Tenacious Antigua round trip day 10  6th February 2023

Imagine finding yourself on the bridge of square rigged sailing ship at midnight, the full moon casting shadows of the sails across the deck and catching the white crests of the wind blown waves as they lift the bow-sprit into the stars. Imagine a ship rolling through the rhythmical waves that increase as they find their way through the Caribbean Islands of Guadeloupe and Dominica and as it sails towards the Island of Barbuda.

Fortunately for me and the rest of the crew we don’t need to imagine. Thanks to the Tenacious – this is real life. I had never imagined that this experience would be possible for me, as a wheelchair user paralysed from the below the chest. Yet myself and other wheel-chair users; and people with visual impairments and other differently abled people are enabled to be a part of the working crew.

Thanks to the design of the ship, with its lifts and grab rails, access is made possible but much more than the ships design, the can-do attitude of the crew means that everyone gets by with a little help from their friends.

Yesterday the crew was excited to weigh anchor and sail off under the power of the brightly coloured foresails. We had spent a couple days ashore in Dominika, exploring the interior; hiking to a waterfall for a swim – or for those unable to hike – drinking locally grown coffee in a little bar high in the mountains over looking the tropical rainforest. Those of us in the ‘coffee-club’ were rewarded with a brief sighting of the illusive (name?)parrot.

Now the ship is at anchor in Princess Dianna Bay near Coco Point bay, Barbuda. Some of the crew are training up on the yard arms learning to stow the sails ready for the end of the voyage, which regrettably is approaching. Some of the crew are cleaning the toilets, washing the dishes – or painting water colours, reading – or more likely chatting.

Perhaps one of the most intimidating aspects of the voyage at the beginning is to be in such close quarters with so many strangers. A few couples and friends signed up together but many came as solo travellers. Now, after 10 days of active participation in all the watches – all the mess-duties – all the meals and the evenings ashore enjoying the ubiquitous rum punches; what was initially the cause of apprehension for some – is now the source of rich sense of community and belonging. The permanent crew and volunteer bosun-mates work over time to ensure everyone is engaged, included and feeling good. The cook works tirelessly to provide delicious meals and the Captain and Mates go out of their way to make personal connections with everyone on board.

The world would be a better place if the spirit of Tenacious could be bottled and be and enjoyed as much as Caribbean rum punch.

Belinda, voyage crew