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post #1 of 6 Old 10-16-2011 Thread Starter
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my first post, questions regarding ASA certification and disabilities

first I would like introduce myself. My name is Eitan Waks, and I am 29 years old. In fact, I will be 30 in about a month. I think it's been at least two or three years since I've been thinking about sailing in a serious manner. several weeks ago I began sailing a small dinghy and found it very enjoyable. I always envied the beautiful yachts sailing alongside.

I currently work as a mechanical engineer in high output stressful environment. I've decided that in 3 to 5 years from now I will begin cruising the world. I can't see myself continuing in this manner for long (8:30 AM until 8:30 PM is common). Therefore, about a week ago I decided that cruising is definitely my future.

In addition to being a mechanical engineer, I am also handicapped. When I was 20 years old I was injured during the Army. I broke my C 4/5 vertebrae in my neck. As a result, I was paralyzed from the neck down. Over the years I have regained some function of my arms. I can use both my arms however I have limited to no control over my fingers. I am providing all this information because of the following question.

Although I'm currently enjoying sailing on an accessible 18 foot sailboat (18 foot Scud) with the wonderful help of the local sailing school and the veterans Association, I would like to sail on a sailboat in which I can travel. In order to feel confident I would like to take courses. Either ASA or RYA (hopefully eventually the 106/108 or the RYA equivalent). The problem is, I can't handling the ropes by myself, complete a man overboard, etc.

Should I be taking these courses (101, 103, 104, 105) considering my disability?

by the way, I have only found one yacht that is currently accessible and available for charter. I plan to charter a yacht and acquire private lessons from an accredited school in the Mediterranean. (I live in Israel)

eventually, I would like to purchase a used 45-55 foot yacht and make her accessible for my needs, both sailing (electric winches, etc.) and accommodation (completely wheelchair accessible below deck). Out of curiosity, what would be a ballpark range for the cost of such a project? (I don't need anything luxurious, just a safe hull and to make it accessible).

By the way, I will always have someone to help me. I don't plan on sailing alone, ever.

Thank you for all the great help, I am enjoying reading this forum.
Eitan Waks
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post #2 of 6 Old 10-16-2011
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Eitan. I do wish you good luck with that and suggest you will need to form a partnership and close working relations with an organization thta is already engaged in making sailing handicap-accessible. I used seaworthy yacht in that size range could easily be $150,000-$250,000 US and iy ou need to begin refitting with a modified companionway, modified cockpit, electric or better hydraulic winches in that size range...I suspect you will be looking at $300-400,000 very easily.

As you would be especially at risk from major failures, that also means ensuring the rigging and sails are new, and unless the boat is young, paying close attention to the rudder as conventional rudders with stainless posts often have internal damage.

You've got quite a project ahead of you, enlisting some serious aid for the long term would be the first step to make it happen.
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post #3 of 6 Old 10-16-2011
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Very commendable! Most people are too scared to take their dreams into their own hands and you are doing just that. Kudos!
As for your project it will definitely be an undertaking but completely do-able. I would agree that refitting in preparation for a circumnav in addition to other custom modifications you may desire/require you could easily be looking at four hundred thousand. And agreed you will want to verify that all rigging (I would suggest both standing and running) is new and very reliable.
Something else to consider, have you thought about getting a catamaran. They can sometimes be more accomodating.
Good luck and keep us up to date.

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post #4 of 6 Old 10-16-2011
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You may want to look at some cats, the Gemini, especially can be "single level" living quite also has a wide salon door and relatively flat surfaces to move on.

Best of luck...

no I am not a Gemini rep, just thought that this platform will be easier to convert and at a lower price point...
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-16-2011
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Geoff Holt has a similar disability and completed an unassisted trans-Atlantic sail. His website might provide some information. He sails a cat.

Good luck and welcome to Sailnet!


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post #6 of 6 Old 10-17-2011
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Eitan, you may want to contact ASA and RYA and see if they have a provision in their list of 101 requirements for those with physical limitations, they may. And once you have 101, you have more "external" credibility with those who might otherwise shake their heads.

Your idea of a larger boat is a good one. If you can't quickly move around the cockpit, such as during a tack or jibe, then you want to be on a boat large and heavy enough where weight placement (at least for your own weight) doesn't matter. Then you can steer from either windward or leeward. Electric self-tailing winches help, as of course does a good crew.

Don't be discouraged. I have been soundly beaten in races in Shields class (30' keel daysailer type) by a very heavy and very old guy who had to be lowered into the boat with a crane. But he could "smell' the windshifts early, and made the boat go fast. Much of sailing is more brains than brawn.

As Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right".

Last edited by nolatom; 10-17-2011 at 11:38 AM.
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