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Life on board really is about joining in and getting involved regardless of your physical ability. Don’t worry if you have not sailed before – most people step on Lord Nelson or Tenacious with no experience of sailing a tall ship, so you will not be alone. The permanent crew will support you through all the tasks involved with sailing the ships and you will always have an experienced hand with you on watch.

How do I know what to do?

You will be put into one of four teams, called Watches, which take it in turns to be responsible for various tasks on board including keeping watch, even at night. Each watch includes an experienced watch leader who will work with you and be your formal link with the permanent crew. Between them, they ensure that you are given tasks that suit your individual strengths. Together you will sail the ship.

*Routines may vary, according to the ship and requirements on board.


On arrival at the ship you will be given a watch card with the times of your watches. For example if you are in Forward Port your watch card will look like this:


One hour is set aside each morning for all voyage crew to help clean the ship (called “Happy Hour”). One member of each watch is also on mess duty for a 24 hour period. This involves helping the cook to prepare, serve and clear up after meals.


tenacious cabinThere are eight cabins on each ship for wheelchair users and their buddies. The remaining accommodation is provided by spacious fixed bunks on board both Lord Nelson and Tenacious.

Accommodation has heating and air-conditioning, hot showers and points for electric toothbrushes, shavers and hair dryers (the power supply on both ships is standard 240v). Bathrooms are shared and include all the facilities required for those with limited mobility, including four clos-o-mat toilets.

Food glorious food

cookingThe food on board is plentiful and often praised. A professional cook and a cook’s assistant produce three cooked meals a day and make cakes, biscuits and scones for elevenses and afternoon tea (both known as ‘Smoko’ on board). In addition you can help yourself to fresh fruit and if you are still peckish during your night watch there are always some ‘night rations’ to help you through.

Special dietary requirements are catered for – just remember to include them in your voyage booking form.

On each day of the voyage one member of each watch helps the cook and cook’s assistant in the Galley – a busy and rewarding part of life on board known as ‘Mess Duty’!


On board ship you may be assigned a ‘buddy’. A buddy is another crew member who will be your companion on the voyage, and together you will discover how to sail the ship. We aim to buddy everyone up into physically disabled and able-bodied pairs as this integration lies at the heart of our mission. If you are sailing alone, don’t worry! You will soon be part of the team on board as the buddying and watch systems help to quickly create a new family on board. If you are uncertain with any aspect of the buddying arrangements or unsure of your role, please speak to your watch leader or the medical purser.

The following guidelines provide a few helpful tips for both buddies as buddying is very much a joint venture, replying on goodwill and co-operation. If you are disabled and have personal care needs or require assistance from a carer on a daily basis, you will most likely have to sail with a known carer.


  • If you are uncertain with any aspect of the buddy arrangements or unsure of your role, please speak to your Watchleader or the Medical Purser.
  • Introduce yourself to your buddy as soon as possible on joining the ship.
  • Ask your buddy what help they may need. Our experience is that people with disabilities know their capabilities and are very keen to do as much as possible themselves.
  • Your buddy may need help stowing their gear, making up their bunk and rigging up their lee cloth (the lee cloth stops you falling out of your bunk when the ships rolls).
  • As the voyage progresses you will work out a routine that suits you both but please be aware that at sea in certain weather conditions, ships do perform antics which may be unfamiliar!

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