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Old 28-02-2015, 11:40   #1
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Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

My husband had a horrible ski accident about 4 years ago. Had it not been for an incredible surgeon here in St. Louis who developed a technique and hardware, my husband would have lost use of his right leg. The great news is he can walk... and do just about everything he wants.

The bad news is that he has a slight, but noticable limp, has very little agility or flexibility on that leg. He has to go relatively slow, and has difficulty getting down on the ground, and a few other tasks.

I keep hoping that with use, it will get better, but it has not. As I watch him moving about, I do often wonder how we will ever manage the live-a-board/cruising on a catamaran life. Besides his right leg... he is in good shape. He bikes, kayaks, sails, he also has very strong upper body. He does tasks around the house. There have been a few things that we've had to "hire out" (such as replacing a toilet) because he was not able to kneel, and move about in a smaller area.

I'm younger, by about 5 years, and am very flexible, strong and agile, (and fearless). but, I'm small. only 4' 13"..

I know I can do a lot of what is required. But, I worry about him.

I'd like some input from people who have limited movement, or other handicaps. How well are you managing on your cats? are there any tasks that are impossible? What about situations where you need to move quickly across the boat, or up and down stairs? or balancing?

Do you think I have any cause for concern?
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Old 28-02-2015, 13:18   #2
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

Since 5 years I am a live-aboard on a 11m catamaran. Due to a traffic accident I am also slightly disabled in my left foot which affects the balance. What I have noticed is that daily life on my cat does mean getting into the hulls a lot during the day.

You do not mention your husband's ability to climbing steps but I gather it must be difficult. Therefore if you are looking at a future life on a cat it might be important / advisable to have most of the daily functions on one level. There are not many cats out there which can offer that but here is a cat which has the main sleeping area in the main cabin so on one level with the cockpit:
2004 Tournier Marine Freydis 46-49 Sail New and Used Boats for Sale

Also make sure the stanchions / lifelines are high, on my boat they are 72cms high and I feel secure - was on two quality mark monohulls the other day and their stanchions / lifelines were only about 60cms high, felt like tripping lines to me!

Hope this helps.
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Old 28-02-2015, 13:28   #3
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

Quote:
Originally Posted by multihullsailor6 View Post

Also make sure the stanchions / lifelines are high, on my boat they are 72cms high and I feel secure - was on two quality mark monohulls the other day and their stanchions / lifelines were only about 60cms high, felt like tripping lines to me!

Hope this helps.
thanks for the recommendation on that cat... I'm going to go check it out.

question about the stanchions/lifelines... How do you change those out? He is almost 6'... so, we would definitely want to make the boat safe..
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Old 28-02-2015, 13:30   #4
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

Years ago I was looking into catamaran designs and came upon some designs by Jim Antrim. Some of his work were with specifics for sailors with physical handicaps.
I'm sure he has expertise on the subject.
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Old 28-02-2015, 13:57   #5
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

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Originally Posted by scarlet View Post
question about the stanchions/lifelines... How do you change those out? He is almost 6'... so, we would definitely want to make the boat safe..
If they are not at the height you want you would have to change the stanchions themselves and the guardwires or, in your situation maybe even better, opt for stainless steel tubing instead of the wire as on this Conser 47:
2001 Conser 47 Sail New and Used Boats for Sale - www.yachtworld.co.uk
pictures 1 and 28 refer.

You will also want to make sure that all sail handling ropes are led back to the cockpit including the reefing lines. To make reefing easier opt for a one-line arrangement.
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Old 01-03-2015, 09:07   #6
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

Hi Scarlet,
try to get in contact with:
lo Spirito di Stella | il Catamarano
Regards
Giorgio
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Old 01-03-2015, 11:17   #7
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

I am 75% handicapped because of two accidents and stenosis in my back, this is my reality since 2000. I am 60 years old but overall healthy and positive. I have a 34 foot cat, a catalac, and live on it since 2007. I still manage to live on the hook for 99% of the time. I have hired a experienced crew member who assist me in many tasks. The marine environment is very therapeutic for me, swimming is best exersise. I am at my physical best when on boat. The cat works for me as living environment with my handicap. Add to that that I liveaboard 1000 miles from nearest marina or chandler, off the East African coast. I would advise all gandicapped people with dreams of yachting to try go with boats and see what their specific limits affect on boat.




Quote:
Originally Posted by multihullsailor6 View Post
Since 5 years I am a live-aboard on a 11m catamaran. Due to a traffic accident I am also slightly disabled in my left foot which affects the balance. What I have noticed is that daily life on my cat does mean getting into the hulls a lot during the day.

You do not mention your husband's ability to climbing steps but I gather it must be difficult. Therefore if you are looking at a future life on a cat it might be important / advisable to have most of the daily functions on one level. There are not many cats out there which can offer that but here is a cat which has the main sleeping area in the main cabin so on one level with the cockpit:
2004 Tournier Marine Freydis 46-49 Sail New and Used Boats for Sale

Also make sure the stanchions / lifelines are high, on my boat they are 72cms high and I feel secure - was on two quality mark monohulls the other day and their stanchions / lifelines were only about 60cms high, felt like tripping lines to me!

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-03-2015, 12:00   #8
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

As a Cat sailer with a lifetime "disability" I can speak to this subject. I was a Millwright/fix everything guy when I fell through a ceiling at work seriously damaging my spine, many surgeries later, I have adapted to sailing my stable platform Gemini 31 Cat here in NC. Anyone that has been through any life changer from very active to limited would understand that its hard accept the limitations but you learn to or ?. And it is a personal thing. I dread it when somebody else says to me, you "can't" do that. I can now walk but can't lift. I find I can usually find an alternative method to get things done and thats how I got from a Monk 33 Mono to my present Gemini 31 Cat. Almost everything in life just takes a little longer but planning is everything. After my first spinal surgery, I purchased a new furnace and had it dropped at my door. I sat on the porch and completely disassembled it. Mobility limited, I put an eye bolt in the attic and used pulleys and sheaves to get the parts into the attic via the staircase then reassembled the unit while lying on a piece of plywood ripped in two with a skilsaw, not a full sheet mind you only because "I" could not work it up there. It would have been "easier and faster" to have others do it for me. If I had to replace my toilet I would dawn safety glasses, long sleeves, gloves, lay next to it, empty and break the old one to bits taking it out small pieces at a time. Then have somebody set it for me and I would rock it sideways, place the wax seal, and bolt it down. I don't sail alone, few of us do. Its about the things I "can" do, not the things I choose not to. I ask somebody else to assist me with those things. Its like sailing, whats the hurry?
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Old 01-03-2015, 16:38   #9
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

Ahoy Scarlet,

I wrote the following on another forum back in 2013:

I am a sailor with a physical handicap (hemiparesis) due to an accident I had at age 3. I didn't start to learn about sailing until I was 12, nearly 40 years ago, but already knew how to overcome several obstacles AND define my limitations (which were few, fortunately). Here are a few observations and suggestions:

- Everyone is handicapped on the water. Look around at all of the contraptions we use (with or without mechanical advantage) and I hope you'll see what I mean. Somewhere, somehow, there is usually a solution that will work for you. Get those creative juices flowing.

- One of the best things your husband can do is lots of physical therapy. This is not only to minimize the atrophy but also to strengthen other body parts (e.g. arms and hands) to facilitate mobility when aboard. This is a sensitive topic, I know. Most people think that someone who endured 10 years of intensive PT as a kid would easily embrace a PT regimen as an adult; not so - I still hate doing it but I know the payoff makes it worthwhile.

- Think about a different sailboat. Many catamarans have only one step between the cockpit and salon. The stability of such designs provide a level platform that is so much easier to get around on. Shorter overall length in a catamaran can still provide as much accomodation as you expect now in a monohull, also making many of the parts smaller and incrementally easier to handle. Yes, I understand cost is a factor but this is just a thought right now. [edit: of all designs, I firmly believe catamarans are the easiest for handicap folks].

- feel free to PM me. If CRAB, noted above, isn't local to you there may be another handicap sailing program near you; just do some research. There are many handicap sailors in this world (and at least one famous sailing author), so do not get discouraged.

- To anyone reading this, I have always felt better using the term handicap in place of disability.
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Old 01-03-2015, 23:24   #10
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

[QUOTE=scarlet;1761491]My husband had a horrible ski accident The great news is he can walk... and do just about everything he wants.
QUOTE]

You have answered your question!

More specific - for the last six years I spend two days a week training handicapped people to sail in an NGO sailing club. With the right attitude they do anything.
Two examples:
One is a blind helmsman who helms a Sonar keelboat in normal regattas (i.e. not intended for handicapped crews) and excels in his job. His boat is regularly at the top of its class.
Another is a guy in a wheelchair, who sailed with me as the only crew on a L400 catamaran, about 300 NM on the Atlantic coast Portugal/Spain, and did everything (including climbing on his own from his cabin below onto the helms seat for his watch at night).
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:15   #11
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

I just love these stories. So exciting to hear that people with physical limitations can still be out pursuing their passions, and dreams. I can't believe I didn't think about making adaptations to the boat to accommodate his needs. And when I think about it.. any given sunday he would be absolutely fine... my fears were based on the "unknowns" or "emergency situations"... but, in truth.. those may be less than 1% of the time.... ( I hope)

I agree about the PT... MISERABLE!! to watch him go through that after surgery was really hard to watch. But, I think it would be a good option to continue with that. He was doing "hot yoga" for a while to work on his flexibilty, and that seemed to do wonders. I'm going to suggest he goes back to that...

Biggest concern I think is the stairs whilst underway. especially the ones going down to the hulls. Some of those stairs to the hulls, even I have a hard time with. they are more like ladders than stairs... and if the sea is moving pretty good, footing is an issue.

Roger's suggestion is good, but there are so few multihulls with a bed on one level. We saw 1 when we were in Annapolis in Oct.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:56   #12
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

I have no expertise in this but when you mentioned your concern about stairs into the hulls a few cats came to mind. Its been a number of years but I recall seeing an older Moorings/Leopard 47 and maybe the 45 that had shaft drives with engines mounted at the base of the stairs. This created an intermediate "landing" to these stairs. From the landing you would turn right or left to go down one or two more steps to go into the forward or aft portion of the hull. What I was thinking is that this intermediate landing may be helpful/safer for your husband. I think the St Francis 44 may have this too. Check with Intentional Drifter on this forum, he had a St Francis 44. There are many of these Leopards for charter, which I'd recommend if it interests you. As many have said, chartering your leading candidates is a real fun way to shop for boats. If you do it at the busy charter locations you can make an effort to meet other cruisers and charterers to check out their choices.

One other thing which I'm sure you've considered is some cats have steps from the cockpit to the saloon. My favorite "affordable" boat, the Lagoon 410, has this. It wasn't a problem for me, but it was an annoyance. Again, get on the boats or interview owners/charterers to find out these little annoying aspects.

Good luck
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:09   #13
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pirate Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

My main concern would be the topsides.. height of lifelines/rails, liberal use of non-skid.. increase the hand holds and lead all controls back to the cockpit area.
If ordering a newbuild consult with the designer the possibility of installing a single step in each hull and a small electric winch to raise it up and down runners.. can't be that difficult.
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Old 04-03-2015, 20:15   #14
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

Some larger Privileges have a bridgedeck cabin. It is forward and center. Some have posted that the motion is not that great up there and prefer to sleep in the hulls. One problem is it's a low door way in there and it's usually referred to as a crew cabin. The bigger cats have bigger doors. No head up but with a porta potty now we have something. Many cats have outside showers so hubby wouldn't have to go down those steps hardly at all. Here's a P52
1995 Privilege 52 Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com



Many cats have a dining table that converts to a day bed.
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Old 05-03-2015, 10:42   #15
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Re: Handicapped And Sailing Catamarans

I like to say that I've got so much metal in my body I can set off airport metal detectors by just thinking about flying somewhere lol.
I've been sailing a long time, both monos and multis. I can still walk, and if I'm about to get run over I can run across the street. I can even do a deep knee bend if I'm careful.
After a bad crash in 2009 (femur, hip, rib etc.) I found that I could no longer function the way I wanted on a monohull, at least on 30' or so sizes. I am still capable enough to suit myself on multis. I had a 40' trimaran which I singlehanded for the last 2-3 years, and my lady and I are currently in the Bahamas with our new-to-us 36' catamaran.
I think if your husband is an experienced sailor he will do just fine on a multi.
Enjoy!
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