Brian Murphy is 29 and attends Enable Ireland adult services in Sandyford. In June of this year, Brian spent five days sailing from Cardiff to Southampton on a wooden tall ship called Tenacious and operated by the Jubilee Sailing Trust. The ship had a crew of 50 people, of differing abilities, including four wheelchair users, like Brian. The Tenacious is one of only a small number of vessels of their type in the world designed and built to be fully accessible for people with disabilities or impairments (including wheelchair users).
“Onboard, everyone is part of the crew. I was expected to do my bit in the day-to-day running of the ship, just like the rest of the crew. I had to put in my shift at the helm of the ship, set the sails, navigate, and help out in the kitchen preparing meals and tidying up. Every day we had different tasks to do. There was a bar on the ship but we were all too exhausted at the end of the day to have a drink! I just wanted to go to bed and get some rest for the next day.
We had some really rough weather for the first two days. One of those days we were on night watch and had to go out on deck at 4 in the morning. We opened the door to go up on deck and the wind and the rain hit us immediately. At one point I was blown across the deck of the ship but thankfully the rails stopped me from going overboard!
I like to keep fit. I go to the gym twice a week. I swim once a week and I also practice Jiu-jitsu and have a blue belt in this Brazilian martial art. I really needed that physical and mental fitness for some of the tasks onboard the Tenacious. I learnt lots of new skills over the five days. It was a completely new experience for me as I had never been sailing before.
On my last day, I hoisted myself up to the crow’s nest using a hand hoist. The crew strapped me into a harness and I pull myself up. It took me 25 minutes to do it and I was determined to make it. It was an amazing feeling to get to the crow’s nest. I earned a big cheer from the rest of the crew on board!
When I got the opportunity to go on this trip, I didn’t hesitate to say yes to it. I had never sailed before but I had no fear doing it. My advice is don’t overthink stuff. Just try it. I’d encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and take a risk. Do something different. Opportunities to do something new like this don’t come around every day. If I get the chance to do another challenge like this, I would definitely take it up.”
Brian was accompanied on his trip by Sean Hall, an Enable Ireland Personal Assistant (PA). The role of PA in Enable Ireland is to facilitate the person with a disability in all aspects of daily living including assisting in mobility, supporting them to access Enable Ireland services or other services in their community. Having Sean’s support as a PA enabled Brian to complete his five-day voyage.
“It was an amazing trip and I was delighted to be able to support Brian along the way. Brian doesn’t like to think of himself as inspiring but he really was an inspiration to everyone else on that trip. Among the crew were young recruits from the Welsh Police Force and they were bowled over with Brian’s determination. He was so impressive reaching the top of the crow’s nest. I’m not a fan of heights but after Brian went up, I had to do it as well. Turns out Brian has much better sea legs than me – I was the one who ended up getting seasick in the rough seas! It was a unique adventure for us all and everyone on the ship went away with a new perspective on disability and inclusion.”