• by Dart Sailability
  • 04 May, 2017

Dart Sailability Assist in development of RYA Powerability training scheme Dart Sailability Assist in development of RYA Powerability training scheme

Dart Sailability Assist in development of RYA Powerability training scheme

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA), The UK’s watersports regulatory body, has introduced a new training scheme developed in conjunction with the charity Dart Sailability based in Noss Marina, Kingswear, Devon

The RYA’s new Powerability scheme extends the accessibility of powerboat skippering to people of all abilities by introducing the opportunity to take recognised RYA training and gain certificates in powerboating.

The Powerability scheme was developed with Dart Sailability who, six years ago, launched their own powerboat certification after recognising a gap in the potential for skill development in the young people and adults who sailed with them.

And such has been the success of their programme, that Dart Sailability, led by Chief Power Instructor, Andrew Cushen, have worked closely with Rachel Andrews, Chief Instructor Motor Cruising and Power at the RYA, to roll the scheme out nationally.

 As Rachel explains: “For many disabled people skippering a powerboat may not have been an option before as, for example, limited mobility might have meant they are unable to keep lookout around them or they might not have had the upper body strength or dexterity to operate the throttle and use the wheel at the same time.

 “Powerability overcomes that by effectively making the skipper the manager of the boat. In much the same way that the captain of a container ship never touches the controls, can a skipper complete tasks themselves or clearly instruct crew to carry out actions enabling the safe travel and manoeuvring of a boat under power?

“The new scheme enables people to achieve an RYA certificate by recognising the skills they do have as a crew or as a helm, removing any barriers, to reinforce learning and achievement and build confidence on the water.”

So what’s it all about?

Powerability compliments and dovetails into the RYA Powerboat scheme at Level 1.

The syllabus covers the clothing and safety equipment an individual needs, getting started in a powerboat, developing crew skills and what it takes to be a helm.

Some 30 tasks are set out under these headings with Bronze, Silver and Gold certificates available. For each level a number of tasks must be completed and a minimum number of sessions attended. The aim is to encourage skill development and ongoing participation on a pathway into the rest of the RYA Powerboat Scheme.

Rachel continued: “We wanted to make sure the syllabus included crew skills, such as coiling a rope or deploying a fender, as these can often get overlooked in their importance whereas in Powerability, through the helm’s command, these skills all contribute to if a boat can even move, so crew involvement can be crucial.”

What can Powerability achieve?

Andrew Cushen doesn’t hesitate when asked that question - he estimates around 50 Dart Sailability Powerability certificates have been issued over the six years to students of widely varying disability and ages.

One young person with learning and short-term memory difficulties has achieved his Powerboat Level 2, and become part of Dart Sailability’s safety crew. Some of their Sonar keelboat and Hansa sailors are working towards their Powerboat Level 2 too.

In addition Andrew has run Powerability training for other river users, who may be experienced powerboat drivers but who, through age, arthritis, injury or illness etc, want to make sure they are safe to continue using their boats.

Dart Sailability carries out their Powerability training in RIBs and dories as well as their specially designed duel control landing craft, which includes side loading and a hydraulic ramp at the front, to extend driving opportunities to motorised wheelchair users. Check out the landing craft and more about Dart Powerability in this video…

Andrew admits Dart Sailability now have people who come along to Sailability who don’t want to sail and just want to develop powerboat skills to support that side of the group.

He said: “One of my aims was to get disabled members involved in all aspects and at all levels of Dart Sailability and Powerability has been the key to this.

“Not only do we have members acting as safety drivers and crew for our own activities, including wildlife and history cruises on the River Dart, but we do a lot of safety boat work for other events and regattas on the river and our powerboat trained members can be involved in these too.

“We started Powerability as a way for one of the schools we work with to evidence what the students were achieving through Sailability, and the school’s training officer, John Ballantyne, was very involved in setting-up the scheme.

“Now we are delighted Powerability has been taken on nationally and even more disabled people across the UK will get the chance to develop skills and confidence in the same way our members have.”

Rachel added: "We are really grateful to Dart Sailability for being so open about their approach and for their help in developing Powerability. Their experience and willingness to share has been invaluable.”

To find out more about our Powerability courses email  Andrew Cushen - chiefpowerinstructor@dartsailability.org

Dart Sailability News Blog

by Dart Sailability 19 Sep, 2017
Eighteen of us cruised to the Mewstone for some seal watching.  We then visited the Blackpool Beach bay before anchoring in Shingle Cove for our picnic.  The Sonars (a girls crew and a boys crew) then raced back to Dartmouth with the girls clear winners.  Well done to Anna, Emily, Pam and Denise.
by Dart Sailability 18 Sep, 2017

The sea cruise is set to go ahead. You should have had an email from Bob so if you plan to come with us and have replied to Bob we will see you at Noss at 10am. 

Paul S


by Dart Sailability 14 Sep, 2017
Mayfield School took to the water in Farries Flyer today (14th Sept) for a trip to Stoke Gabriel.  Mayfield's visits this year, have been generously funded by Rotary.  Although severely disabled, it was obvious that the children all loved the experience.  The carers did too and each took their turn at the helm.
by Dart Sailability 02 Sep, 2017
Robert Boyd came 3rd in the 303 single Hansa dinghy class at the RYA Multiclass regatta held at Rutland Sailability between 4-6 August.
by Dart Sailability 01 Sep, 2017
Thirty of us sizzled and guzzled at The Salmon Trap at Galmpton.  The sun shone, the matches were remembered and thanks to MDL at Galmpton, the Road closure at Noss did not spoil our fun.
by Dart Sailability 29 Aug, 2017
Well done to all those who attended and helped out at the 'Classic boat parade' great fun was had by all and we even won a prize. 
by Dart Sailability 28 Aug, 2017

Regular sailors in Dartmouth Regatta were taken by surprise this week. Experience says that the last week of August will be windy and very changeable, so four days of light wind and full sunshine came as a bit of a shock.

 Our two Sonars raced every day with the exception of Saturday when lack of wind early on and a decision by the Race Committee to abandon meant that there was disappointment for those who were down to sail that day.

 Our boats now race under a different scoring system (IRC) and without spinnakers were less competitive. However all acquitted themselves well and both boats finished in the middle of the fleet, while Krak-On squeezed into third place overall.

 Sunday crews probable fared best with three races in a lovely breeze and the bonus of being offered gin and tonics at the end of the last race.

 None of this would have happened without the enthusiastic organisation of Fleet Captain Keith Cockburn. Thank you Keith.


by Dart Sailability 09 Jul, 2017

Round the Island Race 2017

This year there was a Dart Sailability official-unofficial team entry for the Round The Island Race, raced on Saturday 1 July, organised by the Island Sailing Club. This is reputed to be the fourth largest participation sport activity in the United Kingdom, attracting some 1,600 entries with an estimated 16,500 individual sailors taking part. And in 2017 our new member Keith White, fresh from his triumphant solo circumnavigation of the British Isles (marks to starboard!) entered the Marathon to race the 50+ nautical miles round the Isle of Wight (marks to port!), and invited Tim Trent, volunteer and our Safety Officer, to join the crew.

The race did not go as planned.

On Friday 30 June Keith met Tim from the RedJet ferry at West Cowes at lunchtime and they planned getting the Marathon ready for the race. There was to be a crew of seven for the race, no bad thing, she's a big boat and heavy to operate even though Keith sails her solo on challenges, but racing is a very different thing from solo challenges. During the afternoon that seven dwindled to four, but four was fine to race her.

by Dart Sailability 09 Jul, 2017

Dart Sailability hosted a team from the junior section of RDYC at Noss on Saturday 1st July. Six sailors took part from each team in a light breeze and there was close quarters racing around the course.  Three races were held and RDYC came out on top by a clear margin.  Janet Cottey put on a superb cream tea afterwards while RDYC were presented with the Sailability Team Racing cup.  Great fun was had by all and we look forward to meeting up again next year.

by Dart Sailability 09 Jul, 2017

Dart Sailability took part in joint training exercise today (Sunday 4th June) involving Dart RNLI and National Coast Watch Froward Point.

The exercise was organised by Dart Sailability’s Safety Officer, Tim Trent liaising with Richard Eggleton at Dart RNLI and Dave Scotson, volunteer watch keeper at NCI - Froward Point

Dart Sailability’s vessel Farries Flyer , designed and built to accommodate severely disabled sailors, was used for the operation with Tim Trent at the Helm. The vessel, based on an aluminium landing craft design, has specially designed dual control, side loading and a hydraulic ramp at the front to provide access. The Farries Flyer can accommodate up to 12 sailors including four in wheelchairs.

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