On Day 7 and on our third and final day in Madeira it was time for assisted climbs. This is an opportunity for crew members who do not feel confident enough or who would be unable to ascend the mast in normal circumstances to achieve their goal. The three wheelchair users who wanted to ascend (including myself) assembled at the main mast and the others assembled at the forward mast. The rest of the crew are on deck to assist.
How does someone who is normally a wheelchair user ascend a mast?!
This is one of the many amazing things about JST, they have developed a method of hoisting someone complete with wheelchair up to the first platform. When I sailed on Tenacious many years back, I was unable to take part owing to a fall and bruising so this was one of my goals for this trip. Although I am not fond of heights it was something I really wanted to do to prove to myself I was still capable of a challenge.
Here I was all ready, sitting in a fabric Bosun's chair and strapped into my chair. I had to swap chairs just after this picture was taken because it was discovered my chair was too narrow for the apparatus used to lift the chair.
Looking a bit more serious as the lift begins.
There are two sets of ropes for added security.
My Watch plus others were there to haul me up with the ropes.
to the platform
where two members of the PC were waiting for me to be lowered onto the platform.
It was an incredible feeling being so high and able to experience being level with the yardarms.
This photograph makes it look far more scary than it felt returning to the main deck.
It is very humbling that all the crew involved in my ascent, worked together as a team and with good humour, to enable me to have this experience.
Thanks Guys, it was AMAZING.
Many thanks to Avril and Mike for the photographs too.
After lunch Captain Chris briefed us on our return voyage and we set sail into open waters again.
Bringing the buoys in and lifting the DOTTI boat back onboard.
Goodbye Funchel Pilot boat
Goodbye Madeira and hello choppy waters again.
There was a strong North Easterly wind blowing which meant we had to motor East before we could head South Westerly towards Gran Canaria the following day.
Happy Hour (cleaning time) followed our departure and Sam, another wheelchair user and I were given the task of cleaning all the stainless steel rails on the Bridge. The sea was very lumpy and we were both being tossed about so had to hang on the best way we could. This led to quite a bit of laughter and us both being covered from head to toe in Cif.
We were glad when it ended and it was time to relax with a cuppa.
The following two days were spent at sea. The routines of the ship, wind across the sails and surrounded by ocean lend a calmness and tranquility that has always spoken to me and why I love sailing. I am not sure if it is pure escapism or being surrounded by the elements and working with nature but it has a positive effect on me both physically and mentally.
We had seen very little wildlife during our voyage but on our last Watch, on the last day, we heard and saw a whale spout on the Port side of the stern. The spouts continued to the stern of the ship and finally on the Starboard side we saw the dorsal fin of a Minky whale.
Excitement all round and it was the perfect end to a perfect trip.
Later that afternoon we arrived in Gran Canaria and it was time to stow the sails, sort and pack everything away.
Once everything was shipshape we went ashore for a final meal with our Watch and a few other friends.
As you can probably tell by the number of glasses on the table a good time was had by all.
Although I had been very nervous about taking this trip I am so glad I dared to give it a go. New friends have been made, challenges achieved and as a result my confidence has improved.
Jubilee Sailing Trust aim to change lives - I'm not sure if my life has been changed but it has certainly been enriched by the JST experience.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Jubilee Sailing Trust or would like to experience a voyage with them yourself details can be found here.
Photographs by Tony, Ken, Avril, Mike and Anne