Lord Nelson sails in to emotional welcome

00:00, Nov 18 2013
Lord Nelson
CUT ABOVE: The British tall ship Lord Nelson enters Port Nelson with a flotilla of boats trailing.

For many, it was the chance of a lifetime to be at sea. For others, it was a moment of quiet pride as the tall ship Lord Nelson glided through The Cut, and into the safe harbour of the city of its namesake.

A fleet of around 30 yachts, launches, powerboats and sailing dinghies greeted the 55-metre British sailing ship on Saturday as it appeared on the horizon of Tasman Bay, but with only enough wind to fill a topsail.

Long-time volunteer with the Spirit of New Zealand Trust, Sheila Budgen of Motueka, was on board with the mix of able-bodied crew from around the world, and disabled crew for whom the ship is specially arranged. She is used to coming into the city on the Spirit of New Zealand, but admitted to feeling "quite emotional" at the turnout by Nelsonians on Saturday.

"It was really nice to have such a wonderful welcome from Nelson."

She said the powhiri on shore once the ship had docked was also a big event for many who had never before seen one.

The 55-metre square rigged vessel, owned by UK charity, the Jubilee Sailing Trust, is on a voyage around New Zealand on a two-year global journey, the Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge. The ship and crew aim to promote the messages of equality and inclusion in the ports they visit, Jubilee Sailing Trust chief executive Alex Lochrane said.

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Disabled crew are aided by equipment such as a speaking compass, braille signage, hearing loops, wheelchair lifts between decks and a bowsprit wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

Seventeen year-old Otis Horne of Hastings, who has been wheelchair-bound since the age of three with spina bifida, was on the helm to help guide the Lord Nelson into the harbour on Saturday.

"I had to steer to the right angle but Barbara [Captain Barbara Campbell] told me what to do. It was difficult though - I thought it would be easier."

Bruce Chappell of Gosford in New South Wales made the trip to Wellington to join the ship, because he wanted to see and experience some of the sea passages tackled by Captain James Cook on his historic voyages.

He was among the able-bodied crew to have bought a passage for the journey, that required all on board to help run the ship.

"The strength and participation of those on board are what makes the ship function. Everyone on it was all bright-eyed and wanting to learn. It gives all a great chance to do something new," Mr Chappell said.

The Lord Nelson sailed from Wellington to Picton then out of the Marlborough Sounds, west across Tasman Bay to Abel Tasman National Park before coming into Nelson.

Captain Campbell said the entry to Nelson was helped by the expert advice from Port Nelson pilots.

The Lord Nelson is due to leave Nelson tomorrow around 11.15am bound for Auckland.

The Nelson Mail