Thursday, December 12th, 2019

Tall Ship That Changes Lives

Published on February 11, 2013 by   ·   No Comments


2012 has come to a close and there must be a huge sense of deflation in the UK, London in particular.  Not only did the country host an incredible Olympics followed by an equally special Paralympics, but the Queen also celebrated her Diamond Jubilee with everything from a Thames Pageant to an epic concert outside Buckingham Palace.  It was nice therefore to have a small reminder of British pride and excellence as Tenacious cruised into Palma at the beginning of January.

Tenacious is a beautiful British-built sailing yacht which forms part of the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) fleet – a charity that was founded with money from the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Fund some 35 years ago.  She is something rather special; a beautiful 65 metre (including the bowsprit) tall ship which was constructed for a specific purpose to the highest specifications.  The second ship built by the Jubilee Sailing Trust to offer able and disabled people the chance of enjoying the experience of travelling on amazing sea voyages, Tenacious is the largest wooden vessel of her kind in the world.

©Jubilee Sailing Trust

The JST was founded in 1978 by Christopher Rudd, a teacher and sailor who wanted anyone whatever their abilities to enjoy the pastime he so loved.  The first trips were made on ships with minor adaptations, but it was soon evident that without a proper purpose-built design, further voyages were unattainable.  In 1984 he commissioned Lord Nelson, which was designed by the naval architect Colin Mudie.  Since its launch in 1986 the Lord Nelson has carried 24,000 people, 10,000 physically disabled of which some 5,000 in wheelchairs.

Demand soon outstripped supply and the need to commission a second ship became a matter of urgency if the JST´s dream of offering a ‘sail of a lifetime’ was to be fulfilled.  Fundraising started and the project gained a considerable boost from a National Lottery grant for 65% of the total amount.  Tony Castro, another naval architect, was responsible for the design of Tenacious and the keel was laid down in June 1996 by HRH Duke of York in Southampton.    The hull, which measures 54 metres with a beam of 10.6 metres, was built upside down and much of the work was done by volunteers.  Since its launch in February 2000, 12,000 people have sailed on her including 3,000 disabled crew and 1,000 in wheelchairs.

© Jubilee Sailing Trust

We caught up with Captain Catterson in Palma, Mallorca where the ship had stopped for some Mediterranean cruising and a change of crew.  The JST’s slogan is ‘Changing lives’ and talking with Simon it is easy to see why.  Tenacious has a permanent crew of eight, himself, three Mates, a Medical Purser, a Cook and two Engineers.  In addition they have a volunteer Cook and two Bosun’s Mates.  The total complement is enhanced by some 40 Voyage Crew, half of which could be disabled with up to eight in wheelchairs.  The volunteers pay as much as they can afford for their trips and JST make up the difference so that nobody is turned away.  Simon explained that Tenacious was open to everyone from 16 to over 80 – all you needed was the ambition to go to sea and you didn’t have to be a seasoned sailor to enjoy the voyage.  “There was always someone on hand to help and it was fantastic how quickly peopled learned the ropes – literally”.

Simon described the features on board to afford disabled people every advantage and access to as much of Tenacious as possible.  Lifts and wide aisles below decks allow wheelchairs to move freely and guidance tracks and signs in Braille assist the visually impaired.  Simon said that “wheelchair users can also get up to the foretop on the main mast so that they can see what it is like to be up there”.   Other special features include vibrator pads fitted to bunks to alert people who are hard of hearing in the event of an emergency.  Power assisted and ‘joystick’ steering also enable those with limited shoulder movement to easily turn the wheel so that they too can enjoy the feeling of being totally in control.

Tenacious left Mallorca for Malta and is scheduled to set off around the world later in the year. We wish her and the crew a successful voyage and if you would like to find out more or make a donation simply log onto their website

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