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

WOOD 153 or the WOODY
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

WEBSITE - http://www.disabledsailing.org/dsa%20web/pages/152.html

We (Tim Richardson and myself) have developed this dinghy over a period of 10 years from the original Martin 16 after the moulds were lost in a fire, happily the Martin is back in production again now. Our aim was to have a dinghy with all the great attributes of the Martin but to make it simpler to manufacture and simpler controls and rigging with a view to producing them in volume. We have loaned the 6 boats we developed to individuals and clubs to get feed back and this is the result.

10/10 - As a boat for all types of disabilities - let me know if your disability stops you using this boat as I have not found one.

10/10 - As a boat for experienced disabled sailors - 3 sails plenty of tuning that it responds to very well, easy to sail and rewarding to fine tuning.

10/10 - As a training boat - two seats, movable controls, wont capsize , responds and sails well all make it is very good indeed.

9/10 - Ease of rigging - very easy the Hansa is easier so I drop a point here.

10/10 - Ease of transport and launching - optional electric keel lift makes this quite easy and mast stows without removing any rigging.

10/10 - Controls - well laid out control panel, and power assist is well though out and works well, also it is very easy to modify steering method.

10/10 - Quality of fittings and build - good quality molding's and fittings.

10/10 - Getting in and out - is easy for most disabilities.

10/10 - Sailing qualities - its a very good all rounder.

10/10 - As a club boat - 10 years of experience in Canada and the USA have shown the Martin to be outstanding in all respects.


QUOTE FROM THE DINGHY DEVELOPERS......THE WOOD 152 (Woody) was developed by a very experienced disabled sailor with the needs of disabled people in mind but also to be attractive to able-bodied people to encourage integrated sailing. Most importantly the Woody is affordable, ‘you’ will be able to sail one if you wish!

Many sailors will notice that the Martin 16 was used as the basis for developing the new dinghy. The main reason is that the original Don Martin design is very good indeed.

The Woody is effectively a Martin 16 redesigned for ease of production, maintenance and simplicity of use. Slightly narrower and shorter than the Martin to enable more boats to fit in a container to lower transport costs and be acceptable to sailing clubs who have a maximum 15 feet rule. The mast is shorter for ease of transport and the jib and spinnaker are on furlers.


The main difference is the Woody’s dash board for controls where everything falls to hand and makes it very easy to rig and maintain especially for training and racing.

The only real problems with the Martin was cost of production and complexity of the rigging. This is not a criticism of the Martin, it is one of the greats in the disabled sailing world, and that comes at a price. We have he benefit of hindsight and over 10 years of use, we spent a great deal of time experimenting, altering and redesigning parts to minimise production costs and to simplify the running of the controls.

We do not think the Woody will perform that much better than the Martin it will just be less expensive to manufacture and easier to rig and maintain.

The DSA plan is to build at least 50 dinghies, and loan them, or sell at cost to those who like to own their boats, to disabled people or clubs with disabled members providing they promise to use them regularly and join in our regattas.

The idea is that we make sailing interesting, affordable and create an instant class for racing at club and international level.


Like the Martin in the picture the Woody cannot sink, even if its tub and interior is completely flooded because of built in buoyancy. It will not capsize because of its (retractable) weighted keel. The keel is different from the Martin in that it is in three parts for ease of transport..

One of the problems with the original Martins is removing and refitting the keel as a crane is required.

The new design of keel means that the keel box, fin and bulb are all bolted together and can be taken off the hull without problem leaving a number of items that can be dealt with individually.

The keel has a manual lifting device which is carried onboard and slots into the keel box to lift and there is an electric winch powered option.


The controls, see left, sheets and lines are all in the open for ease of adjustment and are colour coded for ease of use and training. Green for spinnaker, red for jib, blue for main, black and yellow for Cunningham and kicker.

Halyards (ropes that pull the sails up) and furler lines (ropes that roll the sails up) are thinner to differentiate from sheets ( ropes that control the angle of the sails).

So an instruction might be ‘tighten the port jib sheet, that’s pull the thick red one on the left’.


Yes you are allowed to be dry warm and comfortable while sailing, but you need the right boat to do it in. You can fit almost any kind of seat you like in a Woody and adjust the angle so that you feel safe and comfortable. You do not need to be strapped in, we strongly advise against this, because with the correct seat position the boat does not tip far enough for you to fall out.

You can remove one or both the seats in a Woody, sit on the side and hang out, its actually quite fun. But if you cannot.

need to be strapped in, we strongly advise against this, because with the correct seat position the boat does not tip over far enough for you to fall out.

You can remove one or both the seats in a Woody, sit on the side and hang out, its actually quite fun. But if you cannot or do not want to sail like this you can fit almost any sort of seat you like into the tub on a 152. No need for straps or harnesses simply use the right seat and set the angle to hold you in and keep you comfortable.


Although designed as a two seater the 152 makes a very safe interesting boat to sail in any conditions. Leave out the back seat and sail from the front,


The spinnaker, screecher, genoa what ever you would like to call it, is a bit of a compromise, but it is very easy to use and much more versatile than a proper spinnaker. More importantly it is very unlikely to fall in the water or get caught under the boat.

The spinnaker has to be cut quite flat to be able furl well and this actually allows you to point very high and use the sail as a very large jib or genoa. Its not as efficient as a proper spinnaker down wind but its versatility more than makes up for this. In light airs because the sail is self supporting it is very useful indeed.

There are a number of mounting points along the gunwale that allows the spinnaker sheet mounting point to be changed.... during sailing.... as long as it is done with care, a free flapping spinnaker sheet can be very painful!

The mainsail and jib are very similar to the Martin 16. There is no reefing on the mainsail you just let the boom out as required. For experienced sailors the shape of the main is quite important but the outhaul, cunningham and kicker are all conveniently placed for use. In very heavy conditions, the Woody goes very well on just the main in 25 to 30 knots of breeze just furl the jib, she will not capsize so when everybody is putting their normal dinghy away because of gusts or high wind the Woody just becomes more fun!!!!!


You can have any sort of controls on a Woody from ‘rods or ropes to 2.4ghz radio control including the spinnaker. The simple ‘push to go that way’ rod controls or lever offer the best feed back from the rudder but it is easy to add tank, levers, joystick or servo assist to the rudder.

The rudder has 3 positions on its stock so you can adjust the amount of pressure required to turn to the point where the rudder is actually balanced at all points of a turn.

The DSA plan to make a number of these dinghies available on free loan to disabled people who agree to use them on a regular basis and take part in DSA and club regattas or to sell at cost to those who like to own their boats. If you or your club would like one (or two) email us saying where you are from and where you will sail.

With the Woody you can choose, comfort, dry, relaxed, laid back.. or wet, wild, hang on for dear life… or anything in between… you decide. Having sailed every dinghy I possible could my judgment is that this is the best all round dinghy for disabled people at the moment and should be the bench mark for future designs. A narrow hull means you can see all round when heeled, cant sink or capsize and comfortable seats, Great trainer, good racer and can sail in almost any conditions.