Accessible Sailing Adventure to Antartica

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Disability Horizons


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If you want a challenge for your next travel adventure, consider signing up as a crew member aboard the Lord Nelson, an accessible tall ship commissioned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust whose mission is to enable people with disabilities to sail, and to work together with able-bodied individuals to foster teamwork.

Holly, who has Elhers-Danlos syndrome, a condition which makes her joints spontaneously dislocate, joined the crew of the Lord Nelson in Argentina. The Lord Nelson was making its way to Antarctica in a round-the-world voyage.

“This ship took no passengers. Everyone had to work hard, and almost half the crew had some form of disability.”

Holly’s adventure included both a cold, stormy crossing of the Drake Passage, and a warmer visit to an active volcano on Deception Island which included sailing into a lake with penguin and seal inhabitants.

Seasickness was an unpleasant part of this voyage which affected nearly all of the crew members at some point. The crew simply had to adapt and help out when necessary – many pitched in extra shifts in the kitchen to help out when others had fallen victim to seasickness.

Holly even discovered something she was really good at: spotting obstacles in the sea.

“Along the way I discovered that, while I lack the mobility that many of the others demonstrate when shimmying up and down the rigging, I was incredibly good at spotting growlers – small iceberg fragments that, if missed, can seriously damage a ship."

a boat with two people on it next to a small iceberg

The timing and courses of the sailing voyage were largely dependent on the weather and sea temperament. “I must say, the sense of real weather-dependent exploration was a welcome break in a world full of holiday schedules and instant gratification,” writes Holly. “The truth was, none of us, not even the captain, knew where we would be able to go on this voyage. And doing this in an accessible ship was a great idea. While many of us with disabilities are already familiar with making the best of uncertain situations, here we were presented with another new obstacle that we could grow from.”

Share this post with an adventure seeker who is looking for his or her next challenge!

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