Fair Winds Following Seas – Farewell Friend

11 Oct

I’m saying good bye to another old friend, a tangible piece of my life’s adventure.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust operates two tall ships that are designed to accommodate many forms of disability, not only things like deafness and sight impaired, but also stroke victims, amputees, wheelchair users and mental health sufferers. We are all involved within the watch rota to sail the ships and keep them shipshape. Across her thirty year history STS Lord Nelson known as “Nellie”, has circumnavigated the globe, chased icebergs, clipped the Bermuda Triangle, tamed the China Seas, she has raced as part of the tall ship fleets and been the floating ambassador and has touched hundreds of thousands of mixed ability lives for the better.

A family friend passed a brochure to me in the eighties and I had toyed with the idea of running away to sea, so when Nellie visited my home port I secretly took myself off, explored her and spoke to a volunteer crew member, over a mug of hot tea and freshly baked cake we chatted, mused, discussed and laughed. After that I made up my mind to throw myself fully into this once-in-a-lifetime-never-to-repeat adventure and booked a four-week passage from Southampton to Gran Canaria via Lisbon.

The experience was nerve wracking, exhilarating, daunting, engaging, challenging, educational, but filled with hilarity, congeniality, and above all else, equality. We were just a bunch of people sailing together. I enjoyed myself so much that I repeated the experience another two times on Nellie before my last voyage on the sister ship Tenacious. The atmosphere and camaraderie onboard is indescribable and so special. It’s where I learnt to tie a bona fide hangman’s noose, take down the shipping forecast, complete obs for the Met Office. I’ve hauled ropes, peeled potatoes, polished brass, coiled ropes, swabbed decks, scrubbed toilets, pulled ropes, brewed tea, repaired flags, and messed about with ropes. I’ve been man handled, hauled, shoved, shifted, and tied down, I’ve laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed; I’ve helmed, watched, hauled, radioed, taught navigation rhymes, learnt a bewildering language of terms and created a few specific to Nellie and many other such useful/less life skills. I even have a qualification, the Department of Transport Steering Competency (sailing) Certificate from time at the helm before the mast. I’ve made friends I still keep in touch with. I’ve had conversations and shared experiences (like being at the helm when we were struck by lightning, playing with dolphins, counting shooting stars). There are anecdotes galore, not all repeatable in polite company.

Recently the Trust has been forced to look hard at its future running. A promised significant donation from a business source failed to materialise resulting in the Trust nearly folding (we raised £1 million in a week to save it). Subsequently the decision has been sadly made to decommission Nellie.

I kept a detailed diary, my (dis)abled seapersons twig (as opposed to captains log) for two of my voyages are on my website It’s on my list to add the others.

It is unknown what her next adventure will be, but I wish her fair winds and following seas, as we salty dog types say; and another piece of my heart is broken and another tear will fall.


Posted by on October 11, 2019 in In The News, Life, people, Projects, Website


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6 responses to “Fair Winds Following Seas – Farewell Friend

  1. menhir1

    October 11, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    A beautiful set of experiences, a store of lovely memories and a very touching personal eulogy.
    It was all beautifully illustrated with your pictures.

    A local pharmacist joined these adventures along with other support crew. She loved it, though wasn’t so good, herself, in stormy seas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AnneMarie

      October 11, 2019 at 12:14 pm

      Some of the best sailors suffer with the mal-de-mere, once their equilibrium settled they were set. I remember on my first voyage after seven days at sea you could spot Nellie’s crew because we were the ones swaying in unison, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      • menhir1

        October 11, 2019 at 3:50 pm

        The local pharmacist was a regular sailor at the local yacht club. No rigged ships there though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. deacongill

    October 11, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    I think I’ve read a post by you before about this and thought then what a brilliant, brilliant thing to do. Courage and tenacity!

    Liked by 1 person

    • AnneMarie

      October 11, 2019 at 6:24 pm

      Yes, I posted a blog last November around armistice day, plus my website has two of my voyages blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. snowbird

    October 13, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    What amazing adventures they must have been, wow, the memories you must have. Daughter sailed on a tall ship many moons ago, she described it as you did. I shall go off and read of your adventures. xxx

    Liked by 1 person


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