Tenacious passes into receivership

The Jubilee Sailing Trust (Tenacious) Limited JST(T)L, the company that owns and operates the tall ship S.V. Tenacious, has closed.

Tenacious and all assets owned by JST(T)L will pass into the hands of the Official Receiver, appointed by the court. All staff (ship and shore) are employed by the JST(T)L company and as such will no longer be in post,’ says a shocking statement on the organisation’s website. It says ‘phones, website, social media and emails will no longer be monitored’.

In the meantime, JST charity, a separate entity to JST(T)L, will be reviewed by the Charity Commission as to whether it will be able to continue.

The organisation has been facing financial difficulty for many years due to the high costs associated with running two tall ships and trying to reach new communities. It’s no secret that the last four years have seen two large-scale funding appeals, refinancing, several restructures, and a reduction in fleet size to one ship – and of course a pandemic.

In August 2022, Jubilee Sailing Trust Ltd was forced into administration after one of the charity’s principal creditors threatened imminent legal proceedings to reclaim owed credit (the arrangement of the charity’s trusts is unpicked in this article).

JST held an online auction in June 2022 after it’d let troubled donors withdraw donations the month before. But even before that, as reported in MIN, there were questions being asked about what really happened in JST’s June 2019 £1million appeal.

“JST has been struggling with this very expensive ship since Tenacious was built, and has never been able to free itself of the legacy of costs of this unique vessel,” says Peter Cardy (career charity analyst, and volunteer watch leader with JST for over ten years). “It was a great sadness when Lord Nelson was laid up, as the first ship purpose-built to enable disabled and able-bodied people to sail on equal terms. With Tenacious also out of action, a special strand of opportunity unravels.

“However, JST blazed a trail that others have followed. Several of the UK sail training organisations (eg Ocean Youth Trust South) now offer opportunities for people with disabilities and other needs to enjoy the benefits of freedom and personal development through sailing more conventional vessels.”

JST(T)L says its employed much internal and external consultation as it tried different funding models. Most of those were heavily reliant on fundraising, or, trying to attract partners willing to pay full price to charter the ship.

‘For the last 15 months we tried a funding strategy that was more reliant on income from our voyage crew paying for 75-80 per cent of the cost of a voyage (or using bursary funding secured for this purpose),” says the statement.

‘Unfortunately neither our voyage sales nor our fundraising efforts have been successful in meeting the circa £150k/month required to operate Tenacious and keep her legally compliant to deliver our voyages, nor to repay the historic debt (circa £477k) accumulated prior to the September 2022 change in strategy.

‘Whilst we have been investigating several options to change our situation, including loans and alternative business plans, we recently learned we were also unsuccessful in being able to raise the full amount required to put Tenacious through her regulatory dry docking in time to deliver our planned Atlantic crossing.

‘If we were to attempt to re-start the programme in the Caribbean, sailing as a ‘delivery voyage’ (without voyage crew having paid to sail and meet the voyage costs) to the Caribbean would incur significant new expenditure that we would not be able to meet with the rest of the winter voyage programme. This means there is no viable way to fulfil our Caribbean voyages, and as such all voyages up to April 2024 needed to be cancelled.

‘Without the funds from the balance payments for those winter voyages (of which almost £100k would be due now), and knowing we would be unable to refund the voyage crew whose voyages have been cancelled, we initiated emergency talks with our board, financial and legal advisors, and other key persons with long-term connections to the JST history.

‘Unfortunately as we are now without identified income to meet our imminent expenditure in December (including the wages of our crew and shore-based team) we no longer have the time to pursue other financing options, nor a public fundraising appeal, and our legal advisors view closure as the only option available.’

The organisation says that an email has been sent to everyone who booked onto a voyage to assist them with claiming their voyage fee from their insurance.

In the meantime, JST charity, a separate entity to the JST(T)L company, will be reviewed by the Charity Commission. The charity’s Deed of Trust does not restrict operations to only include tall ships, which may mean the charity could operate in a different manner in the future. This decision has yet to be made by the Charity Commission, a timeframe for this decision has not been made public.

‘Although this situation is immensely upsetting for all involved, we hope that you can be proud of all that you, our supporters, have helped to achieve with both Lord Nelson and Tenacious since their launch. Without you sailing as voyage crew, volunteering on shore or onboard, and helping raise funds and awareness of what can be achieved in an enabling and accessible environment, we would not have been able to work directly with 56,728 disabled and non-disabled people during this time,’ the statement continues.

‘You have helped take two amazing, unique tall ships and their crews around the world (twice). You brought our mission to every continent, including Antarctica, and provided everyone who has been part of these adventures with memories of a lifetime. You have helped shape corporate and social responsibility programmes for companies of varying sizes and industries. You brought our mission ashore and have made a profound difference to the lives of people of all abilities, ages, backgrounds and circumstances in your schools, offices, and personal networks.

‘From all at JST, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being a part of this amazing journey.’

Main image courtesy of Sail Training International. Article updated 15 Dec 2023 to include reflection from Peter Cardy, previous watch leader with JST.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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