Voy­age of dis­cov­ery through pages of a book

The Oban Times - - OUTDOORS - RE­VIEW ed­i­tor@oban­times.co.uk Ann Gal­liard

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 or­ders@yps-pub­lish­ing.co.uk.

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.

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