At the end of a successful sailing season in 2016, Dart Sailability is reflecting on progress on the water, and a number of new initiatives to improve the service they can give to their members with disabilities. There have been a few changes to the management team this year; several people have decided to move on and, although they will be sadly missed, the change will bring new ideas and a fresh approach to the way the charity is run.
The sailing season itself has allowed 42 sailing members and 28 members and students from local schools to take to the water at some point during the summer. We continue to welcome disabled students and have removed a lower age limit to ensure that, wherever practical, we can cater for all ages and disabilities. Two local schools and a care home for adults with learning difficulties regularly use our facilities and there are plans to extend this to other groups and educational establishments which support young disabled people. Junior members are the adult members of the future and the charity intends to try to attract more junior members for 2017 and future years.
We offer the RYA Sailability Certificate of Achievement Sailing Scheme, and during the year we have also trialled a new scheme designed to use both sailing and powerboats. The feedback from students and teachers is that our training is very beneficial, and provides enjoyable, healthy outdoor exercise.
Other activity on the water includes racing our two Paralympic class Sonar keelboats in the Royal Dart Yacht Club’s evening race series in Start Bay, and the Dartmouth Royal Regatta. The aim is to introduce as many members, able-bodied and disabled, to the challenge and excitement of yacht racing, in a relaxed and supportive environment. However, for those who are not hooked on adrenalin, we also take gentle cruises in our specially adapted powerboats to look at wildlife or learn about the history of the River, and we have a fleet of Access dinghies which are well used by disabled sailors who just want to experience the joy and freedom of sailing. A member was heard to say: ”I don’t feel disabled when I’m sailing.”
Dart Sailability actively supported other organisations on the River during the year, by loaning boats and providing safety cover for charitable events. The powerboat instructors also trained members of other clubs to achieve RYA Powerboat Level 2 certificates.
Chairman Mike Breed said: “This activity is all made possible by the generous support of our sponsors and the provision of marina facilities by Premier Marinas, the new owners of Noss on Dart Marina. However, my biggest thank you is to the 72 registered volunteers, many of whom have their own disabilities, but who continue to turn up in all weathers to give the time needed to keep the Charity going.”
After two years as Principal, Andrew Cushen has stepped down as Principal and has instead taken on the role of Chief Powerboat Instructor for next season, replacing Richard Fellender who has retired from the role. Andrew’s place is being taken by Stephen Oakey, who is himself disabled. Stephen is well known to River users, having spent many years as an Assistant Harbour Master. He said: “When I retired from the Royal Navy I became a Yachtmaster (Offshore) and worked at BRNC. I saw Dart Sailability across the water at Noss and thought ‘what a wonderful thing to do’; I never expected to be part of it.” Stephen will be assisted in the role by Steve Watkin, who has been a volunteer with the Charity for 2 years and comes from an Army background.
The Charity would welcome a volunteer to take on role of Publicity Officer. Reporting to the Chairman, this post holder is responsible for relations with the media, press releases and advertising and is part of the management team. If you are interested please contact the Chairman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the moment all the boats are out of the water undergoing their annual refit; all the work is being undertaken by the members. The boats will be relaunched during April, after which volunteer training will take place. The sailing season will start again in May. Dart Sailability offers a warm welcome to new volunteers and sailors. No experience is necessary, just the ability to gain new skills and have fun. For more information see our website www.dartsailability.org or look at our Facebook page.Follow