Skye’s Mavis sails first tall ship at 70

Mavis at sea

A 70-year-old from the Isle of Skye has caught the sailing bug after taking a tall ship voyage for the first time. 

Mavis Mackinnon boarded tall ship, SV Tenacious, belonging to global sailing charity, the Jubilee Sailing Trust, as part of the Greenock to Leith voyage last year. While onboard, Mavis learned to operate every part of the ship, from hoisting and lowering the sails to scrubbing the decks – even learning how to helm and steer the ship.  

Brave Mavis also grabbed the chance to climb the ship’s rigging – a height of around 38.3m from the deck.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust promotes a unique mission, to give people of mixed abilities and circumstances the freedom to explore their ability, potential and place in the world through inclusive adventures at sea.  

Alongwith her team – called a “Watch” – Mavis was also in charge of lookout for other vessels or shipping equipment which may affect the course of the ship.  

There were four Watches over a 24 hour period, each getting a chance to experience life onboard a tall ship. Watches are made up of people with mixed abilities, mostly first-timers like Mavis, but also those living with a disability.  

Mavis said: “I went on a voyage on Tenacious and it changed my whole outlook on life. It was the adventure of a lifetime. I was made to fee part of the team, sailing this magnificent ship, straight away, the permanent crew at our sides – and we couldn’t have done it without them. They guided us in all aspects of the running of the ship with care and kindness.  

“Watching everyone working together as a team really moved me. I wanted to let everyone know, whether disabled or non-disabled, if you’ve lost confidence in life or fearful of being with people, this is where you need to be. Part of the team on Tenacious. She was built especially for this purpose to give new life and to find out just how able you really are.

“I’ll never forget my voyage and the wonderful friends I made and so overwhelmed at how challenges were overcome. Thank you Tenacious and thank you to the magnificent permanent crew who led and guided us all the way.” 

Patrick Fleming, JST’s chief executive, said: “Tenacious is the only tall ship designed to be sailed by a mixed ability crew – allowing fellow voyage crew members to join in with the day-to-day activities on board.

“It’s great to hear stories from people like Mavis who’s lives have been truly touched by the experiences offered onboard.” 

The JST charity offers people of all abilities the opportunity to climb aboard their tall ship Tenacious for an immersive sailing experience and relies on funding from the public. Since its founding in 1978, the Jubilee Sailing Trust has welcomed more than 50,000 people on board. 

For more information about JST and its work, visit: