Able2Sail Sailing Season 2019-20
A story by able2sail
We took young people and their families for a mixture of half day sails, day sails on a modified sailing yacht. In consultation with youth forum members we will tailor a programme leading to RYA certification including 2/3 day sails.
What Able2Sail Sailing Season 2019-20 did
Season 2019 was incredibly successful. We took over 110 young people and their families out for sailing trips of various lengths depending on what the young person and family wanted. Most trips were at the weekend with some trips also through the week. The trips were on the Clyde starting at Kip Marina.
We also had dinghy sailing taking place at Castle Semple ClydeMuirsheil Park. This led to able2sail putting forward a team which represented Great Britain at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi, where they won a Bronze medal, Fifth and Sixth place medals. Our overnight sails with our Youth Forum continue to be a highlight for our young people.
We worked closely with Social Work Departments from several Local Authorities to identify young people who would benefit from sails. We also had an increase in self-referrals from people who had heard of us from friends who had sailed with us. Our volunteer team also identified young people and their families to come sailing with us.
We have adapted the yacht to make access easier by using an electric hoist, we have specialist seating, an audio compass and joystick to make sailing as interactive as possible.
We continued to attract highly motivated volunteers and our training on the boat was supplemented by Disability Awareness Training (RYA Certificated) from our 2 Trainers.
The only Better Breaks priority area we are not able to address is for under 5s We were contacted by the Children’s Hospice in Balloch and after a lot of planning were able to take out one young man, his mum and specialist nurse for a very exciting sail in glorious sunshine
What able2sail has learned
We are obviously constrained by the weather. We therefore build in contingency days which can be used if we have had to cancel a sail. It is also very useful to have a bank of families who can come at short notice due to the cancellation of a sail. We are ever grateful to our bank of volunteer who can make themselves available at very short notice if we have call offs. In season 2019 – 20 we experienced some unforeseen expenses due to gear box and propeller issues.
Prudent management of our finances ensured that we were able to get these issues dealt with speedily and get the boat back on the water. This was also facilitated by good working relationships with the Marina and staff. Targeting families in most need of support
We work well with Social Work departments in many Local Authorities and Additional Support Needs Schools. The relationship built up over many years ensures that we reach the most needy families. We continue to forge new partnerships to widen our reach. In 2019 The Children’s Hospice in Balloch contacted us regarding a sail.
We arranged to take the boat to another Marina in order that they would not have to drive too far. This meant that the volunteers had to go to the boat earlier than usual and motor up the Clyde to Rhu. The Marina there was wonderful and welcoming and allowed us to put up balloons and banners for the young person. This is a partnership which will continue. We have aso been contacted by the Duke of Edinburgh Award co-ordinator to offer sails again for Additional Support Needs schools.
Dealing with unexpected challenges or opportunities, we had arranged through our local MSP to request a display at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. There was a lot of planning involved and security checks for the volunteers who would be manning the stall. This took place in March 2019 as our young people were going to represent their country The reception we received was incredibly positive by all. Many MSPs videoed themselves wishing our young people luck – these messages were sent to Team Sailing GB – they loved it. This was an amazing opportunity to showcase our work.
How able2sail has benefitted from the funding
As a result of the Better Breaks Funding able2sail has gone from strength to strength and its reputation as a sailing provider has been enhanced. Many calls have been received from people who have heard about us from local Marinas and indeed from the RYA Headquarters in Southampton. This has meant an increase in number of sails due to an increase in volunteers which of course has benefited families. Also due to the funding from Better Breaks we were able to secure some extra funding which have been earmarked for our new more specifically modified yacht. The new yacht has the capacity for people to come on board from the back of the yacht and stay in their wheelchair (if required) on the yacht. They will still be able to help drive the yacht through the use of a joystick mechanism
110 young people will have had a sail on Able2sail yacht. 10 young people will have experienced success in dinghy sailing and power boating 6 young people will have had sails of 3 days with 2 overnights Participation in Regattas as appropriate to the Youth Forum members
A very successful season with weekday sailing extending our sailing target and allowing more opportunities when sails had to be cancelled due to inclement weather. The young people in the Youth Forum decided to concentrate on dinghy sailing and racing skills. As usual the 3 day sails were popular with the young people, their families and the volunteers and allowed visits further up the Clyde
As a result of their success at the Sheffield Special Olympics where our sailors represented Scotland West, we were delighted that they were chosen as Team GB Sailing for the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Prior to their leaving for the Games some of the team spoke to their peers in their schools about their journey to becoming Special Olympians. They were recognised by their Local Authorities in many ways for their achievement. Able2sail ran a Good Luck Ceremony prior to their leaving with volunteers and extended families wishing them all the best for the Games. They were presented with Good Luck books which had messages from Teachers, friends and families which they could take to the Games and ask new friends from many countries to sign. The Team left Glasgow and traveled to London before first heading to Dubai and then on to Abu Dhabi. They were hosted at a special event with the rest of Team GB in London. In Dubai, our sailors were lucky to have specialist cultural events organised including visits to schools to meet young people. The hospitality for the week was exceptional and a taste of things to come. Several of the families traveled out to meet their young people although they would not be in the same accommodation as the Olympians were staying together in the Olympic Village. Team GB had organised that the young people would have “special” badges/pins that they could swop with new international friends. The Opening Ceremony was lavish and our young people were not phased at all with the number of people cheering them on and wishing all the best. One of our team (who is a little shy) was videoed dancing in the isles as the night continued. They met lots of other young people from many countries. Sadly the wind was uncharacteristically strong for several days which resulted in the team not sailing as much as planned. This was unfortunate as the Team had to get used to different boats. At last the trials took place and our team was put into 3 divisions. They all raced and were skilled enough to get a Bronze medal and a Fourth and Fifth place. The young people had a wonderful time exploring Abu Dhabi, meeting lots of new friends, taking photos and videos with their new friends which they sent to us back in Scotland. Their experiences as Olympians is a great achievement and something to be built upon. Our Youth Forum has decided to focus on dinghy sailing and have been chosen to represent Scotland West at the Special Olympics in Liverpool – they hope to be picked for the next World Games in Berlin in 2023 to represent their country.
10 young people will undertake a personalised programme to increase their sailing skills and achieve accreditation. This will in turn lead to increase self-confidence 100 Families will enjoy the time spent on the yacht or have the space to prioritise their free time by delegating another carer
The young people set their own targets in conjunction with the Youth Forum Co-ordinator and specialist Instructors at Castle Semple. As well as Sailability certification they have medals from the Special Olympics. Sailing trips are organised prior to the day so they carers know what to expect and for able2sail to have any specialist equipment e.g. hoist ready for the families as soon as they arrive. The carers are advised via the website and through detail phone conversations exactly what they should bring if for example a specialist diet is required. Again we found that the parents/carers want to accompany their young people on the sailing experience. The volunteer crew encourage all to be part of the sailing experience - "driving " the yacht, helping with the sails, keeping look out for interesting sea animals. The families are asked to evaluate their sailing experience and the results are all positive and they report that they slept well as a result of their sails
Robbie heard about able2sail from school friends and was anxious to join the Youth Forum. He was keen to learn as much as possible and gain a place on the competition team. He started out on the Sailability awards and with a lot of determination and support gained not only these but a Competent Crew award. This is quite an achievement for Robbie. He has attended Schools for children/ young people with Additional Support Needs for all of his education. He has a learning disability and can become very frustrated which can lead to some challenging behavior. All instructions need to be given to Robbie in small chunks and reinforced to ensure he fully understands. A lot of time was spent with Robbie both on and off the water to ensure that he gained the awards. It was also explained to him that he had to monitor his behavior as Health and Safety of all was paramount. It was explained that able2sail expected that both on and off the water challenging behaviour would put his sailing with us in jeopardy. Robbie rose to the challenge as the goal of achieving at sailing was his dream. His parents who were very supportive of able2sail reported that in the house he was managing his temper better and this made family life slightly better.
10 families will have increased time when they know their young person is involved in safe and productive activities. The families of 100 young people will have the opportunity to either join their son/daughter in a social, sports activity or nominate another carer to do so.
The Youth Forum Co-ordinator continues to work her magic – organising the dinghy sails with Clyde Muirsheil Sailing Centre, arranging transport for the young people, arranging her own work pattern to facilitate the sails. Families know well the volunteers who pick up the young people and accompany them in their sailing. The families are given the opportunity of either coming themselves on the sail or arranging for other carers. We are delighted that on the whole families choose to accompany their young people and bring the rest of their family on the day. They report back on very positive experiences and request further sails.
After hearing about able2sail from other families and Occupational Therapist, Sue contact us regarding a sail for her son Calum. Calum is 12 years of age and has quite complex needs. He is a wheelchair user and has little language. Mum was quite anxious about the whole experience despite having been in the Navy herself. A date was set for Calum and mum to come on board the boat was readied with the electric hoist and the specialist seating ready for the sail. The Skipper and crew were made aware that for Calum the day would focus on his experiences – the wind, rain/ sun, the interaction with the volunteers. Mum and Calum were made comfortable on the yacht. It was not the best of days with a drizzle most of the sail, however both mum and Calum had wet weather gear on. Mum took the wheel to “drive” the yacht – this was her first time of sailing a yacht. She loved it and was very comfortable and competent in her driving. They sailed over towards Bute and porpoises were seen and pointed out to Calum. Due to the weather it was quite a quiet day on the water – only really the ferries were out. A lot of laughter and banter made mum and Calum feel as if they had known the crew longer than the sail. The day passed quickly and soon it was time to head home. Mum contacted able2sail that evening raving about the day they had had and posted a very positive report on their Facebook page. Mum also told us that she had been on night shift prior to coming on the sail so had been up for many hours. She was excited to come back for another sail with Calum
Families from previous seasons will request further sailing opportunities. Positive conversations with volunteers. Roll out of RYA Disability Awareness Training. Increased self-confidence as a result of repeat sails – consolidating skills learnt. Use of Whatsapp for families of competition team
We continue to get requests for sails from individual families who have been out with us or who have heard about us from other families. We are also receiving requests from families who have heard about us from their local marinas. The Disability Awareness Training was well received by the volunteers – the content is now much more appropriate than previously. They also welcomed spending their free time engaged with other volunteers. The young people in the Youth Forum really benefited from the extra dinghy sailing and their confidence just grew and grew. The Whatsapp conversations proved very popular with lots of lovely stories and photographs/ videos. It was particularly important to families when their young people were abroad
2 of our competition team were under 20 when they represented their country at the Special Olympics. They were supported throughout the event by our volunteers Unified Partners who accompany the athletes on the water. The Unified Partners are allowed to do part of the sailing but the main tasks involving the sails and the lines are completed by the athletes. One family went out to Abu Dhabi with all their children to attend the Special Olympics and support their young man. The young man helped and mentored the other young person and they were frequently seeking each other’s company for talks and laughs, especially on the days when the sailing wasn’t able to take place due to high winds. They spent the time successfully and were a credit to themselves and their families and of course to Team GB. The other young man’s mum was not able to attend the Special Olympics but through the Whatsapp was able to see her son at the Opening Ceremony and throughout his time abroad. He has a learning disability and some physical disabilities which require management by him. He was independent in his self-care throughout the trip. His mum was very proud of him throughout. At the Awards Ceremony, both young men were seen talking not only to other young people but also to other families and friends. Volunteers commented how much the young people had grown in confidence since the previous year