The announcement that the tall ship Lord Nelson will leave the UK in October 2012 to sail around the world was celebrated on 13th February by JST Founders, Trustees and Vice Presidents.
Founder Christopher Rudd (pictured here on the right of co-founder Dr Tony Hicklin) said in his speech to the gathered group: "We all know who the heroes of the JST have been over the years: those with disabilities who have put the Trust’s ideals to the test…afloat, at sea, on board Lord Nelson and Tenacious. It is to these courageous characters that we give thanks tonight. Let’s drink a toast to all our shipmates, especially those who have defied disabilities to challenge the elements aboard our very special and magnificent tall ships".
Lord Nelson was designed and built to be sailed by able-bodied and physically disabled people including wheelchair users, as part of a full working crew. This will be the first time that an accessible square-rigged sailing ship with a mixed physical ability working crew has undertaken a circumnavigation.
The 21 month world voyage, which JST are calling 'Sail the World’, will incorporate four Equator crossings, 7 continents, 30 countries and 45,000 sea miles and is the most ambitious project the charity has yet undertaken. Founded in 1978 off the back of a grant from the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Fund, the JST owns and operates the only two tall ships in the world that have special features that enable able-bodied and disabled people to sail the ship together as equals.
The purpose of Sail the World is to give people of all physical abilities the chance to undertake adventurous ocean passages under sail. It is planned that wheelchair users will be part of the working crew for each of the 10 passages, the longest of which is 58 days and 5,800 sea miles from new Zealand to Ushuaia including rounding Cape Horn. Square-rigged sailing ships have been rounding that historic rock for centuries but this will be the first accessible tall ship with a mixed ability crew to do so.
Sail the World also aims to introduce other nations to the experience of accessible sailing on a tall ship, which for many people can be a life-changing discovery of abilities they didn’t know they had. Ports of call around the world have expressed a strong interest in chartering the ship for a few days, between the long passages, in order to enable their own nationals with disabilities to sail who otherwise would not get the chance. The JST hopes that people from these countries will also want to join the ship on the longer adventurous passages across the oceans of the world.
The JST ships are recognised world-wide as being unique and already there is great excitement around the globe about giving Lord Nelson a warm welcome wherever she goes.
Disabled sailor and JST Trustee Niall Tarrell said "I have been a wheelchair user since the age of twenty-one and sailing on Lord Nelson opened up a sense of achievement and opportunity that I had rarely felt before. Taking this message to the rest of the world and giving disabled South Africans, Australians, Asians and South Americans a chance to share this experience we believe will inspire people around the world".
The ship will leave in October 2012 from Southampton which means just 7 months to recruit the first 36 passage crew and Sail the World’s first destination will be Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Other ports of call include Cape Town, Singapore, Sydney and Auckland. The grand home coming will be in July 2014 after visiting Iceland. For the full passage programme, click here.
Operations Manager Andy Spark, who masterminded the passage plan for Sail the World, is pictured here explaining his reasoning behind the choice of route.