Bertha forces tall ship Lord Nelson to berth in Louisbourg

Published on August 7, 2014

LOUISBOURG — There were no tall ships scheduled to visit Cape Breton this summer — until now.

The Lord Nelson, specially designed for people with all types of disabilities, made an unexpected stop in Louisbourg on Wednesday to wait out tropical storm Bertha.

Capt. Barbara Campbell said she made the call to abandon the 55-metre-long tall ship’s original destination of St-Pierre-Miquelon due to bad weather.

“The forecast was not very good with the storm coming and it called for thick fog so we asked if there was any availability for us to berth here and there was,” said Campbell. “We’re pleased to be here — Louisbourg has been very kind to us.”

Loydette MacDonald, manager of the Louisbourg Harbour Authority, said the Lord Nelson’s arrival forced officials to find a berth for the ship.

"The Louisbourg harbour is pretty busy with the tug boats, barges and stuff trucking the rock out to the MV Miner for the cleanup, " she said.  "We had to rearrange a few boats so she'd have a spot to come in."

The Lord Nelson was to spend two nights in Louisbourg before returning to Halifax on Friday.

Based in Southampton, England, the tall ship is literally the flagship of the United Kingdom’s charitable Jubilee Sailing Trust, which promotes the integration of people of all physical abilities through challenge and adventure on the open sea

Ruben Webb, a 17-year-old with cerebral palsy from northern California, is on the ship with his mother Victoria Mays-Webb and stepfather John.

“We really wanted to take Ruben on a tall ship and we jumped at the opportunity to come on the Lord Nelson,” said Mays-Webb.

Dressed entirely in pink, including her rubber boots, Monica Beer, of England, said she was thrilled with the unexpected stop.

“I’m really looking forward to getting out and about tomorrow and exploring,” said Beer, who helped haul down the gangway for disembarkation.

Robust senior Grainne Arntz said she was also happy about the opportunity to take advantage of the altered itinary.

“Cape Breton reminds me a lot of the west coast of Ireland, it’s very rugged and very scenic,” said Arntz.

Hazel Wilce, of England, said while she loved the scenery she was content to stay aboard the tall ship.

"Oh, I won't be going ashore, but it is very kind of everybody here to have us, everybody is very friendly," said Wilce.

Not all of the 46 passengers and crew are strangers to Cape Breton.

The ship’s physician, Dr. John Logan of England, set foot on the island for the first time since he began his medical practice 40 years ago in Sydney.

“This has always been a dream of mine and to do it as the ship’s doctor is really great,” said the 67-year-old, who boarded the Lord Nelson eight weeks ago in Brazil.

Logan explained that when he finished his residency he found three jobs in Canada listed in the British Medical Journal.

“One was in Newfoundland, one was in Yellowknife and one was in Sydney,” he said. “I knew Yellowknife would be cold so I looked at the map and chose Sydney.”

Logan spent 18 months in Sydney working with the late Dr. Abe Gaum.

For more information on the tall ship, visit the Jubilee Sailing Trust website:

About the Boat

• The Lord Nelson, named for the famous Admiral Horatio Nelson, was built in  Southampton, England, and was launched in 1986.

• Construction took more than two years to custom fit the ship to be functional and practical for people of all physical abilities.

• It is 55-metres long including the bow sprit, has three masts and is squre rigged on the front two masts.

• The sail training ship has been sailed by more than 11,000 people.

• The ship was specially designed to suit people of mixed ability and ages. Most of the crew are active in sailing the ship.

•  The Lord Nelson's current crew includes four full-time wheelchair users, nine others with physical disabilities and four sailors over the age of 70 years.

•  It is the flagship of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a registered charity with a mission to promote the integration of people of all physical abilities through the challenge and adventure of sailing tall ships on the open sea. and