Wheelchair Accessible Yachts, Suitable Dinghies and other Equipment of Interest to Disabled Sailing

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Report by wheelchair user Mike Wood, who has a spinal injury at C6/7, paralysed from chest down with partial use of hands, good triceps and biceps and some lats. Dinghy sailing since 1988 and yacht sailing since 1995 Mike designs, modifies and builds yachts and dinghies for disabled people and has a sailing program that provides over 2000 sailing places a year for disabled people.

Email....       mikewood@disabledsailing.org

QUOTE FROM WEBSITE.......Sailing around the world can only be a dream for the vast majority of people but for those who are seriously disabled it must surely be an 'Impossible Dream'. This revolutionary boat can make this impossible dream come true. Wheelchair bound people have few opportunities for real adventure. However, sailing a boat to remote and exciting places is one such possibility.

WEBSITE - www.lospiritodistella.it//

My judgment is that this is a good example of adapting an existing design of yacht to make much of it accessible to wheelchair users.

8/10 - As a boat for all types of disabilities - its very spacious but still has things close enough to give you hand holds/support for confidence moving around when sailing.

7/10 - As a boat for experienced disabled sailors - it is good boat but not being able to reach all the controls will put off some experienced sailors.

7/10 - As a training boat - not being able to reach all the controls will put off many sailors.

7/10 - Ease of rigging - not being able to reach all the controls will put off many sailors.

8/10 - Ease of use (live on) - most disabilities could live on the yacht in great comfort.

7/10 - Controls - the control that most disabled people could reach are easy to use, some disabilities may not reach all controls.

9/10 - Quality of fittings and build - very good quality moulding's and fittings.

9/10 - Getting in and out - very easy for almost everyone.

9/10 - Sailing qualities - its a big heavy stable boat but sails quite well.

8/10 - Assistance required - if you can get around by unaided normally you will only need assistance from dock to boat.


MY OPINION.......Built by the very respected Mattia on Lake Como for Andrea Stella and his father who decided to modify an existing design to make it wheelchair accessible. Their plan was to build a yacht that would be available for disabled people to charter and sail and they succeeded very well.

Andrea and his family have a very successful business in Italy and the yacht was funded by themselves and sponsored by a number of Italian companies.

I was able to visit the yacht a number of times during construction and was impressed at every stage. The molding's were done in Milan and then transported to Lake Como. Enrico Contreas the designer of the Mattia 56 personally managed the fitting out at his Lake Como factory and then it was motored - carried by truck and them motored again to Venice where it was officially launched.

They tried a number of novel ideas to aid boarding by wheelchair users but eventually opted or a very simple and effective cut-out and 2 sizes of ramp that seems too cope with all eventualities.

The modifications for wheelchair use have been very cleverly incorporated and if anything make this very spacious yacht even more comfortable.

Getting on and off looks a little precarious but in fact its very easy and safe. There is plenty of room on the rear deck and you can get to the controls and helm. The view from the rear steering position is hampered by the saloon but with duplicate controls each side it does not spoil anything.

A shallow ramp leads to the saloon which is very very nice, the galley is a little high for a wheelchair user but the fridge freezer is enormous so you can get to the beer and wine easily.

The two rear cabins are wheelchair accessible and reached by beautifully designed and constructed electric lifts and the cabins and en-suites are huge and very comfortable.

There are two more cabins with en-suites that you cant get to in a wheelchair but they are again very spacious.

The deck is not accessible from a wheelchair but there is a little seat on wheels that gets you safely to the spacious fore deck and net

The design and finish throughout the yacht is very good indeed and everything works very well for a wheelchair user.... and best of all you can charter it, a great job by all concerned.