A More Active Holiday For The Disabled
This is the incredible story of an unusual and heartening account of a wonderfully enjoyable holiday carried out by two members of my MS group. I thank them both for allowing us to retell their adventure in the hope that I have managed to convey their enjoyment and maybe light somebody else's imagination of what they can still achieve. This is their story told by Richard.
Martin and I were fortunate enough to experience tall ship sailing last year with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, one of the UK's largest sailing charities. They were introduced to the project and indeed sponsored by their local Rotary Club, two of whose members accompanied them as ?buddies? on the voyage.
As members of the crew aboard S.V.Tenacious, we left Southampton on 1st July 03. Both being wheelchair bound with virtually no experience of sailing it was quite exciting being dropped onto a ruddy great glorious vessel that was superbly equipped and adapted to tolerate the clumsiness and needs of us wheelchair inhabitants. Drowning didn't appear quite so inevitable, and there's a bar on board.
After mooring one night at the Isle of Wight, and despite there being very little wind, we set sail for the French Coast. A good percentage of the crew are disabled and all have to quickly get the hang of not just understanding the orders but responding reasonably efficiently to them. The recently introduced ?Watch Leaders? weren't over tolerant.
We visited the Mulberry Docks on our way to the beaches in our orange inflatables at Arromanches. There we were able to partake of the local cafes and the war museum. Next day the anchor is weighed by 7 o'clock and we're heading for the River Seine. The accommodation and food on board was excellent. After breakfast we head along the river to our destination Rouen, and the gathering of the Tall Ships.
The French do a thorough job of celebrating the sea. For the length of the river; bands are playing; flags and banners are waved and as we're the only vessel in sight, they're cheering us. When we reach Rouen the full glamour of France's celebration of the festival of the sea greets us and we are suddenly members of L'Armada Rouen. Thirty two tall ships, from plenty of different nationalities, and the sun shone.
We spent the next three days as tour guides to hundreds of tourists. They were mainly French, with a few British and one or two other nationalities. They were all very interested in the intimacies of the almost unique sailing ship, suited for a crew of not so able bodied. Not quite unique because of Tenacious's older sister ship, Lord Nelson. We were then released with the freedom of tourism ourselves.
France was just about wheelchair accessible and we enjoyed it very much.From there we travelled to the Channel Islands continuing to carry out our necessary tasks and chores, which we are all becoming accustomed to. This included washing the heads; scrubbing the decks; being on watch too many times, night and day; mess duty; going aloft; bracing the sails; hauling the top gallant; being hoisted aloft, and being keel hauled, well maybe not, but a few of us jumped overboard for a very cool swim. Then to Isle de Brehart, ashore in inflatable dinghy's and were happy tourists again.
Back to Falmouth, Cornwall, GB and it's all over, but none of them would have missed it for the world. I know of at least two who would jump at the chance of another trip. Many thanks go to Chris at the Rotary Club and buddies Gareth and Dave.
For more information visit the Jubilee Sailing Trust website.