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

click to enlarge


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

MY OPINION....... designing and building from scratch is the way to go to get the best compromise and value... this is how Mike Brown did it...

Now based at Shake a Leg in Miami and you can get to sail her.

Mike a successful business man, spent a number of years building up a trust fund from the profits and eventual sale of an outdoor activity business to achieve an ambition of designing and building a wheelchair accessible ocean going yacht.

A year of planning, 18 months of building, a year of testing and 1.5 million produced 'Impossible Dream'.

I was a bit skeptical when Mike first explained his ambitious plans for computers and Electro-hydraulic controls, my experience with high tech kit mixed with salt water was not so good. My recent inspection and photo session showed how wrong I could be.

Mike worked with designer Nic Bailey and builder Darren Newton to produce a very nice yacht without it 'seeming over the top' in any way. The yacht looks impressive without looking ostentatious, the mix of straight lines and curves works well.

The boarding lift is clever and effective, the rear deck my look to spacious for safety but it has been well thought out and grab rails are always close to hand. The separate helm stations on each aft quarter look good and do not interfere with the looks or access around the deck... and the carbon wheels are stunning!. There is just enough woodwork to make things look tastefully elegant, the gently sloping decks are not a problem and give a real sense of security. A very nice touch are the built in fenders.

Saloon and galley are very nicely designed with windows at the right level to see all round, I particularly liked the roof windows they are very practical and give a really light airy feel to the cabin.

At first look the inside helm position may just as well be 'Starship Enterprise' but when you take a closer look there is no un-necessary clutter, just the things you need places very nicely to hand. The hydraulics and control lines are discretely hidden and also fall nicely to hand.

The hulls contain cabins and heads. The rear cabin worried me when I first saw the plans because it lost its head room to the deck ramp. The reality is for a wheelchair user the rear cabin is very cozy, spacious and works well. The forward cabin with its extra headroom has fold down tracks for wheelchairs and also works well. A really nice touch (and there are dozens I have not mentioned) are the stainless effect roller shutter doors to the cabins, they really look smart and work very well.

The dagger boards and the heads take up the rest of the space in the hulls and while the heads will not win any awards from many women they are practical which is more than can be said about many yachts I have tried. The carbon loo seats???? look superb.

The design and finish throughout the yacht is very good indeed and a credit to all concerned.