History of JDL

The historic vessel Jean de la Lune (JDL) was built in 1957 in Brittany. She was initially designed as one of the last French wooden Sailing Fishing Vessels without an engine, in Lorient and worked out of Douarnenez. She is constructed out of oak planks on an oak frame, and her graceful fine lines reflect those of a traditional French sailing vessel. JDL was originally designed for sail and subsequently she was fitted with an engine as motors generally displaced sails in response to the economic demands of the commercial environment.

When her career as a fishing vessel ended in the mid 1970s, she was sold and converted by her new owners once again into a sailing vessel. The JDL was then taken to Colchester where her owners spent eight years stripping her down to the bare hull and rebuilding her as a Brigantine with accommodation for 4 crew and 12 guests in 7 well appointed cabins.

In 1983 JDL started work as a charter vessel, primarily taking scuba divers around the Scottish Western Isles and becoming a familiar sight around the coast of St Kilda in particular. The winter of 1985 saw her depart for the Caribbean and the following year undertake a three month spell with Operation Raleigh.

Today JDL is once again registered as a Sail Training Ship members of Sail Training International and all cruises advertised in the schedule section adhere to the strict rules defined by the MCA:
Sail training vessel means a sailing vessel which, at the time, is being used either:
a) to provide instruction in the principles of responsibility, resourcefulness, loyalty and team endeavour and to advance education in the art of seamanship; or
b) to provide instruction in navigation and seamanship for yachtsmen;

JDL takes on board adults and children of all ages. Everybody is welcome! JDL is a sail training vessel and this means that all persons on board are assigned to watches and participate in sail training programme. No previous sailing experience is needed and our professional and knowledgeable crew will provide all necessary training so you can just enjoy!

JDL is built to reflect the original lines of a traditional sailing vessel and fitted as a Brigantine so she is sleek, quick and manoeuvrable. Brigantines were the preferred type of a ship for all Pirates for their speed to make a quick escape.

The Refurbishment
When we met Jean de la Lune for the first time in Leith where she was berthed for over 12 long years she was in a sorry state. We instantly fell in love with her and decided to rescue her and bring her back to her former glory.

Some say that it is the ship who choses her owners – we felt it exactly this way. At the time we didn’t know anything about buying or maintaining a nearly 60-year-old wooden ship. After a year of going back and forth to Edinburgh with various people including surveyors, engineers, a designer and many more we managed to have her properly checked, surveyed, and taken out of the water for a good look over her hull and shaft. We also went up on the yards and had both masts checked. Not all was as we liked it and lots and lots had to be replaced immediately to ensure the safety of the vessel.

However the ship was calling us back and the story started to unfold. We were like newly-weds and more people started to get engaged in the process. Finally a date was set for 1st April 2014. A group of 8 volunteers arrived in Edinburgh, plus two children of 4 and 6, who after three weeks of urgent repairs and major cleaning job undertook the maiden voyage across the North Sea to Polish shipyard in Władysławowo where major repairs were to take place. All was to change. The ship was stripped to the bare timbers, sails were replaced with new light-weight sails and every last rope was changed to a new one delivered straight from Masters Ropemakers in Chatham on the Thames Estuary. We have already replaced all three yards, bowsprit, caulked the deck the traditional way with new hemp ropes and tar. The ship was also taken out of the water where the hull was repaired and covered with new antifouling solution. A new shade of Old Wine Red was chosen to cover the timbers above the water. All of the improvements remained true to the spirit of traditional wooden sailing vessel.

Whilst the majority of work has been already done there is still plenty left to do.  Today there is comfortable accommodation for 25 people on board in 11 cabins: 1 single, 7 double, 2 triple and one for four pople. JDL sails with 20 guests accommodated in the “hotel” section and there are separate quarters for up to 5 crew and a dog!

Sail Training Charity

Jean de la Lune works closely with the Sail Training Charity to help take families and young people to sea. We have designed a school programme taking young people of all ages to sea. www.schoolatsea.co.uk

Sail Training is a great fun outdoor adventure activity for people of all ages and abilities. Not only teaching about traditional seamanship, keeping the skills of our maritime heritage alive, but through the learning of these skills and the experience of being at sea, Sail Training helps people learn about themselves, discover hidden strengths and talents and understand the value of working as a team. By confronting the demanding challenges, both physical and emotional, Sail Training inspires self-confidence and personal responsibility whilst promoting an acceptance of others, whatever their social or cultural backgrounds.

The Sail Training Charity aims to reach out to communities to increase the awareness of Sail Training and the multitude of benefits it brings and to provide access for families and young people to participate in Sail Training through the provision of free or subsidised berths on board Sail Training Vessels such as Jean de la Lune.

In order to achieve these aims, the Sail Training Charity relies solely on the generosity of their supporters. If you would like to help us in our aim of taking young people to sea you can make a donation of any amount easily and securely.
The Sail Training Charity is registered with the Small Charities Coalition.