Nine brave young people with vision loss and their siblings and friends in-toe, attended a Discover Sailing event at the Mordialloc Sailing Club in Melbourne's South, thanks to the support of Chris Thorpe and his volunteer skippers.
After putting on their wetsuits, life jackets and helmets, the participants stepped outside to learn about 'Pacer' boat sailing on dry land using tactile instruction. Once familiar with the boats, four Pacers were launched out into a choppy Port Phillip Bay with two young people on each.
Amanda Pudelka, BSRV particpant, writes about her experience.
On the 19th of January, I got the opportunity to go sailing at the Mordialloc Sailing Club with Blind Sport and Recreation Victoria, who organised the event.
Though the weather at first was not great for sailing, I and many other blind and vision impaired children had a great morning preparing for the event.
We learned how pacer boats operate, as our instructors took us through each individual part of them. We had the time to explore by touch and the chance to practice safely getting in and out of the boat.
As this was my first time ever sailing, I never imagined how detailed pacer boats are, with every single rope on them having its own name and crucial purpose.
In the meantime, the weather had cleared up, and we were able to go out on the water. We sailed a short distance into Port Phillip Bay. I felt the strong wind carrying us across the water and splashing us as we went. By the end we were all soaking wet, but that didn't matter, the experience was great.
The boats were wobbly on land, and I wondered how they would be in the water. But the waves out in the bay weren't big, and the boat glided smoothly across them.
I was also surprised to hear that we would need helmets while sailing. And it was only when I got onto a boat, that I learned why its crucial for beginners to wear then while sailing. This is because the boom pole on a pacer boat can move suddenly, and easily hit people in the head if they are not careful.
I had a great time sailing. The time on the boat flew by and I enjoyed every minute of it. The event organisers and instructors did an amazing job, and I am looking forward to the next chance when I get to go sailing.
Thank you to Bayside City Council for making this event possible.