Welcome for disabled sailors at sea festival

Thumbs up from skipper, Stephen Molloy and crew member, Paul Green at the HANSA 303 Irish Championship event hosted by Belfast Lough Sailability. INCT 31-015-PSB
Thumbs up from skipper, Stephen Molloy and crew member, Paul Green at the HANSA 303 Irish Championship event hosted by Belfast Lough Sailability. INCT 31-015-PSB

Belfast Lough Sailability is supporting Disabled Access Day on Saturday March 11 by hosting a ‘Festival of the Sea’ event.

This will take place from 10.00 am until 2.00 pm at Carrick water front .

The programme will include “an array of fully-accessible on-the-water and onshore activities”.

There will be excursions onto Belfast Lough aboard specially adapted power and sailing boats.

Belfast Lough Sailability has a ‘Sea Rover’ vessel which has a drop-down bow that enables wheelchair users with limited mobility to remain in their wheelchairs, to access the boat via the ramp and get out on the water – and even get a turn on the helm to drive the motor boat.

Belfast Lough Sailability’s ‘Hansa’ keelboats incorporate a straightforward steering mechanism and are safe and colourful sailing boats. The charity has a quayside hoist that enables individuals with mobility issues to be hoisted into the boats.

A “safe fun motor boat” will also be in use and everyone gets a turn on the tiller.

To raise disability awareness among younger people, Belfast Lough Sailability has invited a group of Scouts and members of Carrickfergus Sea Cadets to the event who will benefit from disability awareness training, learning how to interact and assist people with a broad range of disabilities.

This will include assisting some disabled volunteers onto the quayside and manual handling training using a hoist to assist members into the boats.

There will be a barbecue at the end of the day for volunteers and participants.

A spokesperson for Belfast Lough Sailability said: “We hope to encourage more people with disabilities to participate in our activities, and more volunteers to assist in the delivery of our services and activities.

“Belfast Lough Sailability welcomes everyone to our Disabled Access Day and Festival of the Sea, irrespective of disability, ability or age. “