Over this summer, a number of Welbeck students travelled to New Zealand to take part in some tall ship sailing voyages, run by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), the world leader in promoting equal opportunities through tall ship sailing. Our group sailed on the Lord Tenacious, a 65m long square sail ship, with a group of members of a disabled school based in Auckland. With little sailing experience between us, we were unsure what to expect as we stepped off dry land.
Life on board the ship was exhausting but rewarding, we were all assigned to a watch as we arrived and worked at all stations in the rota. This involved raising and lowering the anchor, cleaning the ship, working in the galley and even helming. Many of us were fortunate enough to stow the sails at the end of the voyaged which entailed climbing around ten metres up the mast and then shuffling out onto the yards. This was rather daunting due to the swaying of the ship, which was amplified further up the mast. One of the other duties that we (bizarrely) enjoyed was the night watch. This could be from 8pm to 12 am or 12am to 4am. We would have to chart the position of the ship, its bearing and also the wind speed every fifteen minutes. However tiring this may sound, we found time to do some fishing in the early hours of the morning; an interesting experience to say the least!
Although we were worked hard, we were also kept well fed. The food on board was delicious and seconds were always available. The cooks on board made and excellent fish pie, carbonara and burgers and at some point during the voyage we all had the pleasure to work alongside them in the galley.
The ship was specialised to promote equal opportunities; there were lifts for each staircase to provide wheelchair access, embossed arrows for the visually impaired and the bridge was equipped with easy access for the radar, helm and other computers. This really helped the dynamic and made sure that no one was left out. A particularly memorable moment was when we all worked as a team to help the disabled members of the group to reach the top of the mast; this was a very rewarding experience for all involved.
Despite not having the opportunity to work with disabled veterans, we were able to meet some people our age from a school for disabled students. This was a humbling experience to see people our age coping and even excelling despite their disability. Although many of the students seemed quit and nervous at first, it didn’t take long for the friendly environment to ensure we all got to know each other and by the end of the week we had made some great friends.
Overall the JST voyage was an extremely enjoyable experience for all involved which taught us numerous life skills and gave us memories to last a lifetime. We thank all involved for making the experience so special, and recommend the voyage to anyone considering it.
Bruce Williams, Dan Stone and Oliver Wilkinson-Gray