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Jubilee Sailing Trust tall ship Lord Nelson due to leave Southampton tomorrow on historic voyage
A Southampton-based tall ship is undergoing final preparations ahead of setting sail to become the first vessel of its kind to voyage around the world with a crew of disabled sailors.
The Jubilee Sailing Trust's (JST) ship Lord Nelson leaves the city tomorrow on its 23-month 50,000 mile journey.
The 55-metre ship, which is the first tall ship to have been built to enable physically-disabled and able-bodied people to sail side-by-side, will visit more than 30 countries on all seven continents and cross the equator four times during the trip.
Alex Lochrane, JST chief executive, said: ''This is no pleasure cruise - our crew will be working together to guide Lord Nelson across the Atlantic and then around the world.
''The Jubilee Sailing Trust is a unique charity. No-one else can enable disabled and able-bodied sailors to man a ship on totally equal terms.
''The modifications made to Lord Nelson include wheelchair lifts, Braille instructions, joystick steering.
''These include every crew member to have as much input as any other. It's a great cause and there are still places available for the rest of the voyage if people want to join our crew.
''We are delighted to be able to give both disabled and able-bodied people the opportunity to take on massive challenges and push their boundaries.''
Supporting the voyage are broadcaster Peter Snow, world explorer Sarah Outen and expedition leader Skip Novak who will pilot the Lord Nelson when it sails to the Antarctic in 2014.
The Lord Nelson, named after Britain's most famous disabled sailor, will sail from Southampton on Trafalgar Day on the first leg to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Special features on board the ship include wheelchair lifts between deck levels, a talking compass and a professional crew trained in the techniques of enabling people of all physical and sensory abilities to join in such activities as setting sails, navigating, steering the ship and keeping night watches.
Other stopovers during the journey will Cape Town, Kochi, Singapore, Sydney (where the ship will take part in the centenary celebrations of the Royal Australian Navy), Auckland and Ushuaia.
The ship will also visit Antarctica and travel around Cape Horn.
One of those taking part is 69-year-old Beryl Jones, a retired disability adviser from Anglesey, Wales, who has multiple sclerosis.
She said: ''My grandfather was a sea captain who sailed the world and I guess at this late stage in my life I am following in his footsteps.
''This sail will provide adventure, involving almost every activity on board.
''Scrubbing the deck and potatoes, washing dishes, setting the sails, keeping watch and peering from the crow's nest - a thrill of a lifetime. I am looking forward to the whole experience.''
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