Originally Posted by rnjpinz
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, 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
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