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View Poll Results: Are marinas and docks wheelchair accessible?
Yes, all of them and everywhere! 1 5.88%
No, never! 0 0%
Yes, but only in the USA. 0 0%
Sometimes, but usually no. 16 94.12%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-06-2022, 20:24   #1
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Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

Hi! My name is Bernard and I am in my early stages of planning (my life-long dream) to buy a sail boat and to live-aboard full-time (just myself), and subsequently ocean cruise all over the world. My problem is that I am a wheelchair-bound disabled veteran (got severely wounded in Afghanistan 10 years ago); I am an amputee above the knee with spinal injuries.

I am currently looking at possibly buying a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410, since she seems to have most of the features I need on a boat, such as single hand/self-handling capability, i.e., with furling mast, self-tacking jib, electric windlass, electric winches, all controlled from the helm/cockpit by one-person, walk-in access to side decks and to walk around the boat without crossing any steps, flush deck hatches, - and no or minimum steps or door sills in the cabin/galley, berthing.

I think I could live without my wheelchairs when on the boat: I believe that with some extra grab bars around the companionway, I should be able to get up and down between the cockpit and the cabin. I also think I should be able to hop on one foot very short distances once in the cabin; on the main deck, I would just drag my rear around...

However, ashore, I will need my wheelchairs for sure. I plan to take with me a foldable manual wheelchair and a compact foldable power wheelchair.

And here is where I am asking for ideas or feedback from the cruising community…

First, do y’all think that my project to live-aboard and sail around the world by myself – being severely physically disabled – is feasible?

Second, any recommendations about how to make the sailboat more accessible and more ADA friendly?

Third, what do you recommend to use to get in and out the boat in a wheelchair? Any special ramp you have seen around?

Fourth and last, any recommendations about how and where stow the wheelchairs when sailing (like I said, I think I will need them only to get on and off the boat and when ashore – but I physically can’t carry them down below inside a cabin for storage, for instance)?

Thank you so much for any information you are willing to share.

Respectfully,

Bernard


PS: currently stuck ashore in the middle of Texas…
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Old 12-06-2022, 20:45   #2
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

This is where you want to go! Talk to these people, they can answer all your questions.
https://www.shakealegmiami.org/activ...ults/veterans/

This sounds like it was designed for you.
“ Veterans Adaptive Sailing Course (ASA): Veterans are given the opportunity to learn how to sail keelboats on Biscayne Bay. Courses start on the first Saturday of every month. This 4-week course teaches all the basic keelboat knowledge and if completed will leave with an American Sailing Association (ASA) certification of completion.”
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Old 12-06-2022, 20:56   #3
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

Not sure what happened to my last reply

If you are not set on a monohull, can I present you with the possibility of a catamaran?

I was once involved here in Miami with ‘Shake A Leg’ foundation. Created by a wheelchair bound sailor.
https://www.shakealegmiami.org/about/history/

Anyways, I think you can modify a smaller catamaran design to have one flat level for cockpit, saloon, berth so it can be wheelchair friendly.
For example one of the designers is Berndt Khoeler who has many types of catamarans that are built on plywood and epoxy/glass.
https://www.ikarus342000.com/CATpage.htm
So for example you can take the DUO800S with parallel rig, this platform can be modified so you can simplify sail handling, and be able to move from stern to bow on a level surface.
Another easy rig is the Junk rig, easy to reef.
The point is that if you extend the cockpit floor level to each hull and build your galley, head, and berths, you can go from bow to stern in a wheelchair.

https://duckworksmagazine.com/14/des.../#.Yqa09xYpC_Y

It would be cheaper and custom made for your needs, and you can invest in electrical or hydraulic gear for things like winches, steering, and anchoring
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Old 12-06-2022, 21:08   #4
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

First...welcome to the forum and thank you for your military service. If you haven't done a search yet, here are a few contacts.
https://www.disabledsailing.org/
Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors
https://www.facebook.com/BAADSSF/
https://www.ussailing.org/education/...ptive-sailing/
as you already know...nothing is impossible.
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Old 12-06-2022, 21:59   #5
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
This is where you want to go! Talk to these people, they can answer all your questions.
https://www.shakealegmiami.org/activ...ults/veterans/

This sounds like it was designed for you.
“ Veterans Adaptive Sailing Course (ASA): Veterans are given the opportunity to learn how to sail keelboats on Biscayne Bay. Courses start on the first Saturday of every month. This 4-week course teaches all the basic keelboat knowledge and if completed will leave with an American Sailing Association (ASA) certification of completion.”


Thanks for the information. However, this has nothing to do with my questions... I am not looking for a job nor for training... I already learned how to sail (yes, they were smaller boats), I already got my ASA certification, back when I was stationed in Coronado, CA...
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Old 12-06-2022, 22:00   #6
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
This is where you want to go! Talk to these people, they can answer all your questions.
https://www.shakealegmiami.org/activ...ults/veterans/

This sounds like it was designed for you.
“ Veterans Adaptive Sailing Course (ASA): Veterans are given the opportunity to learn how to sail keelboats on Biscayne Bay. Courses start on the first Saturday of every month. This 4-week course teaches all the basic keelboat knowledge and if completed will leave with an American Sailing Association (ASA) certification of completion.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
First...welcome to the forum and thank you for your military service. If you haven't done a search yet, here are a few contacts.
https://www.disabledsailing.org/
Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors
https://www.facebook.com/BAADSSF/
https://www.ussailing.org/education/...ptive-sailing/
as you already know...nothing is impossible.


Thank you for this information, I will check it out.
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Old 12-06-2022, 22:04   #7
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjn68 View Post
Thanks for the information. However, this has nothing to do with my questions... I am not looking for a job nor for training... I already learned how to sail (yes, they were smaller boats), I already got my ASA certification, back when I was stationed in Coronado, CA...
What I was trying to say is that this outfit deals with wheelchair bound people every day. I’m sure they can answer your questions better than anyone on this forum.
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Old 12-06-2022, 22:06   #8
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

[QUOTE=carlosproa;3638121]Not sure what happened to my last reply

If you are not set on a monohull, can I present you with the possibility of a catamaran?

I honestly first considered a catamaran, but changed my mind to a monohull for 3 reasons:
- There are more steps and stairs in every catamaran I have seen so far than in monohulls (which have only ONE companionway);
- Price to buy and to maintain: cats are more expensive than monohulls;
- Price at the marinas: cats have a harder time to find a dock and it'll be more expensive...

I actually like catamarans, but I am not a politician (i.e. I am not rich), therefore I choose the cheaper option...
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Old 12-06-2022, 23:12   #9
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bjn68 View Post
First, do y’all think that my project to live-aboard and sail around the world by myself – being severely physically disabled – is feasible?
I would say yes, sure, depending on the boat and your level of disability. I think we'd need to know more about what you are able to do. Upper body in good shape? Dropping yourself down through the companionway should be ok, but lifting yourself out, with bars around of course, what do you think of that?

Second, any recommendations about how to make the sailboat more accessible and more ADA friendly?
Again it depends on the boat and your upper body strength I think. There are many ways to add mechanical advantages. And there are many ways already out there for making the sails easy (or easier) to handle from the cockpit without having to leave the cockpit. And there are rigs that are inherently easier, like perhaps a junk rig. I haven't sailed one, only read about them. Or perhaps a boat like a Nonsuch with a single unstayed mast and wishbone rig.

Third, what do you recommend to use to get in and out the boat in a wheelchair? Any special ramp you have seen around?
Now this, no I haven't seen any special ramps other than the kind used for commercial tour boats.

Fourth and last, any recommendations about how and where stow the wheelchairs when sailing (like I said, I think I will need them only to get on and off the boat and when ashore – but I physically can’t carry them down below inside a cabin for storage, for instance)?
In this case I can imagine a large deck box on the stern. Now how able are you to get into and out of the chair on your own?

I think the idea of a catamaran is a good one, but I can't quite imagine how you'd stay in the chair while sailing.

A smaller boat would be much easier to get around in, and to handle, but not much room for storage.
I hope there was something in there that can help. I'd love to see a boat adapted for you, I am sure it can be done. send photos of your progress toward the boat and your adventures!

Thank you so much for any information you are willing to share.

Respectfully,

Bernard

PS: currently stuck ashore in the middle of Texas…
Best of luck!
for some reason I can't get it now but google junk rigs and Nonsuch sailboats as well as Freedom sailboats
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Old 12-06-2022, 23:19   #10
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

These guys are doing it

https://www.adventure-journal.com/20...und-the-world/

https://www.yachtingmonthly.com/crui...45089044915266
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Old 12-06-2022, 23:23   #11
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

got it to work:
https://junkrigassociation.org/photo...16677761672417
https://www.nonsuch.org/
https://sailboatdata.com/builder/freedom-yachts
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Old 13-06-2022, 03:28   #12
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

A few months ago I spent a week teaching a wheelchair bound young man to sail aboard a Corsair F 28 trimaran which is not a blue water boat. Evan’s disability is much worse than yours because of a high transaction.

I think that you could achieve your ambition but I feel that a cat is a better option.

Unfortunately we sold our tri so we are unable to offer you boat experience. I live near Shake-a-leg and they take disabled sailors sailing, they will not teach you off-shore sailing.

You need to get boat owners to take you sailing, mono and cat, the forum needs to step up, I will be happy to assist, if needed. Much can be achieved with a bosun’s chair and a pulley so do not discount cats.
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Old 13-06-2022, 03:48   #13
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

bjn68 I say go for it. We had a customer Dr Dick in the 1990's who had polio as a child and he still managed to sail a yacht. I don't remember much about the boat set up but I do remember Dick had a leather patch sewn on his pants bottom so he could drag himself around the deck. In the boatyard being the youngest I used to winch him onboard so he could do some maintenance.
There is a book written by two wheelchair bound South Africans who sailed a modified yacht to America. I can't think of the title but it was a good yarn.
Geoff in the link below is a pretty inspirational sailor.
I surveyed a custom built cat called Legless Emu that had been set up for wheelchair sailing. Everything was done on one level. But like you say unless you have deep pockets a cat might not be the best option.
Personally I wonder if you could get a boat custom built? Maybe around the 30 foot mark and then it could be modified exactly for you. I wonder if you could get a Magazine like Wooden Boat interested in people submitting designs to suit your needs. All you need is some lateral thinking and a good custom design could be achieved. I am already thinking a flat transom with lowering ramp so you could back into the dock and leave the boat that way. Cockpit wide enough for a wheel chair to turn around in, galley at a custom height for you etc. It doesn't have to be fancy and could be built out of plywood. As for resale, I bet you are not the only person in a wheelchair that wants to sail around the world.
Cheers

https://geoffholt.com/
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Old 13-06-2022, 05:52   #14
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

Greetings and belated welcome aboard the CF, Bernard.
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Old 13-06-2022, 06:05   #15
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Re: Wheelchair-bound and living-aboard, is it possible?

Have look at this too:

https://www.theimpossibledream.org/

As far as I know the boat was built by a company close to Plymouth (UK).
Design is by Darren Newton.

https://www.multihullcentre.com/dazcat-catamaran-range/
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