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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sail-training ship in NZ waters in October

Yesterday, I looked out the window to see the barkentine Spirit of New Zealand gliding across the mirror-like waters of the inner harbour, under full sail.

What a beautiful sight.

In October, the chances of seeing ships under sail in Wellington will increase, with the arrival of the luxury sail-training bark Lord Nelson (pictured above) for a series of coastal voyages.

Lord Nelson is a remarkable ship, as well as very easy on the eye.  Commissioned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST), she is the 'flagship' for the Trust's mission to enable people with disabilities to sail.

Designed by Colin Mudie -- who took a series of tall ship voyages for primary research -- and built at Wivenhoe, Essex, by the appropriately named James W. Cook, the Lord Nelson first began to take shape in October 1984, after funding was secured through a generous donation from Sir Jack Hayward. Sir Jack performed the keel laying ceremony on a date which was chosen to be as close to Trafalgar Day as possible, the day in 1805 when Admiral Lord Nelson achieved his most famous victory.

Many decisions had to be made about the final layout of the ship, to enable her to be functional and practical for people of all physical abilities. It was almost a year after the formal keel laying that the ship was launched, by Lady Aitken whose late husband, Sir Max Aitken's generous donation had enabled the JST to set up its first office in London.

Monetary problems at Cook's yard meant a series of hitches, and eventually the final work was completed by Vosper Thornycroft in Southampton and at Cole’s Yard on the Isle of Wight. In October 1986 Lord Nelson made her maiden voyage. Since then Lord Nelson has taken over 24,000 people on a voyage, of these 10,000 were physically disabled and nearly 5,000 were wheelchair users.

I look forward to seeing this remarkable ship.

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