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Old 24-08-2011, 13:13   #16
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

Thanks to all for your thoughts and wishes. Loosing the leg does not scare her or me. Limiting our sailing time does bother her. She is tough as nails with a pain threshold that would make the strongest of men wimper. If all goes well we will be heading south next year, so, if you come across a one legged woman pirate, just say Arrrrrgh

Bob
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Old 24-08-2011, 13:16   #17
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

You may want to read some Tristan Jones for inspiration.

Quote:
His left leg was amputated in 1982, as a result of health problems and accidents. Despite this, he resumed sailing, in an effort to inspire other people with disabilities. He sailed the trimaran Outward Leg from San Diego to London by way of Colombia, Panama, and New York; the story of this voyage was told in his book Outward Leg. He then continued across central Europe by river and canal, and around south Asia to Thailand; this story became his next book, The Improbable Voyage.
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Old 24-08-2011, 17:17   #18
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

Not to make light of your wife's situation, but having spoken with below the knee amputees, the retention of the knee makes all the difference. While it won't be "minor", having one's leg replaced below, say, the mid-calf point is no impediment to sailing (you can step on random tacks with no consequence! No stubbing the toes on cleats!) and with training, I doubt she will even limp.

As for inspiration, read "Reach for the Sky"

Amazon.com: Reach for the Sky (9780899669106): Paul Brickhill: Books

I read this when I was just a kid and it was very inspirational, but more to the point...convincing!
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Old 24-08-2011, 17:35   #19
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

Alchemy,

Trust me when I say, making light of the situation is really all there is after 20 years. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Hell, I have seen enough doctors in the last 20 years to staff Mayo Clinic. Your comment about not stubbing your toe makes us laugh and keeps our sanity in check. I really do appreciate everyone and their comments.
Bob
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Old 24-08-2011, 17:40   #20
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

My best wishes to your brave wife, I think she'll be just fine on the boat. When I think about it, I'm usually sitting on a coaming while in the cockpit and when I need to go forward while sailing, I tend to stay low and kinda crawl along. You might think about a helm seat to make her watches more pleasant. I see these advertised all the time in the Catalina Mainsheet mag and they look pretty comfy. Comfort at the helm is called Helmseat for Catalina Sailboats

Mike
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Old 24-08-2011, 20:47   #21
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

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Originally Posted by rnjpinz View Post
Alchemy,

Trust me when I say, making light of the situation is really all there is after 20 years. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Hell, I have seen enough doctors in the last 20 years to staff Mayo Clinic. Your comment about not stubbing your toe makes us laugh and keeps our sanity in check. I really do appreciate everyone and their comments.
Bob
Well, if the end result is less pain and more sailing, it's all good, as the kids say.
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Old 24-08-2011, 21:13   #22
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

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Originally Posted by rnjpinz View Post
My wife is getting ready for her upcoming leg surgury, (ankle replacement) and we already know that she is not a great candidate for this procedure. She has already had more than 20 surguries on this leg. If things don't go well during the procedure she has opted for amputation rather than fusion of the ankle.

I am looking for any of you that may know someone or have personal experience with sailing with a prostetic leg. It would be nice to find someone who can encourage her.

Bob
Bob, I don't have a prosthetic leg, but I do have mild cerebral palsy. It affects only my legs, and one leg more than the other. I single-hand my 31' Hunter all the time. It's just a matter of figuring out what helps me the most.

My boat has a relatively high freeboard, and my legs aren't strong enough to get me on to the boat at high tide. However, I found a marina that has steps at the end of the dock. When I'm at a different marina, I found a hanging step that attaches to the toe rail (Hunters have a metal toe rail with holes every 4" or so). I put that step right under the shrouds, put one foot on the step, and pull myself up with the shrouds. It's very safe and secure.

I put netting along the boat so I can crawl if necessary to the bow (along with a jackline and tether which must be kept short, so if you fall, you don't fall OFF the boat).

Another thing I do is put up ridge line between the mast (at the top of the furled sail) and the pulpit, which gives me something to hold on to when I go forward while in the slip (it interferes with tacking and jybing while under sail).

I have found that having higher handholds towards the center of the boat works best for me because I can compensate for my legs' weakness with upper body strength.

When I pull up the anchor I sit down with my feet in the anchor locker (be sure to keep your feet clear of the rode). You might find a windlass will make a huge increase in how much she can help while anchoring and unanchoring.

I believe if I can do it, your wife can do it too. She will still have the same coordination she had before the surgery. Just start out with gentle sails and gradually work up to rougher conditions so she has time to figure out what works best for her.

I could hardly walk when I was six. I do believe that if I can do it -- and safely -- she can to. I think it's why I love sailing so much -- because with these modifications, the CP might as well not be there. In fact, none of my sailing friends know unless I tell them. The only limitation I have is that I don't crew for races because it's not smart for me to move around a boat *real* fast. For recreational sailing -- there seems to be nothing I can't do.

Good luck to her, but I think she'll be fine. She just needs to think about what's the best way for *her* to move about the boat, and I think you'll find that extra handholds, above her center of gravity, are a big help.

If she has an occupational therapist after the surgery (and she probably will) take that person out for a sail so he or she can see what's involved. They are VERY good at figuring out the kinds of things I've described.

One more thing -- don' forget the inside of the cabin. Mine has overhead handholds, and that means I can get to the head safely in rough weather.
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Old 25-08-2011, 11:33   #23
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

Ditto on the overhead handholds. While I have pretty strong legs from cycling, the particular movement of boats has caused my feet to "miss" companionway steps, which is the royal road to a busted nose, caved in teeth or worse. I find that an overhead "shower bar" or something similarly robust, means even if you slip, you are doing a monkey-like hang in safety until you can regain your footing.

One of my major criticisms of current cruiser design is not only the condo-like width of the modern cruising saloon (farther to fall!) but also the poverty of places to hang on to as you traverse (yes, like as in mountaineering) a heaving cabin sole when on the open ocean.

Boats without handholds are 15 knot day fairweather inshore vessels, in my opinion. The proper ocean is a place in constant and not always predictable movement. The OP may wish to consider that in terms of deck and sole coatings given the potential that a footless spouse may be unable to "plant" her artificial foot with the same bracing strength as before.

A company called Lonseal makes several attractive non-slip surfaces which I will be installing on my steel boat next year in the runup to world cruising.
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Old 29-08-2011, 21:22   #24
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Re: Sailing with a Prosthetic Leg

I hope your wife doesn't end up needing a prosthetic leg, but if she does, just be watchful of the materials used. My wife sails with a prosthetic arm, and has had issues with salt water on aluminum components. Stainless steel and titanium hold up well though.
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