Rivertime Accessible Boating

Providing opportunities for young people attending SEN schools and other

people with disabilities to take part in small boats.

In 2014 founders Pat and Simon Davis realised that a next step was needed to allow less able people to have ‘hands-on’ experience in various watercrafts and so a partnership with Bisham Abbey Sailing & Navigation School (BASNS) was created, initially with the purchase of ‘Rivertime 2’, a specially designed Wheelyboat.

This allows wheelchair users to easily access a powerboat and take the helm. Two bell boats were then acquired, (along with a powered safety boat) and two weeks of sailing school time per annum was designated for groups of SEN School children (two groups each day) to experience time in catamarans, in company with their carers (when appropriate).

Shore- side support during these weeks is provided by volunteers from the local community. A specially adapted hoist allows transfer from a wheelchair into the boat.

The operation was extended in 2017 to allow disabled people to attend Bisham Abbey on Sundays when the Wheelyboat is available for their use along with a number of sailing dinghies; and with the support of volunteer coaches, safety boat etc.

Aims 

To provide an opportunity for young people attending SEN Schools and other people with disabilities to take advantage of ten days of bell boating sessions and Sunday club meetings made possible by fully trained and certified personnel in accordance with the governance and licencing of the Royal Yachting Association and in accordance with the mission vision and values of Rivertime Boat Trust:

  • The provision of 3 bell boats for disabled young people from SEN Schools and other disability charities to enjoy
  • The provision of a wheelyboat for people in wheelchairs and for the specific purpose of training and use by disabled young people and their families
  • The provision of sailing dinghies for disabled people to enjoy the experience of sailing
  • The provision of volunteer helpers for the various requirements (safety boat and sailing instruction etc.) to enable wheelchair users, sometimes with a carer or a family member to use the crafts according to their needs
  • The provision of a safety boat to support the operation of the bell boats

Outcomes

An opportunity for disabled people to enjoy boating experiences with others on a regular basis:
 

  • Every year 350 young people with disabilities enjoy group bell boating (1,400 over the last 4 years)
  • A growing number of individuals enjoy Sunday club meetings
  • Wheelchair users enjoy independent helming of a Wheelyboat and personal freedom on the river.