Disabled Access Day

Our third engagement with Disabled Access Day – a day to celebrate good access and create opportunities for people to try something new – was the most ambitious so far, with a Festival of the Sea ‘try sailing’ event at Carrickfergus Waterfront on Saturday 11 March. It was a resounding success with great help from our wonderful Volunteers, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, RYA Northern Ireland, Carrickfergus Sea Cadets, and the 5th Carrickfergus Cubs and Scouts.

Rather than continuing to blow our own trumpet we thought it better to quote this terrific Five-Star review posted by Festival of the Sea visitor “GoldiLocks” at Euan’s Guide, the listing and review site that helps people living with disabilities, their friends and families know about venues that are accessible. It’s also appropriate because it was the people behind Euan’s Guide who founded Disabled Access Day:

 

Visit Date: 11/03/2017

This visit included a person who uses: Wheelchair, Walking Aid, Long Cane, BSL, Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant

Overview (5/5)

An eye opening and exhilarating sailing experience. On arrival at Carrickfergus Sailing Club everyone was kitted out with flotation devices and waterproofs were available for anyone who needed them. The only equipment you need to take part are an old pair of trainers or wellies. I joined a group of Sea Scouts and adults of various ages with and without disabilities. In the plush surroundings of Carrickfergus Marina, Anne and Bill made Disability Awareness Training fun. It’s amazing what you learn with a blindfold on. As Anne pointed out, even if you have a disability you receive the training to make you aware of other disabilities including the many hidden. Excitement grew on the pontoon where we split up into different boats. Anyone who wanted to stay with their wheelchair easily boarded a Sea Rover at the bow by a mechanical ramp. A hoist is also available and supportive cushions can be used to assist balance and keep you upright. I boarded the ‘Hawk’ – reassuringly an unsinkable sailing boat, it self-rights itself even with the sail up. I felt very safe and for an hour enjoyed the fabulous view of Carrickfergus Castle and shoreline of Belfast Lough in the company of our learned crew Eoin and Stephen on the tiller (together with some perching birds). Sailing gives you an appetite and a well timed barbecue rounded of a FABULOUS experience. If your looking for an exhilarating challenge why not join Sailabilty at Carrickfergus Wednesday and Saturday mornings as sailor or volunteer. Thanks to all the volunteers who make it possible. I can’t wait to get out again.

Transport & Parking (4/5)

Some parking inside the Sailing club and just outside the gates.

Access (5/5)

Greeted in the grounds of Carrickfergus Sailing Club, we walked over to the Marina for our training, approx 400m flat walk. There is a disabled toilet at the entrance and a lift to the floors above. Ramps make access easy to the pontoon and the Sea Rover accommodates 2 wheelchairs with an automated ramp. A hoist is also available.

Toilets (5/5)

Disabled Toilet at the entrance of Marina building which doubles as a tourist information.

Staff (5/5)

Very welcoming, friendly, knowledgeable. All ages. I appreciate the huge effort they put into making the day as they are all volunteers. Apparently everyone switches jobs regularly so they are very well trained. Although the special event I attended was very busy I didn’t feel rushed and everyone took time to answer questions and explain things.

Anything else you wish to tell us?

I would definitely recommend Sailablity to anyone with or without a disability. Budding sailors and volunteers.

See the original review here.

Intro photo by Visitor Ryan.

Main photo by “GoldiLocks”: Bill Foster, who is blind, takes a Disabled Awareness Training course with 5th Carrickfergus Cubs and Scouts.

Here’s a slideshow of photos of the day – taken by Visitor ‘GoldiLocks’, Colin Craig, Gillian McAdam, Visitor Ryan and RYA NI.