Interview with Dylan Nelson: Dublin Monday 30th October 2017
Dylan, who introduced you to the Jubilee Sailing Trust?
In 2012 Sail Training Ireland contacted Enable Ireland looking for people to sail on the last leg of the Tall Ships Races from La Coruna in Spain to Dublin. I was offered a berth on
the Lord Nelson. Since then I’ve done four voyages, in the UK, Canada, France, Spain and Portugal.
Do you get allocated a watch leader when you join the ship?
Yes, your watch leader greets you when you go on board, shows you around the ship and explains what to expect. On my last voyage I was in Forward Starboard watch.
Which is your favourite duty on the ship?
Doing watch duty on the bridge. A watch is generally four hours long and your team are in charge, under the supervision of a member of the permanent crew. I got to helm and also my favourite task, to act as look-out . My nickname was ‘Eagle Eye’!
Do you go up to the Crow’s Nest/fighting Platform in your wheelchair?
Yes, I go up at least once every voyage. It happens when we’re in port. You can be hoisted up by other members of the crew or you can haul yourself up. The last couple of times I hauled myself up. I was really tired afterwards , but very happy. It was a big achievement!
How does it feel to have ten people pulling on a rope and hoisting you aloft?
Scary! Not in control! I prefer to be in control, so I like to haul myself up.
You sailed on the third leg of the Tall Ships Races 2016, Cadiz to La Coruna. Did you enjoy having 50% of the crew under 25 years of age?
Yes, I liked having people my own age to chat to and go out with when we were in port.
Young people receive a bursary to sail as voyage crew with the Jubilee Sailing Trust. Which organisation funded your voyage?
Sail Training Ireland is the national sail training organisation in Ireland. Sail Training Ireland recruit voyage crew – ‘trainees’ – and source bursaries. My bursary came from the Irish Cruising Club.
Dylan, did you sail with a buddy?
Yes, my good friend Fred has been my buddy on my four voyages.
Were there any other Irish people sailing as voyage crew on the third leg of the Tall Ships Race?
Yes, four other Irish people were on board.
How was the craic on board the ship Dylan?
Brilliant! Best voyage yet! We all got on really well and had a great laugh. My watch was brilliant. I made friends for life.
Which was the best port and why?
El Havo, in Portugal. It was well set up and accessible. The food was great … and the music.
Would you like to sail again as voyage crew?
Yes, I’d love to sail in Australia.
Who was the captain? How many permanent crew are aboard? And how many voyage crew?
The Captain was Barbara Campbell. There are eight permanent crew, five volunteers -four bosun’s mates and a cook’s assistant, not forgetting the 40 voyage crew (which are split into 4 watches of 10).
Did sailing on the ship help your confidence in communicating with a diverse range of people?
I would say so, yes. I got to meet people with different disabilities and from different countries and cultures and of all ages (16+). You have to be very clear when explaining things.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of sailing as voyage crew with the Jubilee Sailing Trust?
Definitely do it! It’s an experience you’ll never forget. You’ll want to do it again and again and it gives you something to focus on.
Contact Sail Training Ireland for advice on voyages and funding.
Interview conducted by Grainne and Fred Arntz, coordinators of the Dublin Branch of the Jubilee Sailing Trust.