As the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s tall ship Tenacious makes its way around the Fijian and Tahitian islands while en route to Australia, the Trust’s Australian team has been preparing for the vessel’s arrival in Sydney on July 30. Sailing with Tenacious’s professional crew are a number of amateur/first-time sailors – many with physical disabilities or sensory impairments – who take an active part in the ship’s daily sailing duties.
Founded in 1978, UK-based Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) owns the only specially designed, mixed-ability tall ships – including Lord Nelson – in the world, offering life-changing tall-ship adventures for crews of all ages, backgrounds and ability. The charitable organisation says that by bringing together a crew of physically disabled and able-bodied people, who work together to man the ships, it challenges the preconceptions of ‘ability’, helps drive social inclusion and diversity, and encourages those with impairments to focus on what they can do, rather than what they cannot.
While JST’s first tall ship, Lord Nelson, launched in 1985, has previously visited Australia, Tenacious (launched in 2000) is undergoing its first passage Down Under. Laying claim to being the world’s largest operative wooden-hulled ship, at 65m and 586 tons, Tenacious is uniquely equipped with features not seen on other vessels – the entire ship is wheelchair accessible (including the platforms up the mast), there are aids for the visually impaired such as speaking compasses and braille signage, and those with limited dexterity can even helm the ship by using a joystick.
JST subsidises the crew spaces through fundraising efforts, to ensure those without the means can have access to a life-changing experience aboard its tall ships.
In its terminology, JST doesn’t have passengers. Everyone aboard is a crew member, with tasks distributed equally and supervised by the professional and voluntary crew. On arrival day, the captain gives a full briefing, with a general overview of the voyage route, safety information and an evacuation drill. The ship often remains in port on the first night, giving everyone time to become acquainted with their new surrounds and fellow crew members. During the voyage, crew learn how to set and handle sails, brace the yards and helm the ship. They also have a turn at helping in the galley and with keeping watch, along with any number of other activities on deck or up the mast.
During its stay in Australia, Tenacious will tour the southeast Australian coast. JST has planned a variety of exciting day sails and short round trips, as well as several longer voyages between the ports of Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart and Adelaide. Club Marine members can also look forward to a range of exclusive experiences aboard Tenacious and make use of a 10 per cent discount on their bookings.
The current passage from Southampton on England’s southern coast to Sydney has taken the crew on a cruising sailor’s dream voyage. The trip saw them navigate southward to the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, before sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to Antigua and the Caribbean Sea, transiting the Panama Canal to explore the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan coasts, and sailing across the South Pacific to island-hop around Tahiti and Fiji for a few weeks. On the final, 32-day leg to Sydney, they’ll call in at Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Lord Howe Island.
Club Marine Magazine will hop aboard Tenacious in August to crew on the 10-day run from Sydney to Melbourne. I’m hoping for plain sailing and a smooth ride all the way to the berth at the Seaworks Maritime Precinct, Williamstown. You can read all about the adventure in our October/November, 2016, edition.
Find out more about Jubilee Sailing Trust at: jst.org.uk/Australia.