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New boat makes sailing more accessible for people with disabilities

More people with disabilities living in Far North Queensland will be able to enjoy being out on the water after transport company Sea Swift today (7 March) gifted Sailability Cairns with a new customised boat.

The eye-catching pink Hansa 303 dinghy will expand Sailability’s fleet to five vessels, allowing even local people with disabilities to be taken out on the ocean.

Sailability Cairns President Andy Murray said the specifically-adapted boat will be a huge asset to the organisation, creating an exciting and rewarding experience for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

“Our aim is to allow all members of society to experience the freedom, the joy, and the challenge of sailing by actively participating and learning how to sail the boat, or simply enjoying the experience as a passenger,” said Mr Murray.

“It’s such a thrill for our clients to be able to feel the wind in their hair, and take in the sights and sounds around them.

“Every day, countless people on reef tourist boats eagerly wave and film us as they're returning from their day on the reef.

“Our colourful little fleet is very eye catching, and lots of people can witness the real joy they bring, and how they make life-changing differences to the lives of people living with disabilities.

“We’ve been eager to increase our fleet to meet existing and future demand, as sometimes we have to cut short people’s sailing time as others are waiting.

“This new vessel will allow even more people with disabilities to get out on the water, and will really change lives for the better.

“I’d like to say a special thank you to Sea Swift for their invaluable support. It wouldn’t have been possible without their kind donation.”

The striking pink boat design is in tribute to the all-female project team which helped pull everything together: Sheena Poa (Sea Swift), Susan Lunn (Sailability), Mickey Dousset (Mickey Ink signage), and Wendy Brace (volunteer).

The team was ably assisted by Mr Murray, who teaches Sailability clients how to navigate a vessel.

Sea Swift’s Bob O’Halloran said the company was delighted to be able to help provide life-changing opportunities for people with disabilities.

“It’s been great to work with the wonderful people at Sailability, who are genuinely passionate about improving opportunities for people with disabilities,” Mr O’Halloran said.

“This boat will provide more people with the same exhilarating experience that other members of the community feel when out on the ocean.

“We’re a community-focused company, and it’s exciting to be involved in helping to make people’s dreams come true.”

Cairns Yacht Club started Sailability Cairns Inc, which is totally run by volunteers, in October 2014.

Sailability Cairns now accepts group bookings, including from The Endeavour Foundation and ARC Disability Services, and is also in discussions with other disability service organisations who are keen to bring people with acquired brain injuries and elderly people with low level dementia.

“All the signs are that participation will continue to increase, so this new boat is very timely indeed,” Mr Murray said.

“We are now looking to add more Hansa 303s to the fleet over the next 12 months.”

Sea Swift has more than 30 years of experience providing essential shipping services and project freight across the region with more than 400 staff and 30 vessels, and makes a significant contribution to communities across northern Australia.

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