Sailing with the disabled

We had met Arne the chairman of Isle of Man sailing for the disabled in Peel when we were bringing Salty Lass down from Troon to Liverpool and we arranged a day where we could help out on Pride of Mann III as crew.

Pride of Mann III, is a Beneteau Oceanis 48 whose home port is Douglas. It has been adapted for the disabled by having a wider door on the toilet for wheel chair access. It has a movable cockpit table and a ramp that can take a wheel chair up and down the stairs.

The children from the special needs unit of Castle Rushen High School were set to arrive at 10:15, so we arrived at the yacht one hour before hand to discuss the outline of the day and have the safety briefing.

Soon the four children arrived with their teacher Kerry. All the children were excited and wanted to be helmsmen, but initially they needed to listen and sit in the cockpit while Pride of Mann III manoeuvred out of the harbour. As soon as we were in the outer harbour Caleb one of the children helped on the winch to bring out the main sail, while the other children Molly, Evan and Mikolaj saw the first pod of dolphins. During the sail, we were all fortunate to see several pods of dolphins along with other wild life like gannets, seagulls and jelly fish. Every time we saw a pod of dolphins we all strained to see the elusive creatures and enjoyed the magic together when we were rewarded with a sighting. During the sail to the mooring just south of Laxy, Caleb, Molly and Mikolaj all had a go at being helmsmen, while Evan took it easy and looked out for wildlife.

While we sailed to the mooring I chatted to Kerry their teacher who told me that over the last five years in addition to using the sailing to deliver biology and geography lessons, the school has been using the sailing to help develop the children in a variety of different ways, from improving language, listening skills as well as giving them coping mechanisms to deal with challenges. For some children, it has also given them a life long hobby, as they have gone on to access the service as adults.

I also chatted to William, one of the volunteers who started as a mate, but through training provided by the other volunteers he has progressed to a local skipper. For him, he has been able to enjoy sailing and helping others.

On the approach to the moorings just south of Laxy bay, Beverley had the privilege of helming the yacht onto the mooring while I helped at the front of the yacht picking up the strop that was attached to the top of the buoy. Once safely moored on the buoy, the children ate their lunch. Everyone ate everything as they all had such a healthy appetite.

On leaving the mooring I was asked to helm, with the help of Caleb who joined me on the helm. The winds had picked up and were so strong on our return that we sailed just south of the light house and discussed the Peregrine falcons that are said to nest on the cliff face just below Marine Drive. Although we all looked, we failed to see them, soon it was time to return to harbour where I handed over the helm to William who helmed the yacht into port.

It was a fantastic day and I will always remember the smile on Molly's face.

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We were only on our third sail in our brand new boat to us and we had to call the coast guard for assistance. That assistance came in the shape of a RNLI boat from Portpatrick, so we have decided to raise money for the RNLI through our Damsels in distress page on just giving, that way you know that any money goes straight to them. We have set ourselves a target of £500 and we would like to honour our pledge, so if you like our videos then please give a little to those who rescue people in the seas around the UK.

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