Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: somewhere south of civilization
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Re: What does "too old to sail mean"?
Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) strives to make sailing accessible to people with disabilities of all types. I had an elderly friend who came to his boat in a wheelchair and raced it, often winning. He sailed it in and out of it's slip, without a motor. If you have a disability, you find a "workaround" that enables you to do whatever you enjoy doing.
Some skippers don't want old folks for crew. The first time I crew on an unfamiliar boat, I know that I'll have to demonstrate that I can contribute meaningfully to the sailing of the boat in order to be invited back. That isn't really difficult to do, because younger crew often neglect some of the "fine points", such as skirting the jib after each tack. If you show that you're thinking about such things, you'll likely be invited back.
As long as you're reasonably ambulatory, and sentient, and have friends who are willing to contend with your disabilities, I see no reason why one can't continue sailing until the last day of one's life. Many have done it.
I'm certainly one of those skippers who will not take a disabled or person on lifesaving medication on an ocean crossing. Persons with cardiac problems, epilepsy or diabetes are some illnesses that I won't consider for crew positions.
There have been instances where I have denied access to a tour or passenger boat to those in a wheelchair. Most often this is when the vessel has watertight oval hatches (doors) which cannot be navigated by someone in a wheelchair alone. Most often, tourist boats do not have an extra two crew to aid the person in the wheelchair in an emergency. I'd rather be sued for denying access than for a death.
"Any idiot can make a boat go; it takes a sailor to stop one." Spike Africa aboard the schooner Wanderer in Sausalito, Ca. 1964.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
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