Voyage of discovery through pages of a book
I HAVE just circumnavigated the world in the sail training ship Lord Nelson. I enjoyed the company of her two very able captains, Barbara Campbell, from Dunoon, and Chris Phillips, together with her professional crews.
The ship was sailed by these qualified sailors with around 1,000 crew, both able-bodied and disabled, sailing different ‘legs’ of the circumnavigation. All aboard (apart from me, the only passenger) were part of the crew sailing “Nellie”, and many had never sailed or even rowed a boat before setting foot on the gangway. We set sail from Southampton on Trafalgar Day, October 21, 2012, and did not return until September 26, 2014.
‘Lord Nelson is part of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a charity set up in 1978 to integrate physically disabled with able-bodied people on tall ships – the result was Tenacious and Lord Nelson, which were built to accommodate the varied needs of people with physical problems.
This was to be the adventure of a lifetime, with up to 40 crew sailing for each leg of the journey. I was astonished at the abilities of the people branded disabled, and their willingness to do things, such as going up the rigging in a wheelchair or steering the ship when you are blind.
We sailed through strong gales, high seas, torrential tropical downpours and were in the Doldrums for a while. Sailing in Lord Nelson, under full sail, was an amazing experience and the ship looked absolutely stunning, sailing at speeds of up to 14.2 knots.
Near the tropics, at times it could be unbearably hot and in Antarctica, freezing cold.
We visited busy ports, safe harbours, Antarctic shores, tropical islands and secluded bays out of reach to all but intrepid sailors. We sailed alongside vessels of all shapes and sizes but often did not see another vessel for days on end. I crossed the equator six times in the company of Neptune’s Court and a great many pollywoggles (look it up). I sang along with Queen as we approached Freemantle, making our fun video based on the band’s song, I Want to Break Free song.
At one stage the captain and her mates posed with guns, prepared to face pirates, alongside armed security guards. Fortunately, firepower was not needed, but you have to be prepared. I also saw her and the crew wearing some very strange outfits on more than one occasion, but perhaps this was one law of the sea which I did not understand.
I saw scenery and wildlife, which were unforgettable. My vocabulary was broadened dra- matically. The camaraderie was infectious and although at times I was scared, at others almost seasick, I had great fun.
Locals in the places we visited were mainly generous, warm and welcoming. During her two-year voyage Nellie covered 52,557 nautical miles and I was there for every one of them.
I should confess that this was all without leaving my sofa, as I have just finished reading the new book, Sail the World by Alan Fisher who sailed as a bosun’s mate on four legs of the voyage. There are full contributions from both captains and others from crew members, with a glorious spread of beautiful photographs.
Profits from sales go towards the Jubilee Sailing Trust to help enable more people enjoy the experience of a lifetime and perhaps change their lives for the better.
Enjoy the voyage yourself – Sail the World by Alan Fisher is available from YPD Books, 64 Hallfield Road, Layerthorpe. York, YO31 7QZ. The special advance order price is £20 plus £ 3.75 P&P. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captain Barbara Campbell lives in Dunoon. She joined the merchant navy in 1975 as a deck cadet and has sailed as master in tall ships since 1999.