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Tall Ships Youth Trust Challenger Fleet in West India Dock

In the past few weeks, we have a number of training ships in West India Dock and we welcome more training yachts but with a difference. The Tall Ships Challenger Fleet consists of four yachts were built-in 2000 and designed to race around the world.

The 72ft yachts in the Challenger fleet are operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust. The charity, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007, also operates the brig Stavros S Niarchos which has often visited West India Dock.



The Challengers can each accommodate a crew of up to 18 and due to their background in the Round the World Challenge races are modern, safe, purpose-built yachts, perfect for sail training and coastal adventures.

The Challengers can take up to a maximum of 18 crew which often consists of Skipper, Mate, 2 Watch Leaders, 2 Watch Assistants, Youth Mentor and 12 trainee Voyage Crew.

These type of training ships are very different from the large tall ships that are often used but offer a very different experience. The Tall Ships Youth Trust offer young people, from all walks of life, unique physically and mentally challenging experiences at sea which aim to develop their long-term life skills including team working, confidence and problem solving skills.


Tall Ship Tenacious in West India Dock



After the visit from the Lord Nelson, we have the delight of a visit from her sister ship STS Tenacious. The Tenacious is a wooden sail training ship which was specially designed to be able to accommodate disabled sailors. Launched in Southampton in the year 2000, it is one of the largest wooden tall ships in the world. It is 65 metres long with a beam of 10.6 metres at its widest point.

Photo – Eric Pemberton

The Tenacious and the Lord Nelson  are owned by the UK-based charity the Jubilee Sailing Trust who have for many years have pioneered sailing for the disabled. The Jubilee Sailing Trust became a registered charity in 1978 and was the brainchild of Christopher Rudd, a school teacher and sailor who wanted to give the disabled children he taught the same experiences his able-bodied students had.

Photo – Eric Pemberton

Since its launch Tenacious has taken nearly 12,000 people sailing of these 3,000 were physically disabled and 1,000 were wheelchair users.


With the Totally Thames festival in full swing, there are plenty of interest on and near the river, St Katherine’s Dock has a number of historic boats in the dock including the Havengore and Gloriana.


Photo – Eric Pemberton

Many thanks to Eric Pemberton for the photographs of the Tenacious coming into West India Dock.




The Lord Nelson in West India Dock

After being away for a couple of weeks exploring the far north of Europe, it is nice to return and see the familiar masts of the STS Lord Nelson in West India Dock. By a strange coincidence I had a conversation while I was away with someone who had worked on the Lord Nelson for some years. As they say it is a small world.

The Lord Nelson was the first tall ship that was purpose-built with the aim of integrating disabled with able-bodied people. The ship was the fulfilment of the vision of JST’s founder, Christopher Rudd who believed that physically disabled people should be able to sail alongside able-bodied people as part of the crew.

The Lord Nelson sailed on her maiden voyage in 1986, Since that voyage, the STS Lord Nelson has sailed 461,943 Nautical Miles and taken nearly 29,000 people to sea. Of these, 10,500 people were physically disabled and more than 3,500 were wheelchair users.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the ship is that Lord Nelson’s has many facilities for disabled crew including flat wide decks, powered lifts, speaking compass, Braille signage and bright track radar for visually impaired crew members.

However, the whole purpose of these facilities is to enable the disabled crew to work side by side with the able-bodied crew.

Between 2012 and 2014, the Lord Nelson undertook its greatest challenge by completing a voyage around the world visiting 7 continents and 30 countries. Whilst in Australia and New Zealand she raced in tall ships races and also carried out an Antarctic Expedition.

The Lord Nelson and her sister ship, the Tenacious are regular visitors to West India Dock and both ships are a wonderful reminder of what can be achieved by fulfilling a vision of providing opportunities to people with a wide range of abilities.

WindQuest Catamaran in West India Dock

After the arrival of the new bridge, we have another unusual arrival in the shape of  85 foot Super yacht catamaran WindQuest.


Built by French yacht builders JFA  in 2014 , this is the first of  a semi-custom “Long Island” series. The hulls are aluminum-built while the deck is in composite material. WindQuest has three staterooms and an office.  In total, eight guests and six crew can be accommodated.

This ship actually visited West India Dock in 2014 as part of her maiden voyage.



Although we have plenty of Super yachts that visit West India Dock, however catamaran’s Super yachts of this size are unusual.


There seems to some confusion because the Port of London lists the ship as Christine but the boat still has Windquest logo whether this just a mistake or the yacht has been sold is not known.

Hebo’s Catharina 11 in West India Dock

Although we highlight the superyachts and other interesting vessels that visit West India Dock, there are other vessels that visit the dock that are more low key and more likely to be working vessels.

One of these vessels is the Catharina 11 tug that now lies in berth in the dock next to a large pontoon with a steel platform perched on top.

Catharina 11 is owned by HEBO Maritiemservice which is based in Rotterdam and was used to pull the large pontoon from Belgium. The steel platform looks like a piece of a bridge for the Canary Wharf site.

The steel platform was constructed by Victor Buyck in Belgium. The work in Canary Wharf is one of the largest building projects in Europe and has involved a number of construction challenges due to it proximity to the dock.

However this is one case when bringing the parts of the construction by water has been beneficial. If you are visiting Canary Wharf it is well worth watching some of the construction to get some idea of the enormous scale of the project.



Tall Ship Atyla in West India Dock

After a few super yachts, it is nice to welcome a tall ship into West India Dock, the tall ship is the Atyla which is a Spanish based and used for educational and training purposes. Like a number of training ships, the Atyla is run by a non-for-profit organisation which creates exciting and challenging experiences for people from a variety of backgrounds.

During the summer season Atyla sails on voyages of 1 to 4 weeks with a crew is composed of: 4 professional Crew members, 1 Educational Coach, 3 Watch Leaders and 16 Trainees.

During the winter, the ship normally stays at her homeport, the Maritime Museum of Bilbao, where her crew runs local educational activities and carry out essential maintenance works.

Atyla was built in Spain between 1979 and 1984 and was intended to try to circumnavigate the earth following the Magellan-El Cano route, she finally stayed in the Canary Islands doing day trips. In 2005 the government of the region of Cantabria (Spain) hired the ship for promotional services before it began to be used for educational purposes.

The ship has a length of 31 metres with a beam of 7 metres and last year travelled to  Portugal, Bermuda, USA, Canada and France.

It is believed that the ship will be in dock for number of days and will be open to public for some of the days.

Superyacht Reef Chief in West India Dock

It would seem that Superyacht season is in full swing with the arrival of the Reef Chief in West India Dock.

Reef Chief is a 49.07m, 160.76ft  luxury yacht which was built in United States of America by Trinity Yachts and delivered in 2009

The  yacht was previously named Anjilis and her luxurious interior is designed by Glade Johnson Design and her exterior styling is by Geoff Van Aller.

The yacht has a aluminium hull superstructure with an ultra-modern stabilization system.

Reef Chief can accommodate 11 guests in 5 rooms and can carry up to 9 crew onboard.

Various reports suggest the yacht has been sold recently, but as usual it is very difficult to find out who actually owns the vessel.

It is nice to see a few ships beginning to visit the dock despite the development all around the dock.