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

WEBSITE - http://knoticat.co.uk/www.knoticat.co.uk/Welcome.html/

MY COMMENT..... Great Club with a good attitude, any disability welcome, are you reading this all you 'disabled sailing providers' this is one of the few that I can name, Wetwheels, RoRo, are the others.

I have great admiration for Richard Monaghan who started this project for the Bournemouth Sports Forum for the Disabled. He saw it to successful fruition, and his club and their volunteers have produced a very nice accessible cruising yacht by converting an existing design, and this is no mean feat.......

I have had a short trial of the yacht and it works very well indeed. Some disabled people may not be able to reach the controls but easy on and off, an accessible toilet and having some where to hide from inclement weather is a real achievement and Poole harbour is a delightful and interesting place to sail.

The following is from the clubs website.... Our boat is an adapted nine meter Catalac sailing catamaran, purchased in February 2001 with funds raised from various charitable organizations.

After being sailed for that season Knoticat was given a major refit. The size of the engines was doubled to twin 18hp Yanmar diesels. A new coach roof with full head height and a flat floor for wheelchairs gave us the necessary room to fit a disabled friendly full flushing toilet. The bulkhead to the front bunk was modified to enable wheelchair transfer onto a comfortable bed. The hulls were extended and full hydraulic steering fitted together with a stainless steel railing round the cockpit area for safety.

The logo on our mainsail says ‘real hands-on sailing for disabled’ . That has been the guiding principal in all our designs and modifications. The sails are self furling, all winches and ropes lead back to the cockpit where they can be worked from a wheelchair or sitting position for the less mobile. We are proud that the original volunteers who began the project are still active and have been joined by more dedicated helpers who all give their time on a voluntary basis.

We have experienced skippers who are always on hand to give help and advice but try to make sure the disabled have maximum hands-on participation without compromising the safety of the vessel.

We would always like to run more trips but face a constant shortage of suitably qualified skippers, so if you know anyone, please tell them about us! The boat is based at Cobbs Quay Hamworthy, Poole in Dorset, where M D L.Marinas provide us with invaluable support. We can also pick up from the Haven Marina on Poole Quay if that is more convenient.

There is no charge for use of the boat for disabled and carers, though donations are always welcome! Indeed, without the financial support of our many sponsors we would not be able to run the boat. We look forward to the future, lots of warm sunshine, good sailing and good company.