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Old 06-29-2013
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Handicapped Access to Salon?

We have a 1988 Catalina 30 with three nearly vertical steps from the cockpit to the salon and my husband has a neurological disease which causes drop foot and atrophied leg muscles and makes it very difficult to climb out of the salon. Even getting down into the salon is dangerous as he doesn't have the strength in his legs to recover from a slip. We're on a lake so there's no reason to get caught in dangerous winds and so far it's worked to plop him behind the wheel and let me do the deck monkey stuff, but we're looking for a solution for salon access.

We have a harness so we're going to try using the mainsail halyard and a winch, but surely there's something easier. Anyone have any ideas? He's in the salon as I type and we'll have to get him out to go sailing in the morning--but no pressure!
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Old 06-30-2013
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

Have you tried a bosun's chair or breeches buoy?

If you have a medical equipment supply company nearby, check out patient lifters.
Hoyer makes one of the best. They have different sizes & styles of slings, manual
or motorized operation, are wheeled. dismantleable and portable, and if you can get
a prescription, Medicare should pay for some of it. This site shows what I mean:

Patient Lifters - Home

Standard Disclaimer: I have no connection with the above-named companies. I worked
in the medical equipment business doing fitting, installation, repair and customization of
many kinds of patient-care devices.

Best of luck to you.

Gary
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Old 06-30-2013
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

I think it's awesome that you guys aren't letting a disability keep you off the water!

It seems to me that a harness and halyard is a reasonably good option. If your husband can help to negotiate his limbs a bit, then the halyard can do the lifting. Perhaps installing an electric winch would be worthwhile in the long run?

Let us know what you come up with as it might help someone else in the future.
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Old 06-30-2013
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

I wonder if an organization such as CRAB (Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating) might be able to share any tips or ideas. Your boat is larger than the customized ones they sail, but you never know.

Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

I am a sailor with a physical handicap (hemiparesis) due to an accident I had at age 3. I didn't start to learn about sailing until I was 12, nearly 40 years ago, but already knew how to overcome several obstacles AND define my limitations (which were few, fortunately). Here are a few observations and suggestions:

- Everyone is handicapped on the water. Look around at all of the contraptions we use (with or without mechanical advantage) and I hope you'll see what I mean. Somewhere, somehow, there is usually a solution that will work for you. Get those creative juices flowing.

- One of the best things your husband can do is lots of physical therapy. This is not only to minimize the atrophy but also to strengthen other body parts (e.g. arms and hands) to facilitate mobility when aboard. This is a sensitive topic, I know. Most people think that someone who endured 10 years of intensive PT as a kid would easily embrace a PT regimen as an adult; not so - I still hate doing it but I know the payoff makes it worthwhile.

- Think about a different sailboat. Many catamarans have only one step between the cockpit and salon. The stability of such designs provide a level platform that is so much easier to get around on. Shorter overall length in a catamaran can still provide as much accomodation as you expect now, also making many of the parts smaller and incrementally easier to handle. Yes, I understand cost is a factor but this is just a thought right now.

- Once you get enough posts feel free to PM me. If CRAB, noted above, isn't local to you there may be another handicap sailing program near you; just do some research. There are many handicap sailors in this world (and at least one famous sailing author), so do not get discouraged.

- To anyone reading this, I have always felt better using the term handicap in place of disability.
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

Block and tackle fitting over the boom, attached to a bosuns chair or climbers harness?
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

At times I am called on from workers comp court established funds to make adaptions for work place injuries. The goal is to change the built environment to permit independent freedom of movement. If upper body strength is available or can be built with therapy then work with an occupational therapist to locate hand holds and resting areas on the companion way steps. Maybe increase the slope of the steps to provide the option to sit on a step to rest before the next push to the top.
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

Well, we got him out of the salon using the halyard and main winch but it wasn't easy. A properly placed block and tackle would help. In my happy place I'd love to add tracks to either side of the salon steps and have a platform which would ride on them and raise/lower him with hydraulics or some other sort of mechanism. We've thought about buying a patient lift but that takes up an awful lot of room in the cockpit. Maybe we could tear it apart and reconfigure the working mechanism to fit our needs? And we do need to contact CRAB, which my brother-in-law had mentioned. They may be helpful.

Michael—we’ve looked online at catamarans but the price is intimidating and they still seem to have their share of stairs since you have to step down into the bed/head area. We’re considering a trip south to check out a pilot house boat hoping the more gradual descent would be easier but we also have to decide if pouring more money into sailing makes sense since this is a progressive disease and we’re not sure how much longer he can function at this level. Still, it’s only money and I’ve always believed in the saying that a dream is a bargain no matter how much it costs. And sorry to hear that you’re also facing challenges but you know the drill—try to hang onto what you have and take the rest as it comes. Our favorite line now is: It is what it is.
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

Is the companionway wide enough for a motorized stair lift? Can it be widened? The seat folds, but might still be too wide. You may have to remove it for unobstructed access. They are available with emergency battery, just in case.

Boat davit with bosun's chair? It could pivot, & break down for storage. I've seen them used on pickup
trucks to load things like car engines.
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Last edited by manatee; 06-30-2013 at 08:31 PM.
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Re: Handicapped Access to Salon?

If you rig the upper block like a mainsheet block with an integrated cam cleat, the lower one attached to the bosuns chair, he could probably self assist to exit and enter. Stop by pulling the line into the cam cleat. You could even have an attachment welded under the boom to snap in a carabiner , or just fashion a strap.
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