Sailability is a world wide, not-for profit, volunteer based movement facilitating sailing for everyone regardless of ability. Sailability originated in Great Britain in the 1980’s to make sailing accessible to people with disabilities. The Sailability program offered by Sailability Gippsland Lakes, a branch member of Sailing Victoria, is a fully integrated program of GLYC. The Sailability Officer, a member of GLYC Committee, is appointed annually to manage the program.
The sailability activities are designed to introduce and encourage people to participate in sailing activities in a safe, supportive environment. Sailability Gippsland Lakes is situated at Paynesville, Victoria and currently provides weekly programs to local primary and special schools, centres for people with disabilities and community support programs with occasional public sailing days.
Sailability Gippsland Lakes maintains a fleet of four Access 2.3 dinghies and three Access 303 dinghies. The Access 2.3 with its comfortable seat, joystick steering, single rope control and amazing manoeuvrability has to be the easiest boat in the world to sail. Add to that the wide side decks, ballasted centreboard and reefable mainsail and it also has to be one of the safest. What makes this little boat so unique is the confidence and sense of security it gives even the new sailor.
The Access 303 is slightly larger and has a fully roller reefable jib as well as a mainsail. The 303 is fast, and exciting, but is also a relaxing and comfortable boat to sail. Both boats are able to be sailed by two people thus making them ideal for volunteers to co-sail with sailors requiring support. We also have equipment for transferring people with limited mobility into the boats.
Chris Mitchell is the designer of the Access dinghies. Click here to read his story.
The program is run by a dedicated team of volunteers who undertake a range of jobs to assist sailors. A roster system ensures that we don’t overdo things but many of our volunteers nevertheless are there even when they’re not on the roster. On sailing days volunteers bring boats out from the GLYC boat shed, rig the boats and put them in the water. They then crew the safety boat, assist people into life jackets and then into the boats from the sailability jetty, co-sail if required, and man the registration desk. At the end of the day’s sailing we do all this in reverse.
You don’t have to be a sailor to be a volunteer or a member of GLYC. Landlubbers are most welcome too and some of our volunteers are themselves disabled. If you are interested in finding out more about the program or becoming a volunteer, please call the Sailability Officer, Alan Pick on 0410 584 860.
For more information on Access Dinghies click here.
For more information on Sailability click here.