By accident I literally stumbled over the team of “Meer bewegen” during this year’s Hanseboot. The team’s ambition is to get people with and without disability to go sailing together. They have equipped an ordinary dinghy with a kit especially designed for disability. With that they are roaming the waters on the Wittensee in Schleswig-Holstein, Northern Germany.
Sometimes little accidents turn out to be a positive event after all. While staring at a rather unusual boat interior I bumped into Eike Ketzler, who turned out to be the leader of the “Meer bewegen“-pack. A pretty interesting chat evolved and here I am with an article about the “Rainbow Pirates”, folks (and especially kids) with and without disability on a mission to go sailing together.
Barrier free sailing
Yachts and dinghies are not usually the so-called barrier-free environment. Tiny rooms, fully packed with all sorts of equipment, narrow ups and downs. And – above all – the constant and sometimes unexpected movements of the boat. To go sailing as a disabled person certainly has even more challenges than the ordinary life on land.
The team of “Meer bewegen”, calling themselves the Rainbow Pirates, has already started with actions, not only words.
RS Venture sailability kit
What have they been up to? They equipped an RS Venture, a 16 ft dinghy, with a sailability kit. So, what else? The team took lots of young (not only disabled) folks out onto the water. They enjoyed a wonderful summer of sailing on the Wittensee, a lake in Northern Germany.
Some features and details of the boat that has brought so many smiles onto young kids faces already:
- RS Venture (length 16’4 ft, beam 6’8 ft, draft 3’9ft)
- lifting keel / skeg to increase stability
- sailability kit: two specially designed seats (no movement on the boat necessary), lines for all actions on the boat controlled by person sitting in seat
- steering via manual “joystick”, connected to the rudder
- crew up to eight can be on board, ideally it should be something like four to five max.
Rainbow Pirates and their mission
“Increased self-confidence, taking on responsibility and working in a team – those are just some of the positive aspects the kids and teens experience,” says Thomas Preuhsler, “and we would like to co-operate with schools and other educational institutions”.
Also here a very positive signal has been set: The Wassersportclub am Wittensee e.V. agreed to a co-operation and the Rainbow Pirates can use the sports club’s area as well. Barrier-free adjustments are in planning, and the Wittensee itself is an ideal sailing area: no commercial traffic, no tides, no major waves.
Sailing with disability
Sailing with disability is not easy, but it is not impossible. After a wonderful summer with a whole bunch of new sailors the team of the Rainbow Pirates is more than sure that they are on the right track. The purchase of a second RS Venture is planned, other boats have joined the fleet. For 2016 they have a long list of planned and desired activities – and I will check back with them beginning of 2016 on how they are getting on.
Support is alyways needed, be it in person, material or monetary. Check out their website for more info, and stay up to date with the Rainbow Pirates here on Active Outside. Can’t wait to get out onto the water with them!