My week on the waves with the Jubilee Sailing Trust

It was just my luck to join the Lord Nelson during one of our now all too regular storms.  I joined the ship on Trafalgar day (October 21st). The weather was so bad that we stayed quayside in Poole that night and enjoyed a three-course celebratory dinner in honour of Lord Nelson.  I did not know anyone, not even my buddy I had been paired with for the whole week. The second day we left Poole and decided to test the waters and drop anchor in Swanage Bay.  The trip was not a smooth one, let’s just say a lot of crew were feeling the effects of the choppy waters.  As we had dropped anchor we had to still be on watch, check our bearings, the weather conditions and the radar to make sure all was well.  My first shift on watch was a 6-8 AM.  Not a lot I could do because we weren’t sailing but understandably I still had to be on duty.  The most entertaining time of this watch was whilst walking back in to the chart room and at the top of the stairs my buddy gave me the wrong directions consequently I walked straight in to a pole, no bruises but a lot of laughs were had about it the rest of the week.

Monday, we couldn’t travel very far as the sea was still to rough and we had to return to Poole to drop off our chef and wait for his replacement.  Being alongside meant that we had a chance to go aloft, when given the opportunity I jumped at it and scurried up the mast to the platform.  The only bit I seemed to struggle with was climbing up and away from the ship to get level with the platform.  Another night was spent quayside but this time two watches joined up and went out for dinner.  We had a very enjoyable meal in an Italian restaurant and despite the lack of sailing we returned to the ship with lifted spirits.  The next two days were spent sailing, we sailed to the east side of the Isle of Wight and as the weather was positively nearly tropical on Wednesday (especially when we were on watch on the bridge) we were meant to drop anchor at Cowes that night but the captain and permanent crew decided we would just go sailing halfway across the English Channel.  The water was so calm compared to the last two days it felt that we were almost not in the same area at all.  Wednesday evening until Thursday after lunch I had to be on mess duty interesting when you consider the movement of the ship and then add in to the equation my lack of sight.  Dishing out plates of food could be interesting! The trickiest meal to hand out was breakfast; unlucky for me that day it was sausage, poached egg and tinned plum tomatoes.  I made an executive decision to only hand out the plates without tomato as this would reduce my chances of making a mess.  Throughout my time on mess duty I didn’t break anything or spill food or drinks on anybody, all in all a successful time, what a relief!

The crew are split in to four watches, these watches take turns in sailing, being on look out, if the ship is harbourside they keep the ship secure and safe.  the four watches are Port forward, Aft Port, Starboard Forward and Aft Starboard.  Lord Nelson is what’s known as a sail training ship so the permanent crew and bosons mates are all very patient and are very inventive.  So that I understood what some of the sails do one of the bosons mates went and found a tool that they use to teach new staff on the ship and showed me how to put a sail on a yard.  Basically, tying the sail up.  The tool was a broom handle with a tea-towel stapled to it with bits of string tied through holes at strategic points to represent ropes.  I learn skills by doing and this simple method really helped me to understand how the sails worked.  Another bosons mate during a talk about ships and how to tell what kind of ship they are day or night laid some string on the table in front of me and when the different ships were drawn on the board for everyone to see she would make the basic shape in front of me for me to feel the outline.  It was another simple concept but I felt included and they helped my understanding of what ships and sails look like.  I am very grateful for them thinking out of the box.

I am sure if you were to ask me or my colleagues about how worried I was before going on my adventure both they and I will tell you I was terrified.  I must have had a very enjoyable time because the following Monday I booked myself on a trip from Southampton to Belfast for next May.

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