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Old 25-11-2012, 05:52   #1
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Accessible Boat

I need to start planning on making a boat accessible for a limited mobility person. The person has problems walking and going up and down stairs. Moving around in tight quarters is a problem, so is jumping up to access a bow V-berth.

Have any of you modded a boat to make it easier to get around in and on for someone who had limited mobility? Which boats, sail or power, would be possible candidates? What are important changes that were made?

Even if you have not done any changes like this your ideas are desired. If you have changed your boat to make it easier to get around in and on, you are already doing this.

I have been trying to plan out how to do the mods on my Catalina 30 sailboat. The most important would be getting up and down the hatch. A hoist of some type looks possible, probably something based on a land version, but with 12vdc motors. The other is setting up a berth, possible with a pneumatic post for the dining table. The sails and controls are the biggest issue. For the immediate future sailing is not a huge problem because all lines are led to the cockpit.

I am looking at modding a trawler too. The mods would be similar to access the cabin, except the entry doors would need to be widened on most trawlers, stooping and turning to enter is not that easy. On deck the movement around is about the same as a sailboat, without the shrouds getting in the way. The fly bridge access would be similar to other lifts. Sleeping, cooking and general entertainment would be easier on board a trawler than a sailboat. With the genset, power would generally not be a problem for lifts or other powered changes.

Dockside would be some type of hoist or crane. On board would be a crane or other hoist.
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Old 25-11-2012, 06:44   #2
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Re: Accessible Boat

You may want to contact the folks at Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating and see if they have any suggestions. Also found this link, New To Sailing - Advice for beginners

When you say the person has trouble walking are you talking about joint mobility issues or balance issues? What type of aid will be used, cane, crutches, walker, wheelchair? It would help to know but we don't need private info. I know many sailors with joint replacements and getting off and on the dock is indeed the biggest hurtle. Floating docks are a great help with getting off and on the boat. Maybe a gangway, modified for safety, they do come in different widths. I would second the idea about modifying the table to make a berth. It is on our to do list and we've been carting around such a pedestal under our v-berth waiting to install it! The ideas you gather could be helpful to lots of older sailors as well.
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Old 25-11-2012, 07:33   #3
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Re: Accessible Boat

Thank you. I will be working with CRAB, I am very familiar with them I bought Sisu from them.

The knee replacements are part of the need, along with walking ability, this person uses a wheelchair occasionally now and will be using it more as time goes by.

The gangway is an excellent idea.


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You may want to contact the folks at Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating and see if they have any suggestions. Also found this link, New To Sailing - Advice for beginners

When you say the person has trouble walking are you talking about joint mobility issues or balance issues? What type of aid will be used, cane, crutches, walker, wheelchair? It would help to know but we don't need private info. I know many sailors with joint replacements and getting off and on the dock is indeed the biggest hurtle. Floating docks are a great help with getting off and on the boat. Maybe a gangway, modified for safety, they do come in different widths. I would second the idea about modifying the table to make a berth. It is on our to do list and we've been carting around such a pedestal under our v-berth waiting to install it! The ideas you gather could be helpful to lots of older sailors as well.
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Old 25-11-2012, 11:20   #4
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Re: Accessible Boat

No experience with this at all, though my instinct suggests having that companion hatch access not dependent on elecricity or strength, especially the exit maneuver. Counterweight & pulleys would be something I'd look at.

As for moving about below decks...considered a harness hooked onto overhead track? In some seastates (or crew-states due to ingestion of entertaining-fluids), such a thing might come in handy for the otherwise able-bodied. Actually, I'm putting it in my own design notes, such a thing might be useful for singlehandedly bruting all sorts of heavy things about, safely....batteries, pumps, e-motors, etc...
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Old 26-11-2012, 05:18   #5
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Re: Accessible Boat

I gather a multihull is not a consideration. Some of the layouts for entrance to cabins and such offer more room for maneuvering or access is simply easier. Of course there is less healing which can be a real asset in such situations.
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Old 26-11-2012, 07:06   #6
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Re: Accessible Boat

Some motor sailors seem to be well suited.
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Old 26-11-2012, 07:35   #7
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Re: Accessible Boat

Hi,

I helped at two such projects:

One was a power cat (call it a cruising trip boat) where the owner (in a wheelchair) could access the boat and run her with only most limited external help (tying up and casting the lines). There was a hydraulic crane with a remote to get onboard and two winches to lift the chair (from deck level to the bridge and from the bridge to the sidedeck.

The other was a power cat with twin 130 hp outboards. This was the fun boat and we built a ramp thru the stern to roll on / off.

Easy job and we used only commercially available components - alloy sheets, belt winches, etc..

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Old 26-11-2012, 08:17   #8
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Re: Accessible Boat

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Hi,

I helped at two such projects:

One was a power cat (call it a cruising trip boat) where the owner (in a wheelchair) could access the boat and run her with only most limited external help (tying up and casting the lines). There was a hydraulic crane with a remote to get onboard and two winches to lift the chair (from deck level to the bridge and from the bridge to the sidedeck.

The other was a power cat with twin 130 hp outboards. This was the fun boat and we built a ramp thru the stern to roll on / off.

Easy job and we used only commercially available components - alloy sheets, belt winches, etc..

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barnakiel any chance of posting photos of both or a link to photos or send them to me by PM?

Thanks,

Pat
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Old 26-11-2012, 17:33   #9
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Re: Accessible Boat

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Originally Posted by Pat Ross View Post
barnakiel any chance of posting photos of both or a link to photos or send them to me by PM?

Thanks,

Pat
Pat,

I have checked my PC now and I have already removed most project photos from last summer, but I still have some images of the ro-ro ramp. And I can share some info with you on the bigger boat project (hydraulic crane and the lifting ramps there).

PLS PM me with your email address.

b.
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Old 26-11-2012, 18:05   #10
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Re: Accessible Boat

A boat design like a lobster boat style cruiser would work, I think, where you have a large exterior cockpit that is on the same level as the interior of the boat, or at least the salon area. Some of the commercial ones now have basically an open transom that could be backed up right to a dock and you could wheel onboard with a gangway. Some of the big sailboats at the recent boat shows have a cockpit like this, though I doubt you could get far onboard in a wheel chair without significant mods. I personally think that power would be the way to go, due to lack of heel, easier controls, easier to modify, more maneuverable so you can get in close, etc.
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Old 27-11-2012, 04:29   #11
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Re: Accessible Boat

Thank you all for your excellent suggestions. This project will be interesting.
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Old 27-11-2012, 11:36   #12
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Re: Accessible Boat

We are also making our sailing life accessible. My nine year old daughter has a disability that makes her very uncoordinated. When she was smaller I could just grab her with one hand and climb up onto the boat from the dinghy or dock with the other, but she now weighs more than 80 pounds and is much too big for that.

I am trying to figure out a lot of small details:
  • Scrape and splinter proof pullover pants for sliding on her bottom from dock/pier/wharf to dinghy, sort of like cordura motorcycle pants.
  • Climbing gear on the stern arch to lift her out of the dinghy.
  • A way to get her aboard amidships, when a short chop makes the stern pound too much (probably a whisker pole with the climbing gear/handy billy on the end, but we need to make this a kit so it's quick and well thought out).
  • Extra rails and handholds in a lot of places, to box her in and make it impossible to fall sideways off the companionway, and etc.
  • Water shoes that can't be easily kicked off (ie -- not Crocks)
  • An easy on and off lifting harness (climbing gear is a bit hard to put on, since it's made to be comfortable for hours and allow more flexibility than you need for a few second lift, where some wide webbing and buckles could work better).
  • A teenager sized 'kid backpack' so that I can wear her, in case we really have no other option and must do an awkward transfer.
  • Possibly a collapsable 'beach and seriously rutted road' wheelchair. She can walk, but not as far as we can, and it would be nice in the cruising life if she can go as far as we can. The rough idea is for me to hack together something in aluminum (that salt water won't bother), and a little different from a normal wheelchair in that it'll have sturdy handles on the front and back, so we can carry her 'princess' style, with Mom and Dad porter-slaves in front of and behind her, to get the chair over bumps in the non-ADA world. My drawings are currently to use bicycle wheels, since they are easy to replace.
  • Possibly a foldable 'crane' that we can take ashore in the dinghy and setup on the edge of high piers to help pull her up, since she can't climb a ladder. So far we have a lot of drawings. This is a little out there, but something I may try to weld together and see how well it works if we ever need it.

Anyways, we are still very much in the 'lets figure this out' stage, and I'm happy to bounce ideas off of anyone that may be farther along or just have a better idea.

As far as inside the boat, we bought our current one with her in mind:
  • An inexpensive plywood interior that we can modify without making it look junky, or wrecking the resale value.
  • A swim platform and radar arch to help with dinghy transfers.
  • An aft cockpit with no accomodations underneath, to make short companionway stairs.
  • A relatively tight interior layout, where there's no room to fall far and the handholds and rails we add can usually be reached.

So most of what we are doing inside the boat is adding handholds and rails. I think our situation is a little different since we don't need a wheelchair to work inside the boat.
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Old 28-11-2012, 02:42   #13
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Re: Accessible Boat

I just watched this clip online (a rarity here in Morocco) Amos Winter: The cheap all-terrain wheelchair | Video on TED.com and was intrigued by the use of levers instead of round rims. Yes, I know Google is every where but depending on where you are sometimes different posts show up. I think this thread might be useful to a lot of people so as resources develop, could you please post them? Thanks.
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