“He got out of his wheelchair and climbed the mast. That moment will stay with me forever – all of us watching, cheering and holding our breaths with every step”.
Anna, 48 from Launceston in Cornwall, has just returned from her first voyage as watch leader. She was a crucial part of the crew (despite have only sailed for the first time two years ago) and saw disabilities become invisible as everyone worked together on board.
Taking my first tentative steps on to Tenacious as a first-time watch leader, I felt privileged to be part of this amazing charity.
From the outset I was made to feel comfortable (although I admit I was a little nervous) and we got straight to work. The Jubilee Sailing Trust embraces our abilities and makes what you think is unachievable….achievable no matter what.
As a watch leader my role was to take care of six crew. We had watch duties, mess duties and various other things we had to do whilst on the voyage. Any disability becomes invisible as we all work together pulling ropes, scrubbing decks (and heads).
You don’t have to know lots about sailing either. I first stepped on a ship just two years ago – I didn’t have a clue what rope was what and had never heard of bracing. But with the leadership of the permanent crew you soon learn.
One of the watches is 12am to 4am and as watch leaders we have to make sure our watch is in the right place at the right time. After grabbing a much-needed coffee, I’d assign a helmsman, two look outs and fill in an hourly log – it’s busy so you soon become a team. One of the benefits of the midnight watch is the beautiful stars.
The Trust opens opportunities for those who may not be able to do these things without it. Everyone has their own reasons for being on board, and you meet some incredible people.
The voyage crew is made up from all walks of life, and on our voyage this included an ex-service men suffering from PTSD. To see him embrace the ethos of the JST was just amazing – he learnt to believe in himself again.
I also met two brothers on their first voyage, one of whom was a wheelchair user. With pure determination and help of the amazing crew, he got out of his wheelchair and climbed the mast.
That moment will stay with me forever – all of us watching, cheering and holding our breaths with every step.
These voyages are made of memories you will never forget: being on watch as we left Las Palmas and guiding the ship on its track; visiting some beautiful places and seeing dolphins; appreciating the simple harmony between you and the ocean; and the camaraderie of working together….
What would Anna say to someone considering a JST voyage?
Being part of a voyage helps you take stock on life. It may sound a bit cliched but it helps you look at things differently. You’re part of a team, bonding with people you have only just met and making lifelong friendships.
My first voyage as a watch leader has taught me a lot about myself and others and no matter what always believe in yourself.
You can do it!