The British accessible tall ship, Lord Nelson, operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust received a warm welcome when she arrived in the City of Sails as part of the inaugural Auckland Tall Ships Festival on Friday.

Among the crowds gathered to greet the 55-metre square-rigger when she came alongside at Queens Wharf West at 1500 local (GMT +13) was New Zealand Paralympic sailor Tim Dempsey and fellow disabled sailors from Sailability Auckland including Chairman, Brendan Tourelle.

It is the first time an accessible square rigger has sailed in New Zealand waters providing the unique opportunity for both disabled and able bodied Kiwis to get on board as part of the crew for one of the 55-metre ship’s four in-country voyages.

“Sailability Auckland is thrilled to welcome the Lord Nelson to the City of Sails. The Jubilee Sailing Trust and Sailability Auckland share a common goal of empowering people with disabilities through sailing and being on the water – building mobility, self-confidence and pride through achievement. Although both organisations achieve their goals through very different sailing craft the end result is the same,” Tim Dempsey, who represented New Zealand in the SKUD 18 class at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, said.

Sailability Auckland is currently fundraising to give a number of its members the opportunity to sail on board Lord Nelson during her visit to New Zealand.

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Spaces are still available for disabled and able bodied Kiwis to get on board Lord Nelson during her inaugural visit to New Zealand with prices starting at NZ$1,267 for ten days. A range of physical disabilities can be accommodated and no previous sailing experience is required. To book a voyage call Paul Kennerley on 09 522 4515, visit or email

Lord Nelson is currently embarked on her maiden circumnavigation in the Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge, a ground breaking 50,000-mile voyage organised by UK charity, the Jubilee Sailing Trust. It is the first time an accessible tall ship has sailed around the world.

David Matthews, CCS Disability Action, Chief Executive, said he was excited about Lord Nelson’s visit as it demonstrated that access barriers can be overcome.

“The Lord Nelson’s visit is a great opportunity for anyone who is interested in sailing, but has been put off by access barriers in the past. It proves that anything can be made accessible. All it takes is imagination, commitment and willpower. I hope this ship inspires people across New Zealand to support moves to have our own accessible sailing vessel and also think about how they can make their own buildings, communities and services accessible to all.”

Briton Allison Reede, 45, was one of the voyage crew on board Lord Nelson on Friday and she said it was real “goose bumpy stuff” to be part of the procession of eleven tall ships escorted by the HMNZS Wellington from the Royal New Zealand Navy and two Maori sailing waka for the approach to Auckland up the Waitemata.

“The media were out in abundance and the crowds on the quayside were amazing – they looked like ants from a distance but as we got closer we realised just how many people had turned out to greet us,” she said.

“You see a city from a different perspective when you arrive by sea on a tall ship. It was like a scene from the 1800s and it felt like a real privilege to be a part of it,” said Reede, who has taken a break from running her consultancy business in the automotive sector in the UK to sail from Singapore to New Zealand via Australia.

Also among the 43-strong crew arriving in Auckland on Friday was 89-year-old Briton Albert Bayley, Lord Nelson’s eldest crew member, who climbed the mast on his first day on board when he joined the ship in Sydney. At the other end of the age spectrum is Lord Nelson’s youngest crew member, 16-year-old Michael Embry, who turned 16 on the flight out from the UK to Australia to meet the minimum age requirement just in time to set sail. Both Albert and Michael prove that age provides no barrier to active participation on board Lord Nelson, where the focus is on what people can do rather than what they can’t.