British quadriplegic yachtsman Geoff Holt took the helm of a newbuild catamaran last month which has been specially designed for The Adventure Help & Opportunities for Youth (AHOY) Centre in London.
The ‘Personal Everest’ solo sail around Britain hero, who is currently planning a solo crossing of the Atlantic, skippered the newbuild AHOY Powercat 40 from Weymouth to Lymington as part of a UK South Coast delivery voyage en route to its official handover and start of work on London’s River Thames.
The £200,000 boat will be skippered and crewed by people with disabilities to enable them to enjoy boating as well as to inspire other disabled people. The craft with special equipment on board enables them to handle and sail a boat, demonstrating that with the right equipment they can do anything a fully able person can.
Starting at Falmouth, the craft visited Falmouth, Plymouth, Weymouth, Lymington, Cowes, Southampton, Brighton, Eastbourne and Ramsgate on its way to London. It is crewed and skippered by volunteers who have been taking out 36 people with disabilities each day during the inaugural trip.
Built in Newhaven UK, this stable GRP catamaran has an overall length of 12.3m and can carry up to eleven wheelchair users with ‘anchorage’ points. For maximum manoeuvrability and ease of control, the craft is fitted with a twin UltraJet 305HT propulsion system using an Ultra Dynamics JetMaster Joystick control system for steering, reverse and sideway movements. Power is provided by Twin Iveco diesel engines rated at 330 bhp at 2,850 rpm.
Clive Ongley, who is a volunteer and Chair of Trustees of AHOY, said that the Powercat 40 has met the design expectations and achieved 21 knots during sea trials.
The boat is specially outfitted with two wheelhouse lifting platforms, together with a helm position lift for extra height, plus a rear ramp for wheelchair access to shore. To assist the crew members who have little movement within the shoulders and neck, a special six point inboard/outboard camera and Jotron intercom system has been fitted with a monitor at the helm position to enable them to communicate with other crew members. Fold down benches, convertible to berths, allow up to five sailors to participate in overnight trips.
This special vessel will be based in London after completing a winter programme of training. For further information or to become involved, Email Lacie Cole, AHOY development manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maritime Journal, 8th September 2009