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indicajames 05-17-2013 09:11 AM

help with a new potential sailor
hello everyone i am james i am new on here ive recently become seriously interested about living at sea and travelling around by myself but i have some hurdles i am legally blind and i am deaf i wanted to know if it was possible for someone with my type of disablities is allowed to sail around IF i met requirments and had the specific aids to help me as well as training ive trawled the internet and i cant find an answer anywhere if that it was possible for me to do so but there is no clear answer so i am hoping someone can help me out in giving me information about this any help will help me greatful or if anyone can point me in the right direction to where i could get an answer thank you very much in advance for any help or advice xx

jimgo 05-17-2013 09:25 AM

Re: help with a new potential sailor
I am hearing impaired. For daysailing, and maybe even some coastal cruising, you might be able to get away with being deaf. But trying to live "at sea" is a whole different beast than living on land. If you are talking about living aboard a boat at a dock/slip/marina, that might work. But there are a lot of things onboard a sailboat that require your sight, and I just can't imagine that there are appropriate aids to help overcome not being able to see them.

What would you do in case of a collision, especially if you were alone? How would you check proper sail trim? What happens when you break your leg because the roll of paper towels fell off the holder in the middle of the night and you just slipped and fell on it? Oh, and you're a 2 hour sail offshore. And there's a horrible storm.

I can appreciate your desire to want to get away, but your plan isn't something you can just jump into, given the limitations you face. If you're going to do it, you'll have to do it step-by-step, or you'll wind up severely injuring or killing yourself. If you're serious, I know there are programs for people who have certain kinds of diabilities where they will take you out sailing and even teach you to sail. Start there, see what you think, and more importantly, see if you can handle the boat essentially on your own. If you can, then that's a great sign, and you'll have proven me wrong, and this will be one of those rare times when I'll be very happy to have been proven wrong.

krisscross 05-17-2013 09:35 AM

Re: help with a new potential sailor
Indi - you could first try living on a boat tied in a marina to see how you like it. Then you can try venturing out of the marina for short trips. Baby steps rule, my friend!

jephotog 05-17-2013 10:11 AM

Re: help with a new potential sailor
I think you would be able to get involved in sailing. I know here in San Diego there is a group specifically catering to taking people out with different handicaps to enjoy sailing. They have special boats that can be sailed by an experienced sailor while the learning sailor can step up and take on more roles as they learn and become comfortable. They also have an Transpac team that consists of boat where the entire crew has some sort of handicap.

I have often tried to sail without looking at the sails by the feel of the boat, but think hearing has something to do with the ability to feel how the boat reacts to the tiller and sail trim inputs. There are other physical inputs also that help though, like wind on the body, heal of the boat and tiller pressure.

I think the skills needed to sail could be overcome with your handicaps but as far as sailing solo you might have some problems with navigation and right of way rules. Many of the COLREG rules are based on right of way, maintaining a proper lookout and seeing and avoiding other boats. Without vision to see other boats or determine what type of boats they are, what they are doing, fishing, towing, starboard tack, you can not adequately provide a safe watch and determine right of way. There would also be some navigational challenges as you need to be able to spot landmarks, buoys and aids to navigation.

Here are some of the COLREGS describing the duties of the boater in terms of keeping a proper lookout and determining right of way.

5. Look-out
Every vessel must at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing, as well as by all available means in order to make a full assessment of the situation and risk of collision.

7. Risk of Collision
Vessels must use all available means to determine the risk of a collision, including the use of radar (if available) to get early warning of the risk of collision by radar plotting or equivalent systematic observation of detected objects. (e.g. ARPA, AIS).
If the distance of any vessel is reducing and her compass bearing is not changing much or it is a large vessel or towing vessel at close distance, or if there is any doubt, then a risk of collision shall be deemed to exist.[5]

jephotog 05-17-2013 10:14 AM

Re: help with a new potential sailor
James where do you live?

You might get someone here willing to take you out or point you in the right direction, provided you left the indica behind.

Donna_F 05-17-2013 10:18 AM

Re: help with a new potential sailor

Originally Posted by jephotog (Post 1031710)
James where do you live?

You might get someone here willing to take you out or point you in the right direction, provided you left the indica behind.

I'm sure James is referring to the band and not the plant. :D

Best of luck, James.

Lady Adoryan 05-17-2013 10:52 AM

help with a new potential sailor
I hope you pursue your sailing dream. I know your available senses are more acute than most folks. Fair winds...

JimMcGee 05-17-2013 03:31 PM

Re: help with a new potential sailor
Try contacting Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) at They're a non-profit whose mission is "making the thrill of sailing a reality for physically challenged individuals".

They may already have members who are blind and/or hearing impaired who could give you some advice even if you're not local to the Chesapeake Bay.

Best of luck,

Siamese 05-17-2013 04:24 PM

Re: help with a new potential sailor
Traveling around by yourself? No. Not possible. Too many variables.

carl762 05-17-2013 05:52 PM

Re: help with a new potential sailor
Bad hearing, yes. Bad eyesight, agreed, absolutely not. You don't want to die out there. A partner would be in order.

Best wishes.

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