Disabled sailors to embark on tall ship voyage
A group of 20 disabled people, including 80-year-old Northampton man Brian Norrey, is preparing to sail from London to Southampton on a tall ship next week, doing all the work themselves.
They will act as full crew members while aboard the Tenacious, a fully working tall ship owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), which sets off from Canary Wharf in East London, on August 16.
Each person will be matched to a non-disabled “buddy” for the voyage’s duration, who will help them with cleaning, steering and running the ship, as well as performing shifts preparing food in the galley and keeping watch overnight.
Mr Norrey, a retired structural engineer, is one of the sailors who will travel to Tenacious’ home port of Southampton on the seven-day trip. He first sailed with JST in 1990 as a voyage buddy, but for the past 10 years he has needed a buddy of his own to satisfy the insurers.
He said: “I get a great feeling from being involved with disabled people and helping them achieve things they wouldn’t be able to do. I like to do something for people not quite so fortunate as me.
“It’s impressive to see someone steering a ship that size, sitting in a wheelchair and operating the wheel with a small joystick. It’s a tremendous achievement.
“I enjoy being part of the crew, being involved in all aspects of the sailing, from helping out in the galley, setting the sails, hauling on ropes, steering the ship to climbing aloft and handling sails out on the yard arm and in addition being under the supervision of a very professional permanent crew, who made everyone – disabled and able-bodied – feel that they were an essential part of the workings of the ship.”
Tenacious’ route will take the 40-strong amateur crew down the Thames and through the Dover straits, navigating one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes before continuing along the south coast to Southampton.
It is one of only two tall ships in the world that has been designed and built to enable disabled and non-disabled people to sail side by side as equals – the other being JST sister-ship Lord Nelson. Facilities include wheelchair lifts between deck levels, a speaking compass and the option for joystick steering or the usual ship’s wheel.
Londoner Mark Anderson, who is blind, will also be on the trip. He was first introduced to JST through friends, and enjoyed the experience so much he kept coming back.
“I’ve gone on lots of different voyages to the Canaries and the Channel Islands,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to make new friends and meet up with some of my old friends. There’s quite a few of us that keep coming back and it’s like one big happy family.
“If anyone is unsure I would tell them to give it a try and see what they think because it is really worthwhile going. You’ve got to be prepared to chip in and do a bit of work though.”
Jubilee Sailing Trust was established in 1978 and aims to promote integration between disabled and non-disabled men and women through the adventure of tall ship sailing. There are eight permanent crew and two trained volunteers on each trip to support the disabled sailors and voyage buddies.
Over the past 30 years JST has taken more than 30,000 people to sea including more than 12,000 people with physical disabilities and 4,500 wheelchair users. Subsidised sailing trips cost from £100 and £1,500, depending on a voyage’s length and destination, and JST sails 46 weeks per year. For more information visit www.jst.org.uk.