Disabled sailor has urgent care on Tristan da Cunha

A disabled young sailor has been receiving medical care on Tristan da Cunha after being taken ill aboard a sail training ship.

Sail Training Ship Lord Nelson (picture: Jubilee Sailing Trust)

Sail Training Ship Lord Nelson (picture: Jubilee Sailing Trust)

Islander Andy Repetto received a call from coastguards in Cape Town on the evening of 21 January 2013 to say the Lord Nelson crew member needing urgent treatment.

The square-rigger changed course and two days later, police officer Conrad Glass and three others took a launch and intercepted the ship 17 miles off shore, because of concerns about lack of wind delaying arrival at the island.

They took off the 21-year-old patient and the ship’s medical purser and transported him to the settlement.

The ship reached the island in late evening to take the purser back on board and continued its round-the-world voyage, which will eventually take it to St Helena and Ascension.

The sick sailor, who is British, is now being treated for a pre-existing condition.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust, which operates the 55-metre ship, said the decision to put him ashore was taken on advice from its medical advisers and an operations team in Southampton, in the UK.

Chief executive Alex Lochrane said: “The Jubilee Sailing Trust has carried out numerous medical evacuations at sea over the last 26 years and it is something that our experienced team, both on board our ships and in our operations team ashore, take in their stride.

The Lord Nelson is specially built for disabled sailors (picture: Jubilee Sailing Trust)

The Lord Nelson is specially built for disabled sailors (picture: Jubilee Sailing Trust)

“The fact that the team carried out the operation in such a smooth and seamless fashion, despite the remote location, is testament to their professionalism, and I’d like to extend our thanks to the authorities in Tristan da Cunha.

“We’d like to wish the young man involved a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back to the ship at a future date.”

The STS Lord Nelson was built specially to accommodate able-bodied and disabled sailors, with features such as lifts between decks, signs in braille, power-assisted “joystick” steering, and fixing points to secure wheelchairs in rough weather.

It was named after “Britain’s most famous disabled sailor” – who led the British fleet at Trafalgar despite having lost an arm and an eye.

The ship was on the second leg of a 50,000-mile voyage round the world when it diverted to Tristan da Cunha – having previously cancelled a planned visit because of bunkering delays in Rio de Janeiro.

It will call at India, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina before continuing to Tristan, St Helena and Ascension in April 2014, and then on to Brazil, Canada and the UK.

LINKS:
Lord Nelson’s world voyage
Tristan da Cunha medical news (includes pictures)

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