At the grand old age of 95, Daphne Hinton says there’s nothing to beat the wind in the face and the taste of the sea.
And that’s what sprightly Daphne has just done – even taking over the helm of the sailing ship Tenacious, all 586 tons of it.
Her energy and stamina even impressed the crew – they were astounded when on return to ship one day she bounded up a steep gangplank which was brought up by the rising sea.
The tall ship is 213 feet long, has three masts, 13,000 square feet of sails and is designed to accommodate anyone aged over 16 with a disability.
Despite being partially blind Daphne quickly found her sea legs again during the five-day voyage from Southampton, including the Isle of Wight and Poole Harbour.
Daphne said: “I find the rhythm of the sea suits me – it’s doing something physical.
“I swim and bowl and doing sailing is an extra thing to do .
“A lot of people when they get older are not so active or maybe a bit afraid of the sea, but I would encourage more to try it.
“I think I was the oldest lady on the ship but some of the others were in their 70s and 80s. I would encourage more elderly people to take part.”
But Daphne, a former accountant who retired aged 82, and who lives in Garden Court, Warwick, said people can’t just sit back on a tall ship.
“You have to be prepared to help out and join in. You must not be too much of a passenger – it’s not like a cruise.”
While Daphne was on the Tenacious she said there were 32 “holiday crew”, such as herself, where half could have sensory or physical disabilities, and 12 permanent crew.
One of the highlights of the trip was taking over the helm of the Tenacious, with the help of a crew member and an electronic voice to guide her course.
“That was incredible – I actually got on the helm, even though I’m partially blind.
“I was on the helm for half an hour,” and jokingly added: “So no time to sail it onto the rocks or the Needles.
“The feel of the wind and sea on the face is invigorating.”
She’s now getting used to being a landlubber again but said she misses the ship routine included pulling on the ropes to operate the sails.
This is the third time she’s taken to seas on a tall ship but now wonders if it’s time to put anchor down permanently.
“The crew asked me if I’ll do it again –I will have to see. I think I’m getting a bit past it now.
“But when they send me the details – I think I can do it again.
“I think my daughter Sarah thinks I’m mad, but I think she had faith that I could do it.”
Daphne, who used to live in Barwell Close, Leamington, and ran an arts and craft shop in Warwick, was also treasurer of the Warwicshire Symphony Orchestra. She celebrates her 96th birthday on Halloween.
The STS Tenacious is run by the Jubilee Sailing Trust. Phone 02380 449108. www.jst.org.uk