“Volunteering with maintenance means I know the ship, the permanent crew and members of voyage crew so much better. I’ve built friendships with other volunteers. It feels good to help the JST in a very real way.”

Neil Tigwell from Oxfordshire has been volunteering with maintenance on our ships for four years. He says helping out in this way has contributed hugely to his JST experience.


Have you ever been on Tenacious and wondered how she is kept in such good seaworthy condition? It hadn’t occurred to me until I overheard someone talking about volunteering for maintenance sessions. That was a while ago now and my initial reaction was why would I want to do that? Eventually I gave it a go and now wish I had started much earlier.

You will be on board Tenacious and that is of course a great place to be. You could be in all sorts of interesting places both in the UK and abroad.

I’ll highlight one of the sessions last year in Portland which was fairly typical.

There was a lot to do during this particular maintenance period particularly on the Engineering side: a new air-conditioning system was installed (important with the upcoming Caribbean voyages); lots of electrical jobs; and an overhaul of the main engines which are of course essential for getting into and out of port and for when the winds are light or in the wrong direction.

One of the biggest tasks on deck was to remove two of the roller furling yards with a massive crane and to overhaul them on the quayside – this required both rigging and seamanship skills.

But it is not just practical tasks that are needed to make everything work for the voyages. In contrast there was a new system being installed to keep track of  the medical purser’s stores and equipment.

All the oil skins that had arrived from Lord Nelson were being cleaned and checked. Rust chipping and painting was under way as it always is (that really is a never-ending task). The deck team were involved with rope work, rigging and woodworking. When stores arrived, it was all hands to help get them on board, and there is often washing up to do which everyone, including the captain helps with. And of course cleaning!

Jobs can progress quite slowly at first – but it’s a nice feeling when things start to come together. Think of it along the same lines as your first voyage and you will get the picture.

At lunch time, in the evening and tea breaks just sitting on deck chatting and watching the world go by is always interesting. Then the evening is yours which can be spent on board or ashore. It’s great to spend time with others who are enthusiastic about the work of the Trust. The chat is often about the ship and JST related topics so a good place to catch up on all the latest news. You will of course get to know the ship much better and will probably end up in all sorts of places you never knew existed.

You will also spend more time with the permanent crew so will get to know them better than on a voyage. What comes across strongly is the permanent crew’s passionate belief in what they are helping to achieve. Being a part of that team working towards a common goal is the sort of situation most work places can only dream of.

Volunteering in this way contributes hugely to the whole experience of being on board Tenacious. It is also a great thing to talk about when conversations with friends and colleagues get round to what you do in your spare time. It is a bit unusual isn’t it!

Last but by no means least are the friendships that build up with the other regular volunteers. And of course you are helping the JST in a very real way to achieve their aims.


If you’re interested in becoming a maintenance volunteer you can check here for opportunities or contact maintainers@jst.org.uk. We’d love to hear from you.