of his, sailing aboard a sailing ship.

Nicolas arrived in Port Lincoln 2 days before departure and spent the day before departure as a volunteer guide, a great way the learn about HMB Endeavour and that evening he stood a watch, another way to learn about the operations of the ship.

So far his experiences in the last couple of months have more than lived up to his expectations and in some cases surpassed them. Being a member of the voyage crew aboard the Endeavour was, for Nicolas, certainly a dream fulfilled – nine days at sea experiencing all the pleasures and excitement that the sea can offer or throw at you.

The amazing sunrises and sunsets, seeing the Milky Way in all its beauty (not possible at home because of the lights of Buenos Aires), climbing to the mainmast t’gallant, experiencing the pitch and roll of the Endeavour as she ploughed into a heavy swell and a Force 6 southeaster. All these experiences will, as Nicolas says, remain with him for the rest of his life.

It was through the generosity and kindness of the crew, the great food and the ship herself that he came to regard the Endeavour a home away from home.

Will he sail with her again? Who knows and Argentina is just over the horizon.