Lord Nelson, the first tall ship designed and
built for people of all physical abilities,
visited the Port of Cork on June 12th to 16th,
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Sailing & The S.T.S. “Lord Nelson”
It was from a friendship formed through disabled sailing that I got
my first invitation to participate in the Tall Ships Race into
Dublin in 1998. My friend from Scotland, Ian Taggart OBE invited
me to participate and help make up a “Celtic” party for the crew.
I was overwhelmed at the thought of sailing on the STS Lord Nelson
as I had been aboard several times before when she was in dock in
Kinsale, Cork and Milford during the Tall Ships 1991, but to
actually be aboard while sailing into a home country port during a
major event like this was daunting. I thought about it for a
while, and put word about that I would need sponsorship as it
would cost in the region of £1,000 between flying to Troon in
Scotland, staying aboard for the ten days and flying back again
from Liverpool at the end of the journey. (It is not a cheap trip
– an average week aboard would be about £500 plus your connecting
flights). As luck would have it I found a very generous donor (who
wishes to remain anonymous) who give me the opportunity of
participating in the event and realising the dream come true.
I set off from Cork and took the train to Dublin, jumped in a taxi
to the Airport and just caught the plane to Prestwick in Scotland.
We landed after an hour and we were met at the airport by
supporters of the JST in Troon and taken to the Ship. Wow what a
sight! There she was alongside the quay and as I looked the tears
started to well up... I couldn’t believe I was actually going to
be sailing on this lovely ship...
We were welcomed by Captain John Fisher and some of my fellow Celts
from Scotland. I was shown to my berth - home for the next ten
days. It was up in the fo’castle on the top row with stowage under
the lower bunk and a little locker further up. Little did we know
at that stage that it was near the chain locker!!! We were then
all assembled in the mess for induction nd introduction to the
crew. We were put into watches with a Watch Leader and left to get
familiar with the boat. An introduction to the ‘Emergency
Evacuation’ was carried out. Prior to leaving we got the chance to
climb the rigging to get used to the feel of things.
We set sail into the sunset on a bearing for Campbelltown, leaving
Troon and Jennifer Guinness’ yacht with friends behind - she
joined the crew as part of the Irish contingent. Jennifer is one
of the trustees of the Jubilee Sailing Trust who own both the STS
Lord Nelson & STS Tenacious and is also our liaison in the Dublin
branch of Friends of JST. Watches were organised and those who
were on watch were left to get on with it while the rest of us
adjusted to our new lifestyle.
My buddy for this trip was a lovely chap named Vincent, who was deaf
and dumb but was able to communicate well. He had a friend with
him, Michael, who was a great help and was used to “talking” with
him and showed me how to do it correctly. Our watch was 2 a.m. to
4 a.m. and only a two-hour one as we were at anchor. It was
blowing force 8, with heavy rain and was very miserable but in a
ship like “Nelly” it didn’t matter much!!
Next morning dawned misty and dull with some wind but it had eased
from the previous night. Breakfast was followed by Evacuation
drill and “Happy Hour”. Just in case you think that happy hour was
spent in the bar... in reality it was spent slopping out the
heads, shining the brass and generally tidying up and cleaning
followed by tea, coffee & Smokey. Sails were then hoisted and
anchor weighed and off we went in the general direction of Dublin.
While not on watch, one is free to rest either in the bunk, on
deck or in the main saloon. It was lovely to watch the coastline
of the North of Ireland and Mew Island as we glided slowly past.
The pace on a Tall Ship does not compare with your average Yacht!!
The weather was not the best in that it was damp but it did not
deter the spirits of the crew. There was always someone aboard who
had something cheery to say or a joke or a storey or two to share.
The Lord Nelson a 490 ton three masted barque. She is 55 meters
(180ft) long overall and has 18 sails, all of which are handled by
the voyage crew under the careful guidance of the professional
crew. When not under sail, Lord Nelson has two powerful engines
controlled from the bridge and chartroom which is filled with
modern navigational aids. Three generators provide a constant
supply of electricity, heating and hot water for the showers. The
ships cook prepares three appetising meals a day in the
well-equipped galley and all voyage crew help prepare. In addition
to the sleeping accommodation below decks there is a large mess
area and a saloon with a licensed bar!
Her sister ship, Tenacious, was built to answer the demand by voyage
crew to go further and for longer periods. She was launched in
June 2000 having been built to a Tony Castro design by a team of
craftspersons aided by disabled persons over a two-year period.
She weighs in at 690 tons and like her sister is also a three
masted barque. She is 65 meters long including the bowsprit and
has a total of 21 sails. Again when not under sail, she has two
powerful engines, controlled from the bridge and chartroom with
full modern navigational aids. She has three generators, as the
Lord Nelson and she also has a licensed bar in the lower mess!
Both ships cater for persons with disabilities. There is a permanent
crew of 10 and a voyage crew of 20 able bodied and 20 disabled
persons, with 10 of those being wheelchairs on both boats. The
ships have lifts aboard for ease of access to different levels.
There are tactile symbols & a talking compass for those with
impaired vision. All voyagers participate fully regardless of
their disability in the running of the ship, be it in the galley,
mucking out the heads, getting to the yardarms or hauling on the
lines. There is even access for wheelchairs to the crow’s nest!
So queue up for a voyage of a lifetime... I can guarantee that once
you have experienced the thrill of sailing a Tall Ship you’ll
never want to leave... Contact Triona O’Neill for further details
at “The Bollard”, 16, Seaview Ave., Currabinny Road, Carrigaline,
Co. Cork or 086-8200257, or Michael Booth at the Dublin branch of
JST 01-2822403 or the JST directly at 0044-2380 449 138.
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