In January this year the Jubilee Sailing Trust and Royal Papworth Hospital’s remarkable patient Tineke Dixon took to the seas to sail 5200 nautical miles on a tall ship around Cape Horn.

50 people set off from Auckland, New Zealand on a voyage of a lifetime aboard Tenacious, a 65m barque equipped to take disabled and able-bodied crew around the world.

“So why was I there?” asks Tineke in her compelling commentary about the voyage. “2018 marks the 30th anniversary of my heart and lungs transplants and the 20th anniversary of my kidney transplant.  I am one of the longest surviving heart and lungs transplants in the world and what is more life affirming than undertaking another enormous challenge?”

 “The plan was to leave Auckland, visit Napier on the east coast of New Zealand then off to Chatham Islands, a rarely visited community, dependent of New Zealand before pushing on East to Cape Horn and, doubling the Horn, finishing in Stanley in the Falkland Islands.”  But with technical difficulties prior to the start of the trip, Tineke explains “The compromise was to the itinerary. It was now a non-stop to Falkland, to try and make up time on what was already a tight schedule.”

“Tenacious is designed for disabled crew as well as able-bodied” writes Tineke.  “The voyage crew included people with all kinds of disabilities.  Not quite the high proportions that shorter, less remote voyages take, but there was one wheelchair user, a blind man, other serious illnesses such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy and cancer recoverers”.

Describing the challenges of her incredible voyage, she continues “As East Cape in New Zealand slipped out of sight we headed into the open ocean.  From here on, we didn’t see another ship, plane or any other kind of human activity for over 30 days. There was great excitement to be at sea at last, but after the third day the first big weather met us.  Running before a gale force 8, the swell was immense and life on board suddenly got harder. The motion of the ship was fatiguing as everything seemed to be on the move, sleeping became difficult as you were not able to stop yourself rolling even in the bunk unless chocked with duvets and pillows. Dinner, if you could keep a hold on it, was a dangerous business, but we decided it had to be funny or we’d be crying!

One of the things that was great fun was keeping a log of the wildlife, the dolphins in particular were gregarious and sometimes followed us for several hours.  On what was a pretty monotonous view mid ocean the wildlife were a welcome sight.

After 33 days at sea we saw land for the first time, the high mountains of Patagonia and southern Chilean coast.  The whole crew stood on deck to marvel at the beauty of the new land, sun shining of the snow caps.  The Captain announced we arrived at 3pm on the 21st February and a great round of applause and hugs of congratulation and hundreds of photos!

Thereafter, it was a battle against the northerly breeze to the Falkland Islands.  Another 2 days of close companionship and lifelong friends.  A sudden urgency to ensure we had enough pictures and contact details so that we could stay in touch afterwards.  An unforgettable experience shared and memories made.”

If you enjoyed reading about Tineke’s voyage, please help her with her fundraising for Royal Papworth Hospital Charity by visiting her JustGiving page

To read Tineke's full publication on her trip please click here