Spirit of Scott Bader

On Sunday 15th May five members of Sussex Sailability were given the opportunity to sail on Spirit of Scott Bader, from Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth Harbour. This was organised by the Disabled Sailors Association. We had booked our places earlier in the year at the Farnborough Dinghy show.
Spirit of Scott Bader is a wheelchair accessible catamaran built for the Disabled Sailors Association and first launched in 2000. It takes approximately 1,000 Disabled people sailing each summer.
We travelled by train to Portsmouth Harbour, early on Sunday morning, allowing plenty of time for breakfast at Gunwharf Quays on our arrival. At 09:45 we checked in for our short voyage, were issued with life jackets, and then given a skipper’s briefing aboard before our 10am departure.
There were eleven of us onboard consisting of nine guest sailors including ourselves, a skipper, and one crew member.
Two children in our group, who were wheelchair users, found the boat accessible and were able to get themselves onboard and move around the desk with ease. The boat was also very stable which made moving around easier for everyone.
We sailed through the harbour passing SV Tenacious, the Jubilee Sailing Trust tall ship, which was moored nearby. Tenacious is the only sea-going tall ship in the world that can be sailed by a mixed ability crew, including disabled people. This brought back happy memories for me as I’ve enjoyed some exciting voyages aboard in the past.
The sky was overcast and it started to rain heavily so we were grateful for the enclosed seated desk area, which protected us all from the weather. This gave everyone a chance to chat and get to know each other. A young boy, with an electric wheelchair, gave me an informative demonstration of his chair’s high-tech controls.
The boat had a fully accessible cockpit with easy reach controls and everyone was given the chance to helm if they wished. Hannah, a young girl who was a wheelchair user, was particularly thrilled to be steering the boat. When our hour- long trip ended, and we returned to Gunwharf Quays, she didn’t want to leave the boat!
This was a great way to spend a Sunday morning, and I’m tempted to return for a slightly longer trip later in the summer when the weather improves. Our associated power boat ride, scheduled for that afternoon, was unfortunately cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.
After lunch we decided to go sight-seeing and visit the Spinnaker Tower. We took the lift up to the high glass enclosed viewing platform where we enjoyed some amazing views of the harbour and surrounding area. Later we relaxed in a local traditional Pub, the Ship Anson, enjoying a wide range of ales and good food before heading home.
Chris Taylor
Sussex Sailability

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