Best Platform for Accessible Cruising

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by MastMonkey, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. MastMonkey
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    MastMonkey Junior Member

    If you were designing a boat from scratch for a disabled, wheelchair using, client on which to cruise, which platform would you tend toward and why? Catamaran?Trimaran? Mono? Proa?

    I am basing the question on my own needs. I hope one day to have an accessible cruising boat, but in my experience sailing and observing many types of boats around my marina and at a couple of boat shows I have come to the conclusion that I would have to build my own or make extensive modification, as I have done with my current boat.

    I used to think a multihull was the best option, but now that I have had a chance to sail on a couple, I am not so sure. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages. I will try to summarize briefly and then I would appreciate your considered opinions.

    With a monohull, heel is the worst disadvantage. Because many disabled individuals have compromised balance, it is a disconcerting feeling, and the need to steady oneself with a hand severly restricts ability. On my tiller controlled monohull it is difficult for me to balance the load on the rudder with one arm, manage the mainsheet with the other, and steady my balance with either. I use a should harness to help but still have issues sliding off the seat. The second disadvantages is attending to the sails, lines led aft provide some assistance, but when there is a need to get forward the cabin is inevitably a cumbersone obstacle, greatly restricting my motion.

    As stated, I had always believed a catamaran to be the best option, though I had only some experience on multihulls. The stable platform is perfect for a wheelchair user, but the narrowness of the hulls, even on large boats, makes most accomodations inaccessible. Sail handling is also a major issue. On the catamarans I have been on, I so no feasible way for me to get to the mast in an emergency, both were boats with large deck structures.

    A trimaran seems to solve both problems. Heeling is minimized and accomodations may be comparable to a monohull, but I do not have enough experience to make any conclusions.

    I have seen amzing examples of all types that are accessible. There is one catamaran I remember with deck space designed for the wheelchair using owner to completely maneuver around the boat and the Disable Sailing Association in the UK has a large cruising monohull that is wheelchair accessible. So another criteria becomes cost.

    Size is beneficial to accomodate wider passages, doors, head, and deck space.
    Easy sail handling is a must, so I would tend toward multimast. Performance isn't a major requirement either. I am comfortable with lackluster upwind performance. I seldom sail as close to the wind as my boat can to keep at an angle of heel comfortable to me. Also, free standing mast would be preferable, though not a requirement. On many of the boats I have sailed on, the rigging is almost always limiting maneuverability on deck.

    I have been thinking lately that a multihull is a good choice still, but a monohull may have advantage I hadn't considered. Perhaps a beamy hull motorsailer is a good option?

    Thank you all.
     
  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Many years ago there was a paraplegic solo sailor that circumnavigated. He set his monohul with rails to move around.
     
  3. 4sail
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    4sail Junior Member

    I looked into this a few years ago for my Dad who was also "in the same boat" as yourself. True, not much out there (either mono or multi) that will address all concerns. One design I found interesting is the Jim Antrim catamaran design "Tristan Jones" (http://www.antrimdesign.com/catamarans/baads/index.html). Designed in conjuction with the Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors, it has wheelchair access to sail controls and the mast. Though probably larger than what you require, it does show the possibilities.
     
  4. cardsinplay
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    cardsinplay da Vinci Group

    I'm sure you know that the Internet is full of information on this very topic and Google is your friend in that adventure.

    My favorite reference to wheelchair accessibility, catamarans and big dreamer style challenges is about Geoff Holt. http://geoffholt.com/ He's the guy who sailed solo across the Atlantic on the Impossible Dream catamaran to great public acclaim.

    There's info on his voyage at his site. Info about the boat is here:http://www.impossibledream.org.uk/index.html
     

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  5. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Accesible Cruising boat

    If I was starting from scratch I think I might go for a trimaran similar to my friends 60' Serena modified for access as necessary:

    PS-Serena as charter boat-pix of interior and layout: http://1cyc.com/catamaran/grandoasis/
     

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  6. cardsinplay
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    cardsinplay da Vinci Group


    Uhhh, Doug, did you bother to read the posts before putting this out there?

    The Antrim boat was covered in Post #3 by 4sail.
     
  7. cardsinplay
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    cardsinplay da Vinci Group

    Unless you are willing to put all three hulls of a trimaran in the water at rest in flat conditions, you will see a bit greater heeling on a tri than on a typical cruising cat. If you look back at trimaran design to the early days of the form in this modern era... the boats back then did have all their hulls immersed to some degree and they did sail flatter than monos by a bunch, but still not quite as flat as a big cat.

    It's complex problem, the one you are looking to solve and there isn't going to be a set, easily understood, answer as a result of the over-riding needs you propose. Additionally, there has not been a ton of design devlopment in this area and while there are design solutions out there, they may be specific to each individual who asked for a boat for their personal interests. As a result, I would suggest that you make a very pointed list of the attributes you seek. Weight them as to importance for your particular sailing capabilities. Then, start looking for a design solution that might be easily adapted, or serve as a jumping-off point for the kinds of modifications you seek. The same decision making process will serve you well should you look to engage a particular designer.
     
  8. MastMonkey
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    MastMonkey Junior Member

    Thank you all for the replys. The "Impossible Dream" boat was the one I was thinking of. It is a shame they do not show more of the accomodations and cabin space in the pictures on the website. I would like to imagine how well it works as a cruising boat. It says it has crossed the Atlantic twice so they must be accessible and in the construction photos each hull is obviously big enough to accomodate a wheelchair, but I am curious what it looks like. It is a shame the states do not have the level of disabled sailing participation that the UK has. The two best example of accessible boats I have seen are the "Impossible Dream" cat and also the "Veritas K," a wheelchair accessible monohull that I found very impressive. Seeing a video of it on Youtube made me begin to rethink my committment to a multihull cruising platform. I want to be realistic and I think the custom multihull may be too expensive.

    I knew of the Antrim cat and BAADS, but it seme to me like a day sailor, which is much what BAADS is all about. Daysailing doesnt begin to compare to the difficulties of "living" on a boat.

    Doug, that trimaran is fascinating. I have not seen it before, thank ou for brining it to my attention . The one thing I dislike about it though is that the cabin makes getting to the mast difficult. I am cautious about such things, and want to be completely capable off acting in any emergency.

    Costwise how do you think each would compare?
     
  9. cavalier mk2
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    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    I think you should look at a older ply and glass tri as it will be inexpensive to buy and easy to modify so you can access the areas you need to. A Jim Brown Searunner with a center cockpit might be a good place to start. A Piver sails fairly level as does our Nicol, 10 degrees heel is pushing hard. A Piver Ketch could be modified to have a runway to both masts and ramps or lifts to the cabin. Even a 40' Victress is a affordable boat. There is a 36' Nicol Cavalier ketch in Texas for about 23,000 it has a wide center hull with plenty of room for a chair but the cambered decks might be an issue. For smaller boats with room also consider the Piver Herald. Cost wise boats like these will give you the most boat for your money and will be easy to modify for people with carpentry skills.
     
  10. cavalier mk2
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    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    Serena bears an uncanny resemblance to a Nicol Voyager, modified but not 60' long.
     
  11. wheels
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    wheels Junior Member

    Hello,
    Im a wheelchair user (motorcycle accident). I've spent the last year or so reading everything I can about design and what would work for me personally.

    One of the major issues of course is heal. The easiest solution for that is to use a catamaran design. But only once you start getting up into larger sized boats that don't depend on the sailor hanging their bodyweight over the side as ballast. Once you get up to that size boat you have to look at the strength balance and overall physical ability of the disabled person. Do they have the upper body strength to hoist sails or do they need electric winches. Will they be sailing with crew or by themselves.

    If they are looking for a daysailer a mono can be fine if not more fun. Are they willing to get wet? Or are they looking to cross oceans? Designing for a disabled or wheelchair bound client will start just like any other job. Hopefully with a clearly written and discussed SOR.

    My personal dream right now is constantly evolving. It currently looks very similar to an open40 with canting keel. A huge part of your design will not just be how much you can adapt the boat to your client but how much your client can adapt to the boat.

    The paraplegic that sailed round Australia didn't sit in his chair when up on deck. The Impossible Dream above is an awesome example of a well thought out design. Out of the hundred or so wheelchair users I know personally, none could come anywhere close to affording one.

    I guess in conclusion I would say start with your normal set of questions. What do you expect the boat to do. How far? What weather conditions? Etc.. Then add on: what are your physical limitations? Can they transfer from surface to surface without assistance? How is their balance? Try to get them on board something similar to what you are proposing as it may be as simple as adding a seatbelt and a stainless steel grab bar like you find in the restroom to make it work. You may have to rearrange the ropes so they are all reachable from one point or you might have to put everything on electric winches.

    When it comes to designing for the disabled you can be sure of one thing and one thing only, "One size does not fit all"

    I hope I've helped more than I've confused. If you have any questions please feel free to send me a message or ask them here.

    Good luck

    Will
     
  12. cavalier mk2
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    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    Hi wheels, a monohull with the cockpit and interior cabin modified along the idea of a gimballed/ballasted drum might be a less expensive retro-fit. It would take care of the heel anyway and you could use the existing hull, deck and rig.
     
  13. wheels
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    wheels Junior Member

    Hey mk2,

    The only thing I keep running into with using existing designs is that while you can make the interior accessible it's the exterior that is a pain. How do you get a wheelchair that is 26-30 inches wide up to the forestay when your roller furled spin. jams. One option is you suck it up and scoot your *** across 35' of deck and fix it. For someone less abled that may not be an option so the need a deck that will accommodate the chair and a lift or ramp of some sort to get them up to that level.

    That's what I meant about assessing the physical ability of the client. I love going deep sea fishing on a 50' trawler out of bodega bay. I've never had a problem with the motion or heal even sitting there bobbing like a cork in 10-15 foot seas with 45+ degrees of heal on the way back in. If there was an emergency I would be able to scoot up to the bow of the ship relatively quick but my wheelchair would have to stay behind as there is only 18 inches between the cabin and rail. but a lesser abled person would be screwed. Heel is important but it's only one of many factors you need to evaluate.
     
  14. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Accessible design---sad story

    From Scuttlebutt tonight-a sad ending:

    SAD STORY
    An 88-foot sailing ship designed for wheelchair-bound sailors sank Wednesday
    morning off the coast of Massachusetts, a day after two men were rescued in
    a dramatic scene straight out of Hollywood, a U.S. Coast Guard rescue
    swimmer told FoxNews.com. The vessel, Raw Faith, sank 166 miles southeast of
    Nantucket, Petty Officer Connie Terrell told FoxNews.com. She said the water
    there is 6,000-feet deep and the ship is not considered to be a hazard.

    Coast Guard officials received an emergency position-locating beacon signal
    from the vessel on Monday after the Raw Faith departed Salem, Mass., en
    route to Bermuda. A Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued two men from the
    ship on Tuesday afternoon and brought them back to Air Station Cape Cod in
    Bourne, Mass., officials said.

    Two Coast Guard cutters were diverted to assist the vessel, which
    encountered waves up to 15 feet and winds of up to 30 knots. After weather
    conditions prevented the Coast Guard from delivering additional safety gear,
    both members of the crew abandoned the vessel and were later hoisted aboard
    an MH-60 helicopter.

    Randall Rice, a 17-year Coast Guard veteran, said waves up to 25 feet and
    wind gusts reaching 50 mph contributed to precarious and potentially
    life-threatening conditions as he saved the ship's captain, George McKay,
    and another man who was not immediately identified. "She was getting hit by
    some pretty hard waves, like 25-footers," Rice said. "I just went, 'Wow.' I
    was pretty impressed by it. If you've ever seen the 'Pirates of the
    Caribbean,' that's exactly what it looked like. It was a really rough ride."

    Rice said the ship had taken on about two feet of water by the time the
    Coast Guard arrived. Following the rescue, Rice said he immediately saw the
    "uncertainty" in McKay's face. "It's like he lost his house, it's pretty
    much the same thing," Rice said. "Emotionally, as we were flying back, I
    could definitely see it in his face. It's just uncertainty." According to
    the ship's website, Raw Faith, which was launched in 2003, was designed and
    built by McKay to be wheelchair accessible.
    -- Full story:
    http://tinyurl.com/FN-120810
     

  15. cavalier mk2
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    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    You have the advantage of not needing a lot of headroom. I'd make a pathway/channel right through the center of the cabin top to the mast. You still have 5' of headroom in the cabin. The ramp either goes up to the mast passage or down to the cabin.The foredeck could be accessed from the cabin trench but a bow hatch lift makes more sense. The forepeak wouldn't be gimbaled but would have a watertight door, the floor would be best above the waterline but could be set up with a pump. The idea is the lift goes up to the bow and your lower body stays below the hatch opening level helping to minimize the opening.. In truth it makes the most sense to consider a cat rig where you don't have to go all the way forward. Some might want to consider a lower scooter platform on tracks they could belt to and run on the side decks like a rail way. Call it your fighting chair and have a back and pivot. It would be safe on deck and in the cockpit and open up hanging out on the rail or bow. your big chair could park in the cockpit for use below. A wheel chair that the seat pivots on would be helpful as well down below and onshore.
     
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