The Jubilee Sailing Trust was set up in the 1970's to enable both disabled and able bodied crew to sail together on a specially designed tall ship. STS Lord Nelson was specially commissioned and built through the efforts of an amazing, dedicated team and took her maiden voyage in 1986. Demand for berth on voyages soon outstripped supply and a second ship STS Tenacious was commissioned in 2000. Both ships have traveled the globe and Tenacious is currently in the Southern hemisphere and based in Australia and New Zealand until her return to the UK in 2018.
I had the privilege of sailing on Tenacious many years ago setting out from Southampton, crossing the Channel, up the River Seine to Rouen and back to St Catherine's dock in the City of London. An amazing experience, which I hoped to repeat one day.
A number of events last year prompted me to decide that now was the time to have another adventure. Plans were put in place and I booked a berth on a voyage from Gran Canaria to Madeira, back to Gran Canaria in January this year. To say I was a little nervous would be a gross understatement, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The crew is made up of the 8 Permanent Crew (PC) who are all professionals together with 3 volunteers who are all experienced; Voyage Crew (VC) like me, come from a wide background with a range of abilities and disabilities. There were 3 wheelchair users, visually and hearing impaired and other members with a variety of medical conditions in our crew. Everyone has a "buddy", looks out for everyone else and contributes to the best of their ability. It is a remarkable ethos and would make an excellent blueprint for a fully integrated, inclusive society.
|My Watch Group, Forward Port, with one member missing who was in her bunk at the time!|
The Voyage Crew are split into a 4 Watch system of Forward Port, Forward Starboard, Aft Port and Aft Starboard. Everyone has a Watch card which indicates when they are on duty.
|My slightly battered Watch Card|
January 6th 2017 arrive at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Those fit and brave enough took part in unassisted climbing of the rigging. A square rigged tall ship needs people to be aloft during sail changes.
By 17.00hrs it was time to leave Gran Canaria and begin our voyage.
Lord Nelson is ready and waiting for her new Voyage Crew.
The next few hours were spent meeting everyone, finding bunks, sorting luggage and equipment being distributed. Everyone is given a set of Oilskins, wellies and harness. After dinner and a briefing most people retired to their bunk to rest ready for the next day.
On Monday morning crew and watch group photos (above) were taken and Captain Chris briefed us on the journey ahead, which was described as 'interesting' owing to the unusual winds being experienced around the Canary Islands at the time. Drills took place involving lifejackets, immersion suits, evacuation drill, rope handling and muster stations. All essential before a sea voyage.
|FP Muster station|
|Venturing out onto the yardarms|
|Everyone ready to haul the ropes to bring the gangway aboard|