Best Platform for Accessible Cruising

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

  1. MastMonkey
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 92
    Likes: 3, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 43
    Location: Cali

    MastMonkey Junior Member

    One of the challenges in designing an accessible boat is to not make it so tailored to the disabled individual that it excludes everyone else. Cabin height is one example. While headroom isn't a priority, I wouldn't want to modify it to the point that only I can use it. Any boat can be modified for daysailing. I routinely sail my small monohull on San Francisco bay and though I usually have at least one crew, I am confident I can handle it myself in an emergency. The problem with sail handling is not restricted to monohulls. It can easily be as bad or worse on multihulls.

    This was the case on the few multihulls I have been on or observed. I have sailed a large catamaran that would be nearly impossible to make into an accessible cruising platform. The accomodation in the hulls are too narrow for a chair to begin with and a lift would have to be added to each hull as well. All of the sail handling is done in front of the large deck house. Conversely, I have been in smaller monohulls where down below in my chair I was very comfortable. I could wheel around easily, even when at sail, provided conditions were benign and the tack was wide enough that heel wasn't a factor. And sails were easily managed from the cockpit. In an emergency, it seemed I could scoot myself along the tow rail to the protected pulpit and get the sail down. Heel isn't completely a deal breaker either. I have noticed that on many more traditionally designed vessels, with wineglass transoms and the like and sea motion being a priority in the design, it is quite comfortable and even natural.

    The problem can be divided into two seperate ones: accessible living space and accessible sailing. Sailing is probably the easiest to adapt, though it really is dependent on the disability. I have no trouble managing the lines on my boat. The biggest issue is getting to them and mobility in the cockpit. The major exception is getting to the mast. There are a couple alternatives here. Simplicity is one key: Minimize sail handling controls. An example would be a Pirouge rig, less line handling needed. Another example would be exploring older sailing traditions. The Chinese Junk seems to make an excellent sail for a disabled sailor, though some performance is sacrificed. Reading the long thread on the Spray, I have begun to think it too is a candidate. Advances technologically also make sailing accessible. Sailing handling can be simplified with furling gear and electric winches, though this adds complexity. While I would like to sail while seated in my chair, if conditions dictate, I do not see it as a necessity.

    Living space is the largest challenge. The catamaran at first seems to have the advantage because of space on deck. But the hulls need to be wider, at least enough to accomodate a wheelchair through the passage. And a system for getting into them also devised. A mono hull can have completely accessible interior accomodations, but the distance into the hull is much greater.

    Here is a link to the video of the "Verity K." (I had the name wrong in a previous post):
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  2. MastMonkey
    Joined: Oct 2009
    Posts: 92
    Likes: 3, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 43
    Location: Cali

    MastMonkey Junior Member


    Thank you for the link to the photos of that tri. It is a beautiful boat. As shown it would be difficult to make accessible, but it seems like an alternative layout would be make it a very accomodating boat. That is sad to hear of the "Raw Faith." As stated earlier, there is a lack of large boat adaptive sailing programs in the states. This is a a definite loss.
  3. Doug Lord
    Joined: May 2009
    Posts: 16,631
    Likes: 311, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 1362
    Location: Cocoa, Florida

    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Your welcome! I posted it because it is a relatively unique design. Back about 1971 I was designing a 60' tri in my shop right next to the marina in Titusville ,FL. Had a window overlooking the basin and one day ,much to my surprise, Serena came in. She overwhelmed me and I immediately went down to introduce myself to her skipper and designer. I helped him get settled and then took him to my shop and showed him my design-this time he was overwhelmed: both boats were nearly identical! Thats how I met a lifelong friend and mentor--and I've never forgotten that first meeting -and Serena.

  4. cavalier mk2
    Joined: Mar 2010
    Posts: 2,116
    Likes: 53, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 214
    Location: Pacific NW North America

    cavalier mk2 Senior Member

    The Nicol's still have Voyager plans and some still charter today for others looking for a place to start. Dereck Kelsall even built a 48' version for a client. They were rated to carry a 12,000 lb payload and stock had 10 berths. Nice boat, it has more paneling than a mountain lodge!
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.