How dinghies were originally launched and retrieved. Photo: Supplied.
CONTRIBUTED BY GEOFF GRACE, SECRETARY, SAILABILITY BAYSIDE
This year was the 20th anniversary for Sailability Bayside, who provide sailing experiences for people with disability at Manly Harbour in Brisbane.
Sailing for people with disability arrived in Australia in the late 1990s, with the first club in Queensland starting at the Southport Yacht Club in the year 2000. The Cerebral Palsy League (CPL) saw that this activity was a suitable outlet for their clientele and soon became involved.
As the activity grew in popularity, CPL sought a suitable location in the Brisbane region and the Multihull Yacht Club at Manly accepted the challenge to participate in the venture. The group in company with Sailability Queensland sought support from local community groups with the result that Lions MacGregor, Lions Capalaba and the Wynnum Manly Rotary Club joined in to purchase three Hansa sailing dinghies so operations could begin.
The beginning was rather testing as there were many obstacles to overcome where people with little or limited mobility had to be placed into boats which then had to be launched into the waters of the Manly Harbour. An old boat trailer was subsequently modified for this operation, with an electric winch located on the shore used to launch and retrieve the boats as required. A person also had to be stationed in the actual water during these movements to raise and lower the centreboard of the boats so they could access the trailer. This particular job was easily filled in the warmer months however it was not as popular when the weather was cold.
This sailing activity then quickly grew from five clients initially to some 30 within a short time and thoughts turned to the purchase of a yacht to accommodate the increasing numbers. A seven-metre Payne daysailer named Faith was subsequently purchased for this purpose, though it was still hard work changing people in and out of the dinghies using the trailer method.
It was not until 2010 that negotiations with the State Government resulted in a state-of-the-art pontoon being installed at the site that dramatically changed the way that people could be readily hoisted in and out of dinghies without their being taken from the water. This addition was a boon to disabled sailing at Manly Harbour and numbers of clients as well as volunteers increased accordingly, so that in recent times 70 to 80 people enjoy the feeling of being out on the water in a small boat on sailing days.
The anniversary of 20 years was recently celebrated at the same site, now held by the Darling Point Sailing Squadron, where more than 200 people attended in support of the Sailability Bayside operation. From this gathering, it is obvious that sailing for people with disability is assured into the future.
If you’d like more information about Sailability Bayside, email [email protected] or visit sailabilitybayside.org.au.