WHEN tall ship the Lord Nelson sailed into Whitby harbour it was a local lass that was at the helm.
Crowds lined the piers and quay side to wave as it sailed through the swing bridge to its moorings on Endeavour Wharf and it was flanked by series of smaller boats that turned out to accompany it ashore.
Laura McLachlan (17) from Hinderwell, under the careful guidance and instruction of the captain and harbour pilot, steered the ship from the mile buoy out at sea through the harbour to the mooring.
Laura attends Whitby Community College and is a member of the Whitby Yacht Club.
This year’s adventure came as an early 18th birthday present and she boarded the Lord Nelson at Hartlepool with dad Martin, a sergeant at Whitby police station.
They sailed between Scarborough and Blyth before making a grand entrance into Whitby on Thursday 19 August.
Laura said: “Sailing such a big boat into my home town of Whitby was just amazing, and seeing all the people who turned out. Its something I will never forget. It was a great experience”.
After the Lord Nelson voyage Laura discovered she had been selected by the Jubilee Sailing Trust to join the crew as a Bosun’s Mate on future voyages with the trusts two ships - Lord Nelson and Tenacious.
The two boats accommodate a mixed crew of able bodied people and people with disabilities but it’s no leisure cruise for any passenger.
Laura added: “As crew you are encouraged to take as active a part as you are able to in the full routine of the ship and that includes night watches, mess duties, helming and sail setting. Everyone has to work as a team. Off shore near Robin Hoods Bay I climbed the mast and climbed out onto the yards over the sea to help stow away the sails. In port in Whitby those in wheelchairs who had missed out on the fun of climbing the mast, were pulled up the mast on ropes if they wanted so that they too could experience the thrill of going up there.”
Her dad added: “We have both so much enjoyed the voyage, and I am so proud of what she has just achieved”.