Chris Sheehan and Les Clack get ready to take to the water in one of the three Access dinghies being used for the Sailability s
Chris Sheehan and Les Clack get ready to take to the water in one of the three Access dinghies being used for the Sailability s

Sail into the sunset



IT was sails in the sunshine on the Jetty Beach yesterday as Peter and Jenny Johnson and their band of helpers celebrated the first Sailability sailing day on the Coffs Coast for seven years.

After the threat of three and four-metre swells initially saw yesterday's Come and Try day called off, the weekend's perfect weather saw the group scramble to resurrect their plans, with the help of the Yacht Club and Rotary Daybreak.

More than 50 people, including volunteers, recovery boat crews and organisers hit the beach yesterday for the sailing day.

Sailability aims to offer freedom in the water regardless of ability and Mr Johnson said he hoped it would provide everyone, including children and visitors, with the opportunity to try sailing in the easy-to-handle buoyant little Access dinghies.

Mr Johnson, who has been in a wheelchair since 1990, said he had a shock introduction to Sailability even before the program began. He was in rehabilitation when he was 'borrowed' as a guinea pig by the makers of the Access dinghies.

In midwinter Mr Johnson, who had never before sailed a boat, found himself strapped into a boat seat and pushed out into the freezing cold waters of Albert Park Lake to fight three-metre swells. But he managed to stay upright, work out the controls and returned to shore hooked on sailing.

Sailability began on the Coffs Coast with the Bellingen River Sailing Club but Mr Johnson said access and isolation problems had seen the group decide to move to the Jetty.

People interested in supporting the Sailability sailing club in Coffs Harbour can contact Gail Pursey, 6651 6601 or Louise Jackson 6651 2149.



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