Last month, the East Anglian Sailing Trust (EAST), a charity that offers sailing for the blind and disables, ran a very successful taster week on the River Orwell at Suffolk Yacht Habour, Ipswich as part of he Royal Yachting Association's national 'Push the Boat Out'
The new squib keelboat with joystick control went down a storm with the less physically able guests as it enables them to take control of the boat with only left or right hand movement.
Disability advocate, travel writer and presenter, Emily Yates enjoyed the event and said: “The first thing I really noticed when I got into the boat was how safe and comfortable I felt, but also how independent and adventurous I felt. It was a great example of 'good butterflies' and a sensation that I think you can only really get on the water. Even putting the kit on was fun and something different... it definitely saved me from the cold and wet!!
“One thing I love about EAST is that there is never a shortage of passionate people who are there to help, but who are also desperate to get sailing with you, as it's just what they love to do. It's absolutely infectious!
“Definitely exhilarating. The sonar kept tipping from side to side, so it was a mixture of scares and thrills all at once! The guys really knew what they were doing though, and I was strapped into a seat with a backrest, so secure and comfy throughout.”
EAST Chairman, Geoff Dreher said, “We’re delighted with the fantastic turn out of budding new sailors. We never tire of seeing people who didn’t think they could sail enjoying being out on the water. The purpose of the taster days is to demonstrate how much fun sailing can be under safe and controlled conditions. I must thank the volunteers who willingly give up their time and let us use their boats in order that we may be able to provide sailing to blind and disabled people in East Anglia.”
EAST currently provides two weekend cruises and a week long, live-aboard sailing cruise where visually impaired sailors from all over the country regularly enjoy gaining sailing experience with an enjoyable social programme. Their fleet of nine Squibs, two Sonars and two Yeoman keelboats plus two support boats are used, with volunteer support, by disabled adults and children on a regular basis.
More information can be found at www.east-anglian-sailing-trust.org.uk