I can think of few more rewarding experiences in my life than signing up for a voyage run by the Southampton-based Jubilee Sailing Trust. The Trust enables disabled and able-bodied people to take part in the experience of tall ship sailing.
The Trust was conceived in 1978 from an idea by Christopher Rudd. A keen sailor, he gave lessons in dinghy sailing to disabled people, but was dismayed that when he went further afield in his larger boat he could not take them too. With a number of financial backers, he chartered the Norwegian sailing ship Soren Larsen to test out the concept. It was a great success. The Jubilee Sailing Trust came into being and it was decided to construct the worlds first purpose-built sailing ship, named Lord Nelson after Britains greatest disabled sailor! At about 450 tons she undertook her maiden voyage in 1986. Her first voyages were so over-subscribed that the Trust took the bold decision to build a second ship, Tenacious, of about 650 tons, launched in 1992. Both ships are rigged as barques, with three masts, two of them square-rigged. They feature advanced facilities such as lifts, a speaking compass for the blind and vibrating alarms fitted to bunks for emergencies, while the alleyways are wide enough for wheelchair users.
Buddies on board
People with any physical disability, including cerebral palsy and those who are blind or deaf, are accepted for a voyage ranging from five days to three weeks or more. Each disabled person is assigned an able-bodied buddy to assist them during the voyage, and both vessels carry a permanent crew of professional seafarers, including a Medical Purser.
From April to about October, the two ships sail between British and Northern European ports. For the rest of the year Lord Nelson heads out to the Canary Islands via the Mediterranean, while Tenacious sails direct to the Canaries and from there transatlantic to Antigua in the Caribbean.
All voyages are generously subsidised, allowing many more people to participate. Sponsored events include climbing the mast of either ship, hikes across Peru, and UK cycle rides.
To find out more e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 02380 449108.
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