Volunteer and Disabled Sailing!

  • Able-bodied Volunteer
  • Sailing with a Disability

If you love the idea of sailing and would like to volunteer and make a difference in other’s lives …why not consider helping those with challenges such as disabilities.  

Or maybe you have a disability and would like to sail…you can!

There are different ways you can do this! 

There are organizations and boats around the world where you can take a ‘hands on’ approach in volunteering or sailing with disabilities.  

Here are a couple of ways!

Jubilee Sailing Trust Holidays:


1. Maintenance:  Two magnificent tall ships the Lord Nelson and Tenacious need to be maintained to a very high standard as they are designed for those with disabilities and you can volunteer to be involved. 

These 55ft ships are part of the Jubilee Sailing Trust. 

They need many different skills and they can find something for most people to do and they provide accommodation on board and all meals. 

That is one way, join a maintenance team! 


2. Sailing Holidays Buddy System:  You can go on a day sail to Jersey or several weeks’ long holidays to the Mediterranean, Caribbean and many other places worldwide

The Trust operates a buddy system which pairs able-bodied and physically disabled crew members together. 

The crews are involved in every part of running the ship from taking the wheel to the basic cleaning tasks. 

Considering the environment at sea no one has an advantage and it is empowering and rewarding for both ‘crew buddies.’

Challenge the Perception of Disability:


One of the best known organizations for disabled sailors is Sailability it gives confidence and a sense of freedom and achievement sailing small boats


If you dream of going a step further on a bigger boat like a sailing holiday to one of the world’s many exciting places. 

The Jubilee Sailing Trust does a world circumnavigation where you can do a portion of the voyage and both able bodied and those disabled can have an amazing experience together. 

Here are a couple of examples from their website but you can go on line and find a similar organization in your area.

Equipped for the Disabled:


Never think it’s beyond you!  You can do it!  

Both the Lord Nelson and Tenacious tall ships are well equipped for all manner of disability.

  • Wide decks for ease of movement
  • Lifts between deck levels
  • Power-assisted steering
  • Signage in braille
  • Guidance tracks, tactile stair strips and raised directional arrows on handrails

On their website it has all the details plus some of the crew tell of their experiences. 

Crew Experiences:

Blind:  A past crew member Ellen expresses, “My immediate thoughts were fear, I wasn’t scared of being blind, but the restrictions that came with it. Would I ever be as independent? Would I ever be equal to my able bodied peers?”

She added, “This trip, for me, confirmed that anything’s possible. The people I met reassured me that, despite barriers, there are always good decent people out there who will give me that equal chance. 

The voyage was so much more than a sailing trip; it’s given me hope in a time where I had been experiencing a lot of doubt. I cannot thank the Jubilee Sailing Trust enough for the experience.”

Wheelchair:  Andy had been one of three wheelchair users who chose to make an ‘assisted climb’. He went aloft – wheelchair and all – in a harness designed to be hoisted by his fellow crew members.

Andy, who grew up an active and sportive child, had not believed that climbing the rigging of a tall ship was within the range of his possible activities – until he came aboard.

Progressive MS has sapped his physical strength.

It’s Not All About Youth:


Stroke:  Then there ones like David Hind who dreamt of doing wonderful things in retirement but things didn’t go to plan ….or did they!  His story ….

‘Illness may strike at any time. But it doesn’t mean those dreams have to end – altered perhaps, but not forgotten.  Dave had always wanted to retire early and spend more time doing the thing he really loves – tall ship sailing.

He retired aged 62: then just 18 months later he woke up on Boxing Day morning, his face was sagging to one side, he could not move the right side of his body and worst of all he could not utter a word.

Dave had had a stroke during the night and hemiplegia set in. Suddenly he could no longer speak, read, write or drive.

Dave’s only frustration on his voyage was his inability to communicate, but his wife Wilma went along to interpret for him.

Also, because the Permanent Crew on the JST ships are used to working with people whatever their disability, he was still able to take part in and enjoy the amazing camaraderie that is such a feature of life on board.’ 

Become a volunteer and help others like him.

Experiences from War Veterans:


Our soldiers from Afghanistan and other conflicts find it a fantastic experience these are some of their comments. 

“It’s been great! Steering this magnificent ship is something I never thought I would be doing.”  This soldier found it a challenge after losing his lower limbs to a Taliban roadside bomb and now gets about on artificial legs. 

And another soldier who had suffered devastating wounds said, “Everyone is so friendly and nobody makes much of a thing about being disabled.”

So whether an able bodied volunteer who can be a crew buddy, or if you love the thought of sailing and adventure and have some form of disability, seriously consider this empowering way of holidaying.

Ahoy Sailing Charity:


Ahoy is another organization that focuses on young disadvantaged and disabled people and relies on the help of volunteers who can take on many roles. 

It is a charity recognized by RYA and offers Volunteers an opportunity to train for a career in sailing. 

Based in London it has a lot to offer both the newcomer and experienced sailor promoting teamwork and personal development.  

Volunteers are trained in child protection and equal opportunities as well as disability awareness.

So whether you want to volunteer or have a disability the world of sailing offers all who have a love of the sea and being at one with the elements an opportunity to experience the sense of freedom and challenge that we can all enjoy no matter what our circumstances!

     Disabled Sailor               Oldest Women Sailor        Solo Circumnavigators




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