At a Fleet 5 Business Meeting in November, 2006, the organization voted to join and support Sail Connecticut Access, a not-for-profit volunteer group founded in 1989 to offer persons with special needs the opportunity to enjoy sailing as active participants, and to encourage people with and without special needs to share the experience.
John and Linda Reilly attended one of their Board meetings, and the request for our assistance included a "Grille Day" on one of their four annual 'Member Sailing Days.' They were excited that Fleet 5 agreed to join as an organization. This day includes
supplying the food for the cookout, cooking, serving and clean up. We arrive around 10 AM and by 2 or 3 PM the day for us is finished.
SCAP owns two Freedom 20ft. boats, and one 23ft Pearson. The Freedoms, built by Catalina, are especially equipped and adapted for disabled sailing, and allow challenged sailors to steer and handle sails in a hands-on way. Seats are designed to safely hold two wheelchair clients, or can be removed to allow more able-bodied clients to sit. Sailing instructors and volunteer skippers and mates assist the clients.
Pilots Point Marina, under the direction of Rives Potts, donates three slips, dock space, and a picnic area where members of SCAP can meet, eat, and get ready for their sailing adventure.
Wheelchair bound clients are lifted aboard with the assistance of a Hoyer Lift. Once everyone is on board and wearing lifejackets, the "skipper" and mate leave the dock with up to six persons.
Many of the clients arrive for our "Grille Day" with a family member or a facility aide. Family members and aides often accompany their friends on the hour-long sail.
Some clients enjoy working the lines, while others are experienced sailors who are able to take the tiller! There is a national organization that runs Freedom boat races out of Newport and Chicago. One CT young woman described her recent experience in Chicago where she skippered a boat and took 5th Place:
"The laughter and chatter about the wind and waves often makes us smile as we realize that many would never have had this experience that we all love --- to sail into the wind and feel free."
This year we will again host the Member sailing day. Please contact John or Linda if you can join us. Call 203-387-1051 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This program operates seven days with three paid staff and "many volunteers." Sailing is available Tuesday through Sunday. SCAP may be contacted at their website: sailctaccess.org or 860-664-9395 or email: email@example.com. They are always looking for volunteers, skippers, and crew.
"A little give back goes more than a long way."
Fondly, John and Linda Reilly