Fishbourne Sailability delighted with brand new wheelchair-accessible vessel named Dougal

Fishbourne Sailability Club (FSC) officially launched its new wheelchair accessible boat on Saturday 25th April with an official naming ceremony held at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club (RVYC) and a heartfelt speech by Geoff Holt, the first disabled sailor to circumnavigate the UK single-handed.

Mrs Gay Edwards, High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight, presided over the cutting of the ribbon and ‘wetting of the bow’ naming the boat ‘Dougal’.

Photo caption: Preparing for maiden voyage of Fishbourne Sailability’s new wheelchair accessible boat, Dougal. From left Brian Gay, Commodore FSC, Geoff Holt at the 2nd helm, Ben Hopkins, Bosun, Gay Edwards and Steve Warren Smith, Commodore RVYC

Geoff Holt spoke at the ceremony: “Wheelchair accessible powerboats are few and far between. I was delighted to hear that Fishbourne Sailability had identified this need but amazed that they had come up with the idea, raised the funds and launched the boat all within 8 months, quite extraordinary, it’s a real testament to all the hard work of the volunteers at the club.”

Fishbourne Sailability Club was founded in 2002 to enable people with disabilities to enjoy water based activities in both sailing and motor boats.

The RO-RO project was started last year to identify and purchase a motor boat suitable for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.

Six different boats were considered and, following extensive research, a shortlist of just two boats was drawn up. These were a modified NAB 23 Dory and a Redbus catamaran. Trials were conducted at Fishbourne with wheelchair users from the Club and the Redbus chosen unanimously for reasons of ease of access, stability and working space.