Cory Lee, a wheelchair user who was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, recently traveled to Sheboygan, Wisconsin where he was connected with an organization that assists people with disabilities to get out on the water and enjoy sailing.
The organization Cory was connected with is called SEAS (Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan). Cory admits that he was nervous about sailing but wanted to give it a try.
There was a hoist on the dock above the boat that helped Cory transfer into a seat in the boat. He says, “To actually get into the sailboat, there was a hoist attached to the dock (right by the boat) and a seat inside the boat. We managed to get a sling under me with a bit of help, and then the hoist lifted me out of my wheelchair and lowered me into the seat inside the boat. The hoist worked perfectly and the seat was pretty comfortable after I got adjusted and stabilized in it.”
The next item of business to figure out was how Cory was going to steer the boat. The organization has come up with several adaptations for various disabilities. Some of the adaptations included bite switches or a joystick.
“Trust me when I say that they will figure out a way for you to steer the boat.”
Because Cory has very limited strength in his hands and cannot lift his arms very much he chose to use the bite switches paired with the most sensitive finger switches available. Once it was all set up, the group loaded in the sailboat to explore Lake Michigan!
“Our disabled sailing adventure started out great, with me in control of the boat. It was a thrilling experience to be sailing on Lake Michigan and a true bucket-list-worthy item. The sun was shining down on us and I couldn’t believe that I was actually sailing!”
Unfortunately, Cory only got to sail for about 15 minutes because the wind stopped blowing. He states, “Even though this adaptive sailing experience didn’t last as long as I would’ve liked in a perfect world, it was still a wonderful introduction to the sport of sailing and I was amazed that I got to do it at all.”
Have you been sailing? What was your experience like? Share your story with us at AbleThrive.com!