At Sea with Torbay's Disabled Sailing Association

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(Last Updated On: October 6, 2018)

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New Freedom berthed in the bay!

While taking the ferry from Torquay to Brixham or Dartmouth is always enjoyable, there’s something truly special about sailing out in the bay, as I discovered a while back, out with the Disabled Sailing Association and a crew of Combe Pafford students.

The Disabled Sailing Association (DSA), non-profit making and run for the disabled by the disabled with support from able-bodied volunteers from the community, gives people with a disability, along with their family and carers, the opportunity to enjoy the experience of seagoing sailing.

Now, they’re delighted to announce, their new boat, Freedom, is home and on her berth in Torquay Harbour.

Two and a half years ago it was getting to the point where the DSA’s original boat Freedom was of an age where her replacement needed serious consideration – and, luckily, she was at the point where she could most viably be sold. The organisation began some active forward planning and, having considered a range of similar boats, a Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 was the right choice. In length she was just another 4’ longer, but her beam was considerably wider at nearly 4 metres – a huge advantage to those of limited mobility, with more deck space for wheelchairs, as well as being roomier below. For all that, the Harbour Master agreed that the DSA could berth her in the same place.

‘All we needed to do was raise the money,’ says Dave Musgrove, the DSA’s chairman.The total cost of new Freedom, including various adaptations for their Members, would be £134,000 but months and months of painstaking fundraising efforts finally paid off. ‘Unbelievably,’ they say, ‘it all gradually mounted up to make the dream come true. Whatever the size of the gift, we couldn’t be more grateful to all our wonderful benefactors for their kindness.’

When, after all that time and effort, Dave and his team arrived at Hamble to collect the new Freedom, it was a special moment. ‘She was gleaming in the sunshine,’ they tell us, ‘pristine white fenders on her port side, her name on her stern, and to us looking utterly beautiful.’

‘I just can’t believe that we’ve have completed the journey from the inception of the idea of buying a new boat to the culmination of the huge fund raising effort,’ Dave adds, ‘without the help of lottery or any other major national supporters, and now actually have our new Freedom home with us. The journey home to Torbay was fantastic. A brilliant sail, and a great team effort from everyone on board. I can’t wait till our Skippers have gone through the familiarisation process and Freedom is commissioned into full service early March next year. Thank you to all those who have supported us – it has been an outstanding effort and a massive achievement. I’m so proud of our organisation.’

For more information about The Disabled Sailing Association, including how you can help by donating, or how you can sail with them as a disabled member or a volunteer, and to read a much fuller account of the story behind acquiring and sailing Freedom home, you can visit their website http://www.disabledsailingassociation.org.uk.

Bob Jope HEALTHWATCH TORBAY

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(Author)

Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!