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Old 17-02-2013, 12:25   #1
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Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

A wheelchair bound young man with Cerebral Palsy is interested in voyaging with me. The idea intrigues me as I have an incorrigible altruistic streak and, as I planned on singlehanding anyway, what he can contribute in the way of help is not really an issue.

I have yet to purchase the boat but I expect to before summer so I can have it ready to go after hurricane season ends.. I'm pretty set on a Pearson Triton but an Ariel or a Bristol is also likely. I've abandoned the idea of the Freedom as the displacement is too light and very few show up on the market.

Query: What special provisions should I consider to accomodate a disabled shipmate?

That he'll need to switch to a standard wheelchair instead of electric is a given. That I'll need to hoist him on and off the boat and sometimes carry him like a papoose ashore is also assumed and, even at 64, i'm capable of doing that.

He's not capable of assisting with boat handling but he could stand lookout watches and, perhaps, keep me provided with hot food and roborative beverages while passagemaking. Other than that, he's basically supercargo

What should I consider by way of accomodation for him?
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Old 17-02-2013, 12:39   #2
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Re: Voyaging with a handicapped crew mate

I'd say you're nuts.

Wow! What a difficult set of decisions you would need to make.
I have only had one Cerebral Palsy friend and I had to translate for him so others could understand him. I even had to do it when he was trying to speak on his phone to his FATHER! His father could understand him, but just made it easier for him if I could.

I take it you know him very well?

If this man is wheelkchair bound getting him on and off the boat is the least of your problems! Think about having to take him to the toilet, dressing him etc.
Have done this with him?

At 64 are you altruistic enough to destory your cruising dream for someone else? You might not get a second chance.

I know my answer.... but then I know, and understand, that I am a bit selfish. If I wasnt I could never have been able to go cruising at all.


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Old 17-02-2013, 13:13   #3
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

i have to agree with mark,totally inpractical and bordering on the dangerous,who is keeping watch whilst you are downstairs wiping his bum?

my wife works with autistic people some are 1to1,others 5 to1,by all means take him out on a boat,but somthing that is crewed,and big enough to have wheelchair access.
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Old 17-02-2013, 13:22   #4
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pirate Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

Accomodation...?
A catamarran for starters...
Bristol/Pearson etc aint gonna work..
Unless the wheel chair stays in the locker once you cast off.. you carry him up for watches... in fact everywhere... you do all the cooking.. etc... etc.. wheelchairs don't work in mono's..
Spend sometime this summer with him on board while your fixing up the boat... and treat the experience with him there as if your are at sea...
Give it up mate.... it can't be done.. not your way without cruelty...
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Old 17-02-2013, 13:46   #5
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For now we're on a landlocked lake 26 miles long above the last dam on the Missouri River so its not like we're sailing the North Atlantic in November - although South Dakota is one of the windiest areas in North America. That being said, our dock neighbor has a buddy in a wheelchair who crews for him frequently on a 36 footer. Has enough upper body strength to move around the cockpit well. I've helped carry his chair down the marina steps a few times. I mention all this because Chip's boat usually beats the pants off every other boat in the marina whenever we have races. I don't know how he does it, nothing special about his boat, just an average boat so it must be the crew.

All depends on the individual, current capabilities of the person, impossible to generalize. Good luck though. It does make me think of the boaters who take their great grandparents on board, frail and fragile and certainly a physical risk too if anything bad happened. On balance in a bad spot, I guess I'd rather have a vigorous wheelchair user on board. (sadly a very elderly dock guest tumbled into the water last season, between a boat and the dock. It was a frantic rescue situation, but I'll bet Chip's buddy would dog paddle just fine until we lifted him out.)
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Old 17-02-2013, 14:23   #6
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

Maybe I am nuts and maybe it is a pie-in-the-sky dream for him; but,we're not talking 'Stephen Hawkings' here. Ryan's upper body works fine, mostly. He can communicate and look sfter his personal needs without my help. Some here obviously know nothing about CP. Suffice it to say that, at 26, Ryan's CP is what it is. It's not going to get worse.

I think I mentioned that I am 64 so imagining all the reasons why this can't be done is something I can do without help. I started this thread to see if others may be able, perhaps from first or second hand experience, suggest ways it CAN be done. It would be worthwhile, if possible, to give this boy the gift of an unimaginable adventure.
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Old 17-02-2013, 15:10   #7
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

My wife is disabled and my son is disabled and we've sailed 1500 miles down the coast. Both were in wheelchairs at one time, neither is now.
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Old 17-02-2013, 15:46   #8
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pirate Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldPelican View Post
Maybe I am nuts and maybe it is a pie-in-the-sky dream for him; but,we're not talking 'Stephen Hawkings' here. Ryan's upper body works fine, mostly. He can communicate and look sfter his personal needs without my help. Some here obviously know nothing about CP. Suffice it to say that, at 26, Ryan's CP is what it is. It's not going to get worse.

I think I mentioned that I am 64 so imagining all the reasons why this can't be done is something I can do without help. I started this thread to see if others may be able, perhaps from first or second hand experience, suggest ways it CAN be done. It would be worthwhile, if possible, to give this boy the gift of an unimaginable adventure.

Ahah... now you tell us about his physical abilities... not just his disability... big difference...
Ohhhh... You are a Tease aintcha....
And we bit... coming in from the extreme end... instead of asking the severity first...
In the above circumstances no reason why not... had a lad like that and his family spend a day out with us in Majorca way back when... he had two 'normal' brothers and the 3 were getting bored sitting around while the grown ups waffled on.
He was 14.. the others 7 & 9.. so I got the dinghy out and started the motor... got him into it with help down the ladder from above and me steadying from below (he could support his weight standing.. just could not co-ordinate anything waist down).
Anyway within 20 mins he and his brothers were flying round our private anchorage opposite Dragonera.. he had a ball and last I heard he was badgering his folk about a boat...
Give it a go with a couple of week+ cruise's and throw in some safe but bouncy stuff... if its gonna stand a chance thats when you'll find out..
Hope he don't get sea sick to bad 1st time...
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Old 17-02-2013, 15:53   #9
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

Consult his and your physicians about the extent of your capabilities. Outright, I'd say very big challenges are ahead of you; not a good idea. May I suggest an alternative plan? How about taking him in a chartered house/pontoon boat on a quiet lake for a week's vacation. There will be more fun to be enjoyed for both of you. Pontoon boats are spacious and wheel chairs friendly. Give it a thought! (Many sailors on here, will gladly recommend you scenic lakes for pontoon boats travel.) Mauritz
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Old 17-02-2013, 16:01   #10
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

I used to be a sports car racing instructor. One of the lessons that we'd teach new drivers was on the skid pad, wet and slippery. It was 500 feet square with one traffic cone in the middle. We would tell them to slide the car past the traffic cone. As far away as they pleased or as close as they wanted, but DON'T HIT THE CONE!
They could easily slide past it 200 feet away but about 2/3 students would hit the cone.
The lesson wasn't about sliding the car, it was about looking where you wanted the car to go, not where you didn't want it to go. Visualize your success.
If all you see is reasons why it can't work, it can't work.
You can probably find ways that it can work.
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Old 17-02-2013, 16:30   #11
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

If you're comfortable with the additional responsibility of having another person aboard, if he wants to go with you, and you give it a practice run or two, mainly to see whether or not he gets seasick [here's somewhere his doc could possibly help], and you both want to do it, go for it! The extra pair of eyes he offers you could be a real blessing, plus you'd get the fun of making the voyage possible for him.
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Old 17-02-2013, 16:50   #12
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

Congratulations! This world would be a better place if there were more people like you who wanted to get involved in helping others.

With a little ingenuity, I don’t think getting on the boat or down the companionway is insurmountable but moving around below could be a challenge and using the head can be awkward, even for the able bodied. I’d also seriously consider removing the saloon table. We take my elderly mother cruising (I’m in trouble if she reads this and hears me refer to her as “elderly”) and some things are much easier with two people to help – I can’t imagine what you are proposing without having some help.

If you Google “disabled sailing” you will find several organization, although most are geared around day sailing. But I’m sure with a few emails and phone calls you can find someone with real experience – you might even be able to arrange for both of you to go sailing with someone to try this out.

I’d start with the International Association For Disabled Sailing Disabled | Sailors | ISAF | World Sailing | Official Website : Disabled Index

And although they are not U.S. based, these two organizations actually take disabled people cruising and might have some good advise.
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Sailing holidays in Greece for people with a disability and visually impaired

Good Luck to you
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Old 17-02-2013, 17:07   #13
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

Now we're cooking with gas :P

The suggestion of some shakedown cruises with him is a good one. He'll join the boat from Florida and there are plenty of opportunities there for eating the elephant one sandwich at a time starting with some daysailing followed by some overnighters along the coast and then a short cruise in the Bahamas. that should give us a good idea of whether it's a good idea or not

Steve, I'm reading my way through your blog. Landfall is a gorgeous boat. i haven't gotten to the part where I get thoroughly introduced to Tamiko and Eli yet but I'm looking forward to it. Sounds like they were a great help with the restoration.

Ann, I won't lie and say I haven't thought about how helpful it would be to have Ryan stand his share of lookout watches. I think he might even be able to helm the boat through narrow passages while I con it from the foredeck and he would certainly be good company.

I'm not too concerned with my abilities. Getting older has slowed me down and, where I once ran everywhere, I don't run anywhere anymore. I did Marine Corps boot camp followed by a period of hiking, camping and picnicing with the infantry in Viet nam. Anything less arduous I can do standing on my head while making eye splices with my toes and whistling 'Dixie' :P
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Old 17-02-2013, 17:23   #14
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldPelican View Post
Anything less arduous I can do standing on my head while making eye splices with my toes and whistling 'Dixie' :P
Can you post the video?
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Old 17-02-2013, 17:44   #15
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Re: Voyaging with a Handicapped Crew Mate

I don't know... sounds do-able to me. I think the wheelchair will have to be stowed. If he can get around without it on your boat, I think you got a good chance of success. Try a day sail and see how it goes.
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