Injured sailors and marines fight back to fitness with week sailing yacht

Topic: CommunityLifestyle

A group of wounded, injured and sick submariners and Royal Marines, put to sea for a five-day sailing course to help with their recuperation and rehabilitation.

The week introduced the group to sailing the beautifully-restored former junk/yacht, Boleh.

None of the submariners or commandos had tried ‘real’ sailing before, but all the crew gained considerable experience over the week – including an overnight stay on the boat while moored in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

The Boleh was originally designed and built in Singapore by Robin Kilroy in 1948 and sailed to England in 1950.

After a full-scale restoration at Portsmouth in 2008, she returned to the water in 2015 as a fully-operational sail training vessel, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and many corporate and individual donors.

Today the restored Boleh, with her unique design and heritage, provides an inspirational sailing experience for those facing challenge in their lives, whether young or old.

Boleh means ‘can do’ in Malay and it is this ‘can do’ philosophy which has driven the Boleh Trust, first to restore Boleh and now to put her back to work, restoring self-confidence, developing teamwork and rebuilding lives.

Royal Marines Colour Sergeant Jonny Morris from Faslane Personnel Support Group said: “The week was a resounding success – everyone got so much from their time on board Boleh. They really bonded as a team, shared stories and experiences.

“I saw their confidence grow as the course progressed, all of them reported a very positive experience, and we are really grateful to the Boleh Trust, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and the NAAFI for funding and their support with this venture.’

His comments were echoed by Commodore Jeremy Bailey, HM Naval Base Commander (Portsmouth), who spent a morning on board Boleh, sailing with group.

‘It was fantastic to join the ship for a forenoon and learn so much about both the impressive work of the Boleh Trust and how the Personnel Support Groups deliver an active programme for recovery of our most important assets – our people. 

“I was delighted to hear how, with sponsorship from NAAFI and RNRMC, the week with the Boleh Trust had delivered such a positive impact to this, and many other courses.”

Chief Petty Officer Angie Cheal, the Royal Navy’s Recovery Manager in Devonport, organised the week, and with further support from the RNRMC hopes to run two more additional courses this autumn.