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Able to sail: partnership at sea.

Able to Sail: Partnership at Sea

Disability, it has been said, is a point of view. And for the hundreds of men and women who have shared the exhilaration of sailing with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, it has been a point of view which has changed dramatically for the better.

Sharing shipboard challenges aboard the Trust's barque, the LORD NELSON, has given both able-bodied and voyagers with disabilities a new point of view and a new understanding of how small the differences are between them.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust was established in 1978 with a donation from the Queen's Silver Jubilee Appeal Fund in England, from an idea conceived by its founder Christopher Rudd, BA, (Cantab), a teacher and sailor who had worked for many years with persons having disabilities.

The Trust's objective is to assist the rehabilitation and re-integration of persons with physical disabilities back into the mainstream of society by enabling them to share with the ablebodied the challenge of crewing a square-rigged vessel at sea.

Research and experience with the Trust's sailing voyages in British coastal waters have shown that the idea works. Especially remarkable is the way in which this exhilarating crewing experience regenerates the "will to win." The closed community of a sailing ship, in which crew members are totally interdependent and share a common purpose, fosters a permanent bond.

Now Americans with and without disabilities will have the same opportunity to crew and live in close harmony aboard the LORD NELSON, through the creation of the American Friends of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, Inc., a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation based here in the U.S.

The LORD NELSON, under the U.S. Trust's sponsorship, takes an equal number of persons with disabilities and able-bodied men and women between the ages of 16 and 70 to sea off the southern U.S. coastline.

While the Trust's goal is to make the operation of the LORD NELSON here as self-supporting as possible from its berth fees, it will on occasion subsidize potential crew in particular hardship cases.

Americans who participate in the Sailing Trust's U.S. voyages will be able to test themselves to previously undreamed-of limits. The sea has always provided a challenge to the able-bodied; now, the American Friends of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, Inc., extends it to persons with physical disabilities as well.

At sea, there is always the element of danger. There would be no sense of challenge or excitement if this were not so. The specially-designed

LORD NELSON is equipped to help persons with disabilities share in this challenge with their able-bodied crewmates.

Applicants from the U.S. are screened by the Trust on a first-come basis. A medical board selected by the Trust evaluates each potential voyager to determine their ability to safely participate. In addition to the specialized gear on board, the three-masted barque has a well-equipped sickbay and pharmacy, and sails with a trained medical staff.

After each voyage, a group of unified people return, who have not only had an unforgettable holiday, but who have learned to respect and trust each other as valuable working partners.


The Design Story

To design the first sailing ship in the world in which persons with physical disabilities are half the working crew presented a unique challenge for naval architect Colin Mudie, FRINA. To make the Sailing Trust's dream a reality, plans were laid to build the LORD NELSON to meet the stringent safety regulations established by the Department of Transport of the UK, and to build her to Lloyd's 1OO Al construction standards.

Named and dedicated in 1986 by its patron and sponsor, HRH The Prince Andrew, CVO, ADC of England and his then-fiance Miss Sarah Ferguson, The LORD NELSON is the largest ship of its kind to be built in Britain in 75 years.

The barque is a three-masted square rigger of some 400 tons with a deck of 141 feet and ample beam. She was designed with as many built-in features as possible for persons with physical disabilities to function actively alongside their able-bodied shipmates without taking away the element of challenge.

Her hull is of steel, her deckhouses and spars of aluminum alloy for stability, her sails are of terylene, and she is insulated against noise and heat with the newest materials available. She is extensively fitted with roller-furling sails, reducing the number of crew needed to go aloft.

The LORD NELSON boasts a modern engine room with twin Herald Marine diesel engines, each giving 260 shaft horsepower for auxiliary propulsion, and a pair of 70KVA generators to power the comprehensive electrical and hydraulic systems.

The ship's generous size answers the need for wheelchair accessibility. All her decks are flat, without steps. Hydraulic lifts assist the movement between decks, and personnel cranes help those using wheelchairs get aboard. A special lift seat elevates voyagers to the foremast for a seagull's eye view.

For persons with visual disabilities, the LORD NELSON is provided with various tactile surfaces and high intensity lights to help in their orientation. For those persons with impaired hearing, a system of warning lights and vibrator pads in their bunks is linked to the alarm bell circuit.

The charthouse has ship-to-shore radio and the steering from there or from the bridge is light, thanks to hydraulic power. There is even a CB radio for enthusiasts.

Navigation aids include an audio compass for the blind and a bright track screen for persons with partial sight.

Down Below

Below decks are accommodations accessible to all. From the forecastle, where there are 18 folding pipecots for the fitter crew to sleep, the accommodation widens out to the main messdeck, reached by lift from the galley above.

Eight double cabins are abaft the messdeck, each designed with special berths for persons in wheelchairs and one other sleeping in the pipecot above. There are two special lavatories and showers fitted out among the total of eight on this deck. Further aft is a lounge with bar, a laundry, a library and a workshop.

The sickbay, overseen by a medical professional, is fitted out principally as a treatment room with pharmacy. Right aft are the professional crew's private quarters.

The Crew

Under a regular Captain and Sailing Master, there are five other permanent crew, including a medic, to guide and instruct the 42 mixed-ability crew on each cruise. All are qualified to the highest professional standards, including mechanical and electronic expertise.

The Trust

The primary aim of the American Friends of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, Inc., is to foster the re-integration of the persons with disabilities into society, and to enhance their understanding by able-bodied people, through active sails at sea.

To reach these objectives in the United States, the Trust has been set up as a U.S. corporation and given tax exempt status under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Trust is registered in Connecticut, with operating offices in Palm Beach, Florida.

The Trust is raising funds to make it possible for both persons with disabilities and able-bodied U.S. citizens to have the therapeutic benefit of a voyage on the LORD NELSON during her winter seasons in southeastern coastal waters, and eventually for a United States vessel to be built.

The American Friends of the Jubilee Sailing Trust was organized specifically to promote North American participation in the voyages of STS LORD NELSON, and is headquartered in the National Ocean Access Project Offices in Newport, Rhode Island.

Additional Information

Additional information and application materials for OPERATION N.O.A.H.'s future voyages aboard LORD NELSON may be obtained from:

National Ocean Access Project, 410 Severn Avenue, Suite 506, Annapolis, Maryland 21403; Telephone: (301) 280-0464
COPYRIGHT 1989 National Rehabilitation Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:sailing for the disabled
Author:Leung, Paul
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Date:Apr 1, 1989
Previous Article:Design for all persons: the Architectural Barriers Act and public transit.
Next Article:Empowering people with cerebral palsy.

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