Pupils retrace 19th century sea voyage

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Ten pupils from a Wallsend school have retraced the epic voyage made by Arctic whaling expeditions more than 250 years ago.

The 13 to 16-year-olds, from Burnside Business and Enterprise College, boarded the 54-tonne James Cook in Tynemouth before sailing up to Orkney.

The week-long voyage took them on the same route used by whaling ships 200 years ago.

While on board the youngsters learned techniques from the 19th century, including how to rig sails and navigate using hour glasses, compasses, and an ‘old log’, a piece of wood tied to string and dropped off the back of the boat to measure speed.

The group also kept logbooks and researched climate, as well as eating on board and sleeping below deck on bunk beds.

The expedition was part-funded by ARCdoc, a project run by the University of Sunderland using old ships’ logbooks to track the impact of climate change.

Other funding came from the Ocean Youth Trust North, with a small amount being raised by the youngsters themselves.

Matthew Ayre, 26, of Tynemouth, whose PhD is part of ARCdoc, came up with the project as a way to inspire an interest in science and climate change issues, and he joined the pupils on the voyage.

The ARCdoc team’s findings will be presented at a series of international conferences and a report will be made available in 2014.

Rosalind Elliott, Burnside assistant headteacher, said: “This is a truly innovative learning experience for our students. One they will never forget.”