Josh recently launched his v-log detailing his entire sailing trip to the Caribbean with the Jubilee Sailing Trust, the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and VMWare and of course with his ableSeat, manual wheelchair, Wheeable toilet chair and his Father. This blog depicts the highlights from Josh’s perspective during the trip.
On arrival at Gatwick South Terminal drop-off point, the staff were brilliant. They helped Josh and his father with all their luggage right through to check-in and into departure lounge.
When arriving at the gate to board, passenger had already started boarding, whilst Josh and 6 wheelchair users were yet to board. He will never forget Virgin allowing certain passengers to board, whilst a couple were sipping champagne at the aircraft door watching all of us waiting and of course boarding! Josh and the crew were given an apology by crew mid-flight.
At arrival in Antigua, the group were prompted with special assistance extremely quickly. However, the two gentlemen failed to turn up with an appropriate aisle chair. This is what was used to take 7 wheelchair users of the aircraft.
This is what should have been used.
After making it through Antigua airport, Josh was then faced with accessible transport to Falmouth harbour. It was a minibus with no ramps. All wheelchair users needed lifting or supporting into their seats. Whilst another minibus was used to transport the wheelchairs and luggage.
On arrival at the harbour, Josh and his father were greeted by the fabulous crew and a spot of rain, before making their way to the wonderful Tenacious. This is the way in which wheelies are to get on and off Tenacious when docked.
After inductions and signing in at Tenacious, there were a few days of onboard training, including emergency training.
Josh and his father were then shown their bunks, below are some photos of how Josh got onto his bed, including the Wheelable shower chair which Josh used during the trip and comes with its own case.
After completing all the inductions, training, and getting their bunks. A trip was organised to go and visit Shirley heights with all the wheelies and volunteers.
Then it was time to get sailing, after being introduced into our watches. The original plan was to head to Anguilla but due to some changes, the captain had decided that sailing to Barbuda was going to be the new route – which from Antigua is around an 8-hour sail.
The morning after arriving in Barbuda, it was time for Josh and his father to get ready to go ashore onto the Princess Diana beach. Initially josh wasn’t going to go ashore, but with the beach buggy and gentle encouragement by the crew Josh made it.
After a day and evening in Barbuda, it was time for the crew, Josh and his Father, to sail back to Antigua.
When they had arrived back in Antigua, all the wheelies got the opportunity to be winched up to the crow’s nest so to speak. On Tenacious, wheelies were winched to the first deck which is just above the Coarse beam. To see the footage watch the full v-log here. But this was the view when Josh got to the top.
After all the sailing it was time to dock back in at Falmouth harbour for our last evening in Antigua. The tradition on this voyage every year is to have a form of Pantomime – the theme this year was James Bond!
After packing up and saying their farewells to all the crew and the amazing volunteers, it was time for the wheelies group including Josh and his Father to head back to Antigua airport and head home.
On arrival at the airport, the group where hit with a 5 hour delay due to the storms going on in the UK. At the point of arriving Josh needed to sit on the toilet. Unfortunately, Antigua airport (VC Bird) does not have a changing places toilet, so Josh was to hold on to the toilet for what turned out to be 14 hours.
When going through Security at the airport, Josh was asked by Security if he could stand up out of his wheelchair for Security to check his cushion for Security. Obviously, Josh cannot stand and after 15 minutes of waiting as they checked with management and Josh was allowed through. Although Security did ensure all the other 6 wheelies got out of their wheelchair!
After waiting for the delay to pass, the group were allowed to board. To Josh’s amazement, again there was no aisle chair to board the wheelies and they ended up having to use the tiny onboard toilet chair again – absolutely disgraceful!
Upon arrival back in the UK the group were then faced with a 40-minute wait before being able to disembark the aircraft. The group were originally told they would have to go to the baggage claims area to collect their wheelchairs, this was due to the high winds causing a problem for a lift that is usually used to bring the chairs straight to the door, but after waiting and resisting, the wheelchairs finally arrived at the aircraft door 40 minutes later.
Josh and his father finally made it hope from a trip of lifetime with huge ups and downs but my gosh was it an eye opener for a world that has endless possibilities, set only by one’s imagination.
To learn more about:
ableSeat – visit here
Jubilee Sailing Trust – visit here
Stelios Philanthropic Foundation – visit here