Boats are notoriously unfriendly to wheelchairs, and let’s be honest — “accessible boats” are never really that great. This is why America’s Freedom Sailor, a nonprofit dedicated to the awesomeness of accessible sailing, has partnered with students at the University of New Orleans and the State University of New York at Buffalo to create the world’s first universally designed tall ship.
That’s right — a tall ship, one of those towering beauties that remind the mind’s eye of pirate ships, built from the ground up with universal design. The project began last year and the ship is still in the works, but if completed, it will be the first accessible tall ship made and based in the United States. Check out the America’s Freedom Sailor video:
Other accessible tall ships do exist, including the Lord Nelson and Tenacious, which are operated by Jubilee Sailing Trust, a UK-based accessible sailing nonprofit. These ships offer amazing sailing vacations to those with disabilities. There is also an accessible tall ship in Holland. However a tall ship that’s appealing to both nondisabled passengers and the disabled … well that doesn’t exist yet.
America’s Freedom Sailor will truly bring another aspect to sailing for people with disabilities. The ultimate goal is to provide people disabilities the ultimate sailing experience where they can sail alongside family and friends who are nondisabled. I love it.
The best part is there are no limitations. Absolutely none. It doesn’t matter how severe your mobility limitations are, you will be allowed on the boat and on the top deck where all the action is. If you want to feel alive, this should do it: the spray of the sea on your face, the wind in your hair, the smell of the ocean. Sailing is a multi-sensory experience, even for a C1 complete quad.
Jan Olijve, the founder, is dedicated to building the world’s first universally designed tall ship no matter the cost. He plans on offering all types of accessible features on-board too, from PCAs to being able to steer the ship with a joystick. Let’s see any other tall ship let you do that. Heck, on any other you might get in trouble for even looking at it the wrong way. To make this vision a reality, Olijve and America’s Freedom Sailor need your help.
Projects like this are so great to see. It’s huge for the disability community whenever universal design breaks the glass ceiling. To have something as spectacular as this operated by nonprofit is a dream for many people disabilities.
Consider donating to the America’s Freedom Sailor universal design tall ship project.
Have you been on a tall ship in your wheelchair?