If you’re anything like me, a week on board the Jubilee Sailing Trust’s ship Lord Nelson won’t feel like nearly enough. There’s so much to do, so much to take in, and so much enjoyment to be had – the time flies by and, before you know it, it’s time to disembark and you’re wishing you didn’t have to leave.

Our trip began in Oban, where the impressive ship attracted plenty of attention at the quayside.

The friendly and always helpful permanent crew were on hand to help us settle in and get to know the ship, before we departed the following morning. From the outset, everyone on board is fully involved in sailing the ship. The number of ropes which seem to run in every direction – and the initially strange nautical terms which describe them – can seem daunting to begin with, but the crew’s instruction is excellent and you gradually start to understand how things work.

Those on board are divided into “watches”, who take turns being on duty and performing a variety of tasks, from helming the ship to recording important information when Lord Nelson is at anchor. Standing at the ship’s wheel and steering the huge vessel through the water is quite an experience, and a talking compass ensures that anyone can follow the course dictated by the crew.

Perhaps the high point (no pun intended) was the opportunity to climb the ship’s mast, which many took with enthusiasm. Everyone was encouraged to strap on a harness and go aloft and, having received the relevant safety information, those with a real head for heights were then able to climb when other duties allowed. This culminated in several of us going out on the yards to stow the sails upon our return to Oban.

Ship's Crew

Hauling the heavy sails up and onto the yard would have been difficult with both feet firmly on the ground, but we were doing it while balancing on foot ropes high above the deck. It’s the kind of thing you could never have imagined doing when we first stepped onto the ship, but the cool heads and patience of the crew members alongside us ensured the job got done.

Ship's Sails

Life on board the Lord Nelson is an intense experience, as is any situation where you live in close quarters with lots of other people 24 hours a day. But this makes for a wonderful camaraderie and, although the trip is a short one, close friendships are formed as everyone mucks in together.

The Crew on Deck

Mess duty works on rotation, so that everyone takes their turn serving the meals and clearing up afterwards. “Happy hour”, which takes place twice on our week-long trip, involves cleaning all parts of the ship and is tackled with gusto by all on board.

There were also opportunities to go ashore at Rhum, where we visited the eccentric Kinloch Castle and its excellent guide Ross, and Tobermory, which was familiar to some as the setting of the children’s TV show Balamory with its kaleidoscope of brightly coloured houses.

Spending the summer solstice anchored near Tobermory with a spectacular sunset over the mountains reflected in a tranquil sea will be hard to beat. A trip like this encourages everyone to push themselves and to work hard, but all on board rise to the challenge and it proved to be an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable experience which I would recommend to anyone. 

Looking across the water to another vessel.

Watch George describe her time at sea and say thanks to our funders The Queen’s Trust for a “once in a lifetime” experience.

If you’d like to experience life on board a Tall Ship – or similar adventures – then please email info@look-uk.org.uk to register your interest.