Manx charity Sailing for the Disabled is marking its 30th anniversary this year with a new yacht which will make the pleasure of sailing even more accessible to people with disabilities.
The boat, a Beneteau Oceanis 48 due to arrive here in the autumn, will be more wheelchair-friendly than the charity’s current vessel Pride of Man II which it will replace.
Sailing for the Disabled’s chairman, Ian McCauley, said: ‘Pride of Man II has served the charity well since its purchase in 2005.
‘It has been a hard working boat, sailing two to three times a week throughout the year and with thousands of berths filled by individuals, school and community groups.
‘Pride of Man II is a great boat but has limitations in providing for our current sailors, for example people with wheelchairs have to be hoisted on and the toilets are down steep steps.
‘We wanted to be more inclusive and knew that these limitations were preventing potential sailors with disabilities going sailing.’
The new boat is being specially adapted to offer sailing to more people.
The main adaptations include:
l An access ramp from the stern for wheelchair users
l A sliding cockpit table to allow access through the cockpit
l A lift that allows a wheelchair to go down into the saloon
Other adaptations will help people move around the boat and provide better protection from the weather.
Mr McCauley added: ‘In our 30th anniversary year, it was right for us to look back, learn from our experiences of sailing with people with disabilities and move forward to better meet their needs.
‘It hasn’t been an easy decision but we believe we have found a better boat which will allow more people to be introduced to and enjoy sailing. The new boat will mark a step change in making sailing in the island accessible to more people.’
The new boat is due to arrive in the island in late September after being on show from September 12 to 21 at the Southampton Boat Show, the biggest of its kind in the UK attracting over 110,000 visitors.
The new boat will carry the logos of its sponsors and will be flying the flag for the Isle of Man and showcasing the best of Manx volunteering.
Sailing for the Disabled is run purely by volunteers. Members with disabilities are actively involved in sailing our current boat on short sails, day sails and cruising further afield.
In this they are supported by volunteer skippers, mates and crew.
The charity has received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The charity said it recognised the generous support of the Manx public through flag days, open days and other events.
It receives great support through sponsorship by a number of Manx companies including Nedbank, Patricia Wild Optometrists and ILS. In particular the purchase of the new boat has been facilitated by ILS.
In addition, it has over the years received donations from other Manx charities, charitable trusts and community organisations.
Sailing for the Disabled welcomes potential skippers, mates, crew and people with disabilities.
If you want to know more about the charity go to www.sftd-iom.com or ring Ian McCauley on 497037.