1984-1998 Operation Raleigh

“Scientific curiosity, a spirit of service and a sense of adventure will cross any ocean and foster a true sense of international understanding.”


Operation Raleigh, named to commemorate Sir Walter Raleigh’s first colonising expedition to America in 1584, was a four year round-the-world expedition launched by HRH Prince Charles starting from the UK in October 1984 when Zebu sailed from St. Katharine Dock on the Thames in London.

The aim was to involve 4000 young people aged 17-24 years, who were called “Venturers”, of many nations (2000 from the UK) in a variety of challenging expeditions mixing adventure, science and rural community aid projects.

Operation Raleigh, followed in the wake of Operation Drake (1978 -1980), a smaller but similar round-the-world scientific expedition that marked the 400th anniversary of Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe.

British Army Col. John Blashford-Snell C.B.E., the energetic leader of both expeditions, said of Operations Drake and Raleigh at the time “<The expeditions> are the ”ultimate challenge for young people” – especially underprivileged youngsters who might never have the chance otherwise.” The aim of Raleigh, he said, ”is to inspire the young, so that they may develop their leadership, and thus communicate with others – and inspire them with the same pioneer spirit that men like Drake and Raleigh possessed…The most positive result of such an expedition, is that you can get one good leader with the good sense to use his leadership properly to inspire other young people, to communicate with his or her contemporaries after returning home.”

Between 1984 and 1988, Zebu successfully sailed around the globe as the Operation Raleigh sail training expedition vessel, teaching traditional sailing skills to an internationally diverse group of nearly 500 young people throughout the voyage.

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