News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday July 23rd 2018

Accessible British tall ship Lord Nelson returns to Cape Town after a week at sea.

The tall ship Lord Nelson returns to Cape Town harbour after a week in the southern oceans with a mixture of able-bodied and disabled crew members. Photo: Katie de Klee/WCN


The Lord Nelson, a uniquely designed, accessible 55m British tall ship, returned to the Cape Town harbour yesterday after a week-long voyage with a crew of disabled and able-bodied sailors.

Amongst the crew who have been on board for the last week was David Kapelus, Director of the international law firm Norton Rose. Kapelus, 49, has been in a wheelchair for 30 years.

“It’s been an incredible challenge,” said Kapelus, “it’s been tough. But being part of a group of strangers who had to form an effective team within a day or two was a real learning experience. It’s inspiring, what it does for individuals is quite fantastic.”

The voyage crew are paired into buddies and divided into four teams. These four teams rotate sailing duties. Many of them have never sailed before, but the focus of the JST is on everyone’s individual abilities: on what each can do.

“Everything is manual,” said Kapelus, “nothing happens without a rope being pulled. Setting the masts, moving the sails, the ship gets scrubbed down everyday, mess duties, watch duties. I’ve never shied away from a challenge, but boy this was one. It’s fantastic.”

Brandon Davids, another member of this week’s crew, is 23 and has been profoundly deaf since he was only 3 weeks old. Davids is a student of the charity Whisper Boat Building Academy for the deaf. His parents Vivienne and Clinton Smith were waiting for him at the Waterfront today.

“It’s the chance of a lifetime”, said his father Clinton.

“I missed him,” said Vivienne, “It’s his first time on a boat. He loves it.”

Bill Smith, a loyal supporter of the JST and a 25-time member of the Lord Nelson voyage crew said “this trip has been one of the best voyages I have been on. It’s been a hoot. It takes people out of their comfort zone and they discover things they never knew they could do.”

Cape Town’s Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson came to address the crew yesterday morning.

“People who are differently able were previously relegated to the margins of most activities,” said Neilson, “and they are now taking their rightful place. Now they are more equipped to embark on adventures like this.”
The Lord Nelson, built in 1984 by the UK based Jubilee Sailing Trust charity (JST) and named after Britain’s most famous disabled sailor, has a wide deck for ease of movement, lifts to the lower deck, brail signage and a speaking compass for the blind. There are eight permanent crew members and on each leg there is a voyage crew of 35, half able-bodied and half disabled. This is the ship’s first trip to Africa.

The Lord Nelson left Southampton in October 2012 and continues its round the world trip on the 17 February, first to Durban and then on to India. During the 23 month trip the Lord Nelson will cross the equator four times, visit 30 countries and travel 50 000 miles. – Katie de Klee

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4 Responses to “Accessible British tall ship Lord Nelson returns to Cape Town after a week at sea.”

  1. Marion Jackson says:

    Is it possible to find out the exact date and time when The Lord Nelson will be arriving in Durban.
    Thanking you,

  2. […] 12.02.13. The Lord Nelson, a uniquely designed, accessible 55m British tall … Read more on West Cape News ← Pakistan on song in Cape Town Cancel […]

  3. Lynn Johnson says:

    Hi, I am also trying to find out when exactly this ship will be arriving in Durban and when will it leave. The Harbour Master seems unable to give this info and it is really hard to find it on the Web.


  4. admin says:

    So sorry for the late reply. I’m afraid the Lord Nelson appears to have been and gone in Durban. I hope you managed to see her. – Ed.

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