As readers of this blog will be aware I recently had the joy of fracturing my right humerus during a pretty interesting trip to Sheffield. Unfortunately this impacted on another event that I had planned for in July, which was to join a voyage aboard a tall ship and sail around southern Norway with my older brother (as you do). I originally intended to post an entry highlighting the charity behind this adventure before I was due to sail, but owing to the accident the post has been a bit delayed and my participation in the voyage was negated to viewing my brother’s awesome photographs on his return from said trip.
But all is not lost! Instead I’m going to quickly introduce the Jubilee Sailing Trust, the UK charity behind the sailing of two specially adapted ships that travel around the world, and highlight just why their work is so important.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust, a registered charity, was founded in 1978 by the intrepid Christopher Rudd. Christopher Rudd had, throughout the 1970’s, been working with disabled and special needs children helping and training them to sail dinghies in sheltered waters. However, he thought that there was no reason that people with mixed physical abilities couldn’t sail together and learn to sail properly in tall ships on the open sea. All that was required was careful consideration of the design of the ship and of the use of equipment. Furthermore Rudd believed that prejudices and misunderstandings between people with different circumstances in life could be broken down by the co-joining of sailing together, as part of a crew that relied wholeheartedly on each other for support, both emotional and physical. It took time but the idea gained traction and admiration from various individuals (including the Duke of York) and a pilot schemes with various ship designs was carried out and tested to see which type offered the best conditions.
Square rig ships suited the aspirations of Rudd and his idea best as it allowed numerous tasks of differing ability to be carried out simultaneously, which suits the varying physical needs that the crew will have. Although it was a tough to convince backers and funding bodies of the idea Jubilee Sailing Trust managed to design and build its first tall ship, the sleek and beautiful Lord Nelson, in 1986, which set sail on its maiden voyage from Southampton to Cherbourg, France. It was clear within a few years of Lord Nelson’s launch that demand outstripped the ability to cater for the growing number of would be crew-members. Thus the plans were laid down in 1992 to raise the funds to build a second specially adapted ship for the Jubilee Sailing Trust. Not only were disabled people going to enjoy having the chance to sail this new ship but they also had the opportunity to form a part of the build team which built the ship, from the keel up until the moment it was fitted with the living quarters.
The second ship was named Tenacious and set sail on her maiden voyage 1,548 days after her keel was first laid. Although differing in design somewhat from the Lord Nelson, Tenacious offered the same accessibility as her sister ship which guaranteed her ongoing popularity with people seeking an alternative to a holiday in the sun. It is perhaps somewhat surprising to learn that there can be a voyage crew of 40 people on-board alongside the permanent staff, but this is no lazy holiday as every hand is needed on board. You are expected to pull your weight and join in with the various timed watches and may be needed at a moments notice when the signal for ‘all hands on deck’ goes out. There are limitations as to how many wheelchairs are allowed on board however, but there is space for 9 or so on each ship.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust have not been idle in running their ships either as they are constantly at sea travelling Europe and the world and have, since 2000, taken part in many of the Tall Ships Races. The Sail Training International organisation help run the Tall Ships Races throughout various countries around the world and have offices in many countries throughout the continents. The organisation is dedicated to the development and education of young people regardless of nationality, religion, culture, gender or social background, and offer the chance to race tall ships in groups of up to 100 ships at a time between various locations. Jubilee Sailing Trust offers many options for the intrepid sailor, including taking part in the Tall Ship Races, single day cruises, relaxing voyages from the UK to the Canary Islands or even trips to Antarctica! The Lord Nelson is currently on a two-year globe-trotting trip as a part of the Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge, which will see it take in 30 countries altogether and 50,000 miles with a mixed ability crew.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust offer the opportunity to join a ship for the full voyage or to join part for only a leg of a journey. My brother and I joined up for two weeks, to head from Fredrikstad in southern Norway and sail around to Bergen on the west coast of the country as a part of a cruise between legs of the 2014 Tall Ships Race. As a part of the crew you will be buddied up with either a disabled individual or with a physical able individual. It is your job to look after your buddy and vice versa. The cost of your participation in a trip is offset by 50% from funding but can still be expensive. There are many options available to help offset the costs, this can include sponsored fundraising or by doing sponsored challenges before the voyage.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust is still the only sailing charity in the world to offer physically and mental disabled individuals the chance to sail on the open sea as part of an active crew. Over 3o years of operation has seen the ships carry over 39,000 people on voyages across the world and have helped improve individual perceptions of learning disabilities and physical impairment. In particular people who take part in voyages have stated that they gain a greater understanding and awareness of different abilities by being partnered with and/or being grouped into a watch with mixed abilities. The effect of sailing as a unit can help highlight the value of working in a team as well as lead to deep personal development in areas such as health, social interaction and fulfilling aspirations. Further to this crew members often report positive self-esteem and a greater understanding beyond the stereotypes of disability (source).
Although I did not manage to join my brother in Norway and it’s beautiful fjords and coastal waters, I have had the chance to do a day sail from my home town of Hartlepool, in the Lord Nelson, in a visit to the town just before it hosted the 2010 Tall Ships Races. I even managed to get half way up the mast, which was a fairly nerve-wracking experience at sea! One of the great experiences of that trip was being able to leave and enter my town via the sea, to feel like what it must have been like so many years ago when Hartlepool was a major fishing and industrial shipping town.
So I highly recommend reading more about this fantastic charity and opportunity to take part in something rather special. If you are looking to challenge yourself, help others, meet new people and explore new countries by sea then this is the perfect choice!
Find Out More
- Frequently asked questions on sailing with the Jubilee Sailing Trust can be found here. Please be aware that there restrictions in place regarding wheelchair size and occupant weight, alongside some disabilities that may mean that JST is unable to accept you as part of the crew.
- Find out about the range of options for sail adventures and how to fund your journey (with funding tips) here.
- Both the Lord Nelson and Tenacious have individual blogs, find out what they are up to here.