Disabled Sports

Well, we still haven't done much with the boat since so I may as well talk about something else that is very dear to me. Paralympics and Special Olympics have always caught my eye on television but I never really looked into it. It was more one of those things that I'd watch completely entranced but when it was over, I'd resume my usual life.

That changed when I volunteered for disabled sailing last year and they started partnering me up with a variety of disabled sailors for daysailing. My initial approach was like walking on eggshells. Volunteers were not allowed to ask sailors what their disabilities were. Some had trouble communicating. We also had to get a lot of them on and off the boat with the help of a small crane and that created a lot of worries like whether or not they're comfortable, are they going to slide in the sling, is the wheelchair positioned properly, are they going to thrash around, and so on.

It's my second year here and the familiarity with how things work transformed into confidence. The cranes and slings are just necessary tools. And you start picking up on facial expressions and other cues pretty quickly on sailors who can't or have trouble speaking. I've started partnering in races and it's been amazing. The vibe is similar to any other sailing club. By this, I mean we race hard, we scream our fair share of expletives on the course, we have our own brew of sailing club gossip, we party after races and regattas... and boy, do we party.

I think I've come to a point where I sometimes even take disabilities for granted and I'm not sure if this is any better than being oversensitive. There are always people who just want to cruise around and let you do all the work and I'm fine with that, disabled or not. But anyone who shows just an inkling of comprehension and physical ability to pull on ropes or steer must  try at least once if they're partnering with me. I want to see them at least learning that wind blows from a direction and watch that light bulb go off in their heads. It seems like such a waste otherwise. Maybe this is can be a bit too demanding but no one's complained so far.

There is a second reason for my fascination that's much pettier and possibly a bit unsettling. I simply like gadgets. Boats for the disabled are rigged differently. Different wheelchairs have different functions from your day-to-day use to sports-specific. There's a wide range of prosthetics. And these are just the physical examples. What if a person who was blind through nerve damage was able to see through the use of electronic instruments embedded in their brain? There's just something strangely creepy but absolutely enticing about combining human flesh with non-living material.

At the extreme of this concept, I could even say that a sailboat is an extension of one's body. The boat is doing all the swimming. I'm talking to you through a computer by typing with my fingers. The fact that we use different extensions differently makes every single human being abled in some ways and disabled in others. You may probably never have the ability to see an image digitally transmitted from your eyes to your brain.


Know Your Hull Dimensions

To be honest, we haven't done anything with the star since my last post. I've been very busy with racing on other boats and sailing-related volunteer work and I might just talk more about them at a later date.

For now, here's a crude diagram I drew to explain the weird jargon and abbreviations in my last post. What you're looking at is the side of the boat. You have the keel in the centre and the rudder on the right.

LOA = Length OverAll. This is the number we usually answer when someone asks you, "How big is your boat?" According to Wikipedia, it's the maximum length of a vessel from the two points on the hull measured perpendicular to the waterline.

LWL = (Load) Waterline Length. This is the length of the boat at the waterline, or where your boat touches the water. The waterline is drawn with dashes in the diagram.

Freeboard = Height of the hull that's above the water

Draft = Height of the hull that's underwater, usually not including the keel in sailboats. You may notice that the specs of the star doesn't state the freeboard. They just used the word "draft" to specify the overall height of the hull.

Also, not shown in the diagram is the beam, which is the width of the boat.

But enough of the terminology. Here's a little taste of what's to come.


Star Specs

With the introduction out of the way, let's talk about what the star boat is. Here's what it looks like.

Sloop-rigged keelboat with a gigantic mast and gigantic sails. From bird's eye view, it looks kind of like a giant laser. Chine hull, fin keel. The guy who sold us the mast said he likened the star to a keelboat version of the International 14.

As far as we know, all the specs are up to standards. The only thing we need to make sure is that our mast isn't too long. Mast height from deck is supposed to 9652mm. Stupid me, I measured it at 10077 from the bottom, not including the step. I don't think I should get the difference off of the draft either.

Anyway, standard specs are as follows:

LOA = 6922mm
LWL = 4724mm
Draft = 1016mm
Beam = 1734mm at deck and 1372 at chine
Hull weight ≥ 671kg and this includes everything

(We'll go over the sails in another post.)

Our boat in particular is an oldbie with modifications from decades ago. We're still trying to figure out what's changed and if these changes can be implemented on our boat with minimal cost and labour.

It's our first season with this boat so the priority is to simply get it sailing. All the fancy bells and whistles will come if/when we feel competent enough with the boat AND find a smart, fast and heavy enough crew to race regularly.

And to show you just how clueless we are, we're still trying to decide where all our lines should lead. Majority of the fittings aren't secure and the boom vang track is hanging out inside the cockpit.

For those of you who are non-sailors or are new to sailing, I'll go through all the vocabulary in my next post. This is mostly just to get all the information out there.


The Obligatory Introduction

Hello, my dear curious reader. This blog is about the awkward blunders of a 97-105 lb girl co-owning a boat designed for two gigantic guys totalling 500 lbs. The weight of the other two co-owners and I together add up to around 420-450 lbs but it's hard to fit three people in there. The boat in question is a star boat. A fellow sailor was desperately trying to get rid of it and it landed in our hands in November 2010.

As for myself, my pen name here is CC. I'm an avid sailor and gym rat with about a decade of dinghy sailing experience. My personal interests revolve around fitness, rehabilitation and paraplegic and quadriplegic sailing. I still feel very much like a newbie in the sailing world, however, and the recently acquired star only enhances that feeling.

I hope you'll stick around to see what sort of shenanigans I get myself into.