Every summer when the weather is nice I like to go for a spot of accessible sailing at Hykeham Sailing Club in Lincolnshire.
Hykeham sailing club is situated on the shore of Apex Lake in North Hykeham, Lincoln, which is a former gravel pit.
They have a number of Hansa access dinghies which are designed for use by people with limited mobility. They also have an accessible pontoon with hoists to transfer people into the boats.
Hykeham Sailability run sailing sessions at the club for disabled people every Friday afternoon from 13:00 to 15:30. Sessions run from May until October.
This was the first time I had been sailing this year as a lot of the previous Fridays it had been raining or the wind was too strong so I didn’t go.
There are 2 types of boats, one is a single-seater and the other is a 2 seater. They have a kind of deckchair seat with a joystick in the middle for steering the rudder.
I like sailing on my own as it’s more satisfying to do it independently.
It was a beautiful day this past Friday. Warm sunshine, blue skies, and light winds – perfect for sailing.
After I got my lifejacket on I was then hoisted into the boat. I have a plastic seat behind me so that I can sit up straighter. Otherwise, I have to sail around staring up at the sky which is not ideal for obvious reasons.
My first attempt at sailing away from the pontoon was not exactly successful. My lifejacket wasn’t down far enough so I couldn’t lift my head up properly. As a result, it was hard to steer and I ended up slowly drifting towards the opposite bank and eventually collided with it.
The safety boat soon came and got me and towed me back to the pontoon.
After my lifejacket was pulled down and got into a comfortable position I was ready to try again. This time it was more successful.
I began drifting steadily away from the pontoon, in the right direction this time! I headed for the centre of the lake and waited for the wind to get caught in the sails.
The breeze was quite light that day but every now and then the sails would catch a gust of wind and propel the boat forward.
Sometimes the wind causes the boat to lean over to the side which is a bit nerve-wracking. It makes me think I’m about to capsize! I try to quickly change direction when that happens to make it go upright again.
I haven’t ended up in the drink yet, so long may that continue.
Apparently, the Hansa access dinghies have a heavier keel which makes them more stable and harder to capsize. So that gives me confidence.
I stayed out on the lake for half an hour before slowly heading back to the pontoon.
If you are a disabled person in Lincolnshire and you would like to try out accessible sailing for yourself then why not come down to Hykeham sailing club sometime. But it’s best to check via the Facebook group when sailing is running before you come down as it depends on the weather each week.
Thank you for reading! Before you go you might also be interested in some of these other posts: