time around 1977, Christopher Rudd was sailing at Bule Water in Kent when
he observed a number of people with various disabilities watching the
At this time there were limited facilities for people with
disabilities to go dinghy sailing, but deep water and tall ships….not a
chance…unless we count Long John Silver!
moment, he campaigned tirelessly, giving talks, raising funds etc. until
the Jubilee Sailing Trust was formed in 1978 with a good kick off from the
Queen’s Silver Jubilee Fund.
during that time that the people of Wivenhoe first heard of the idea, when
Christopher Rudd gave a talk at the Nottage.
Three ships were studied for early trials, The Marquis, STS
Royalist and the Soren Larson. The
latter was owned by the Davis brothers of Colchester and came to the River
Colne as a Baltic Trader. After
being converted and fitted on the River Colne in Essex, she was finally
selected for the job. She had
already earned fame in The Onedin Line TV series.
beautiful little ship, still sailing today for Tony Davis in the southern
Hemisphere, Soren Larson was a great success….so much so, that the need
for a larger, specially designed tall ship was apparent.
fund raising and much effort ensued with the Duke of York as Patron and
Francis Cator as chairman of the Trust.
Colin Mudie, a well known yachtsman, adventurer and designer was
commissioned to design the new ship.
Local people began campaigning to raise funds, after all, we had
the ideal yard to build the ship right here in Wivenhoe.
ironical that with Wivenhoe’s long association with the sea and sailing
ships, one of the last ships to be launched here, in 1985 (apart from a
small barge), was the three-masted steel barque Lord Nelson.
the keel was laid and the project helped by a large donation from the
millionaire Jack Hayward. Even
with the expertise to hand there were many problems…men at the yard
grumbled that the ship was designed by a committee…but this was
inevitable…the Trust was still in a learning curve. But she took shape
and local people could watch her grow on the ways until the grand day of
her launching and naming as the Lord Nelson.
Most small yards were having financial difficulties at that time
and Cook’s was no exception.
this stage she was without her masts and spars so not a ship of
beauty…the fishermen thought she “looked like a slab sided old
coaster” and when the broad bowsprit went on with its wheel chair ramp
it did look strange. As she
lay in the fitting out basin there were growing financial problems.
misty morning in the early hours Jan Sinclair received a call.
‘Come down quickly, the ship is being towed away before the
Receivers can get her and we need volunteers to help with fenders’.
Hundreds of people seemed to find out and she slipped away to an
eerie and sad silence, a complete contrast to the cheers at her launching.
She was the last of a long line of ships to be built on the River
Colne and the end of an era, hopefully not to be forgotten as industrial
Wivenhoe becomes desirable Wivenhoe.
of Southampton took on the job and then they had a dispute
She went to a yard on the Isle of Wight which subsequently
closed…at that time all the small yards were following the same route…
and so she returned to Vospers where she was finally completed.
JST had put a million pounds ‘up front’ and there ensued a long fight
to retrieve some or all of this from the receivers.
The Lord Nelson was not mentioned for a long time with favour in
Wivenhoe but by 1998 when we persuaded the Trust to allow her to return to
her birthplace, with difficulty in a much silted up river, people lined
the banks and she was cheered home.
many as possible of the people who had built her were contacted and given
the chance to see what they had created.
They also saw and heard at first hand from the voyage crew what
effect the ship had on peoples lives.
Sadly one or two of the builders could not face it even after all
those years, but those that did went away smiling and a ghost was laid.
Most people knew that whatever ship had been on the stocks at that
time of building, would have suffered the same.
we now know is that the sheer tenacity
of all those who saw the project through produced a first in the world
and has changed thousands of lives. Now
the JST has built a second ship to meet the demand.
strange that the sponsor from America who put up the vast sum to choose
the name of our second ship should choose “Tenacious”.
to 2003, The
Lord Nelson has:
over 19,000 people to sea.
7,064 people were physically disabled and over 2,860 were
of the Lord Nelson:
overall including bowsprit
Max speed - power
Max speed - sail
» Soren Larson was fitted with tracks on the decks for
wheel chair users. Thankfully
they did not work and freedom of movement became the order of the day.
Of all the disabled groups, the second largest has been those
suffering with blindness. The
ship has sailed over 240,000 miles to date.
» More able bodied people have suffered with sea sickness , been ill or
had minor accidents than disabled.
build a second ship??
Lord Nelson will not last for ever and could not meet the demand for
voyages, hence the building of Tenacious.
She has been built out of wood, unlike the steel hull of the Lord Nelson. A
wooden ship of this kind is more expensive but Lloyds already estimate a
potential 60-100 year life, against 30-40 for a steel ship.
would be daft enough to use unskilled and semiskilled amateurs alongside
in a shipyard environment ?
Trust’s director was convinced of the need to involve the large number
of disabled and able bodied supporters of the Trust in a more direct way
and a wooden ship lends itself to such an ideal.
The strip plank method is very labour intensive, hence the need for
a number of unskilled workers…it really worked and the shop floor
atmosphere was terrific.
in their right mind would build a wooden ship of this size these days?
is too specialised without the broad skill base of wood and it is
It was a brave decision to start the project Once
again, the JST has broken new ground.
Project cost for Tenacious is £14.3 million
Sports fund awarded £6.5 million.
Total of £11.8 million has been raised...only another £2.5
million to clear the debt!!