Thursday, September 15, 2016

Set Sail with Community Boating This Fall!

Thanks Laila Soleimani for this post on Community Boating, a sailing club for all. Community Boating has offered sailing since 1936 and is a fantastic opportunity not to miss if you live in or near Boston or are planning a visit. Whether you are new to sailing or already experienced, the Charles River is a fun place to enjoy the urban landscape.
On August 16th, I had the wonderful opportunity to observe Community Boating's adaptive sailing program, which started with help from DCR’s Universal Access Program in 2003. I had been trying to check out CBI's adaptive sailing program for the last year, so I was very excited I was finally able to get there. Community Boating Inc. is located on the Esplanade along the Charles River in Boston with fantastic views of the city skyline. Upon walking up to the boathouse, I watched individuals of all ages  - from kids to teenagers to adults - excitedly entering the facility. There was a bright blue sign with black lettering that read "Sailing Here for All". When I walked in, I was greeted by Isaac Pato, the dockmaster, and his front desk staff. Within the first few minutes of being there, I witnessed first-hand the welcoming environment CBI provides to its community members and guests.

This Tuesday morning started out with an overcast sky as afternoon showers were predicted, but the clouds cleared by early afternoon and the high flying pink sails, colorful smiles of participants, and incredible metallic hues of the buildings along the Charles made for a bright and beautiful day. There were two groups going out for recreational boat rides-one from American Training Institute and the other from Charles River Center, both being organizations that attend CBI's adaptive sailing programs regularly. CBI has two types of sailing programs that they offer-80 minute sailing lessons or 50 minute recreational boat rides with several staff for UAP programs and 1 dockmaster available on any given day. Community Boating, Inc. indeed strives to make their programs accessible in every capacity; the cost for UAP programs is $50 for the season, but a need-based, reduced fee of $1 is available by filling out a form available on their website.

Isaac took me out on a motor boat and I was able to watch as participants were smiling from ear to ear as they enjoyed their boat rides (both groups were on the water for recreational boat rides). He also showed me the Sonar boat, which is available for use by participants with disabilities in the Universal Access Program. This boat is geared towards both beginner and advanced sailors and is operated by hand controls and gives an individual more independence in their sailing endeavor. However, if the participant is a beginner and using the Sonar, it can also be operated with a tiller by an instructor, proving its versatility.

Isaac couldn't wait to show me CBI's newly acquired piece of adaptive equipment geared towards individuals with spinal cord injury or other extreme physical disabilities. This accessible sailor seat provides a way for experienced sailors to have greater control of the boat and to be able to compete by racing sailboats. It was modeled after a prototype designed by Richard Ramos, a longtime member of Community Boating, who along with a team of engineers, developed this specialized adaptive skipper seat, to be able to race competitively. After much fundraising, they reached their $30,000 goal and were able to design this universally accessible adaptive seating system! If you're interested in building upon your sailing skills and racing competitively or know someone who is, be sure to come through CBI to test out this piece of adaptive gear! The staff is very excited about it and looking for more participants that are interested in giving it a try!

Community Boating's adaptive sailing programs run 7 days a week, from now until October 31st. This is a great way to stay active and outdoors as summer winds down and we head into the fall season! To make a reservation, register here. If you need further assistance email or call 617-651-1209.

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