Cowes Sailability Club has launched an appeal for funding and support to enable it to offer more boating opportunities for people with disabilities

Cowes Sailability Club has launched an appeal for funding to help it purchase a motor boat, specially adapted to cater for people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs.  The new vessel, which will be built on the Isle of Wight, will enable the club to offer many more boating opportunities for adults and children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and debilitating, long-term medical conditions. 

“Cowes Sailability Club has been offering a range of recreational sailing and boating opportunities for people with disabilities and their families for over fifteen years,” says the club’s Commodore, Paul Wilks.  “The experience of being on the water can help people to overcome their challenges, feel capable, learn new skills, grow in confidence and stave off loneliness.  With the acquisition of a new motor boat, we will be able to help many more disadvantaged people on the Isle of Wight to get outdoors and improve their well-being.”

The club has also appealed for Island residents to come forwards who are qualified to drive powerboats and hold a commercial endorsement – or who are interested in gaining the necessary certifications.  “There is huge demand on the Isle of Wight for activities that are truly accessible to everyone, no matter what their disability or illness,” says Patrick de Peyer, who is heading up the project on behalf of Cowes Sailability Club.  “Once we get our new boat, we want to be able to run as many trips in a week as possible and, to do this, we need to recruit more volunteers with the relevant powerboating skills and qualifications.  If you think you could help – or if you know someone who might – please get in touch.  By donating a few hours of your time each week, you could really make a big difference to the lives of people with disabilities on the Isle of Wight.”

The new boat is needed urgently to replace Cowes Sailability Club’s previous wheelchair-accessible motor boat, which has now been taken out of service.   The club plans to raise the £100,000 needed to purchase a catamaran from Cheetah Marine in Ventnor, capable of accommodating ten passengers, with a side access for wheelchairs and a duel helm, allowing people with disabilities to get involved in steering the vessel. 

“With this new boat, adults and children with disabilities on the Isle of Wight will be able to be active participants in a boating activity, rather than simply passengers,” says Cowes Sailability Club’s Fundraising Officer, Trish Rooke.  “Everyone, including those in wheelchairs, will have the opportunity to steer the vessel and learn seamanship, alongside their peers, friends and families, improving their self-esteem and increasing their confidence.  Please help us, if you can.”

To make an online donation, visit www.cowessailability.co.uk/donate