• 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 30 Nov, 2017
There will be no maintenance day on Tue 19 December as it's both the run up to Christmas and hopefully both of the boats we have out of the water will be complete and awaiting Premier lifting them back into the water and getting the next two out for us.  We may be very restricted in our ability to work on boats in February due to closure of the road bridge into Noss, as such it would be great if we could have really strong work parties throughout January.  The first maintenance session of 2018 will be Tuesday 9 January.  Have a great Christmas and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
by Dart Sailability 30 Nov, 2017
It’s time to dig out those Christmas jumpers and silly hats again. Dart Sailability’s annual get together for Christmas lunch will be at Churston Golf Club on Tuesday 12 December at 12.00 noon for 12.30. Hope you will be able to come and join in the fun.
Our hosts at the Golf Club need numbers and menu choices in advance. Their menu is attached. If you can come please could you let me know and send me your food choices. You can email me on welfaresec@dartsailability.org . I need to get details to the restaurant by 5 December at the latest , so please could you let me know by then.
Prizes for the raffle would be gratefully accepted.
Looking forward to seeing you there.
Dolly Marsden
Welfare and Volunteers Secretary
Dart Sailability Group
by Dart Sailability 21 Nov, 2017
They raised £1,111.88 from our 6-month stint as preferred charity with the Dartmouth CoOp.
by Dart Sailability 30 Oct, 2017

What it takes to become a Keelboat Instructor!

Did you think it was just the ability to sail?

Five of us and Ed from Noss Marine Academy have been finding out.

We're refilling our pool of instructors to make sure Dart Sailability is always ready to teach members, new and established, the nuances of sailing. We need Keelboat instructors because we use the Sonar racing 7 metre keelboat, and the Hansa 303 boats that look very like tiny dinghies, but are miniature keelboats. We also have the Hawk 20, a boat that has a heavy metal centreplate and behaves far more like a keelboat than a dinghy.

Bob, our Chief Sailing Instructor for the past several years, has asked Anna, Ian H, Julie, Keith C and Tim to put themselves into the field of fire, and we've been joined by Ed to make us a round half dozen. Secretly we're trying to recruit Ed as a volunteer, too, but its a secret, Don't tell him!

Each of us has a different set of sailing experiences, a different background and a different level of boat competence. We range from a couple who tried out for their home nation's respective olympic sailing teams far more years ago that either cares to recall (neither were selected!), experienced offshore racers, club racers, hairy, scary dinghy sailors (the dinghies, not the sailors... Hmmm, actually I'm not so sure about that with a certain moustache....). We have a lapsed senior dinghy instructor, an existing and experienced dinghy instructor, a lapsed dinghy instructor, a fireball sailor, perhaps two, a cruising yachtsman who's never been on a sailing dinghy in anger, at least one powerboat instructor, people who've helmed and crewed on trapeze balanced dinghies, someone who's capsized an International 10 Square Metre Canoe a lot in the middle of Lake Windermere, a Finn sailor, a Flying Dutchman sailor, a Tornado sailor, so quite a skills portfolio. If you count carefully you will see more than six. Yes, some have done more than one thing!

There are two hurdles to leap before being allowed to take the course. Hurdle one is the RYA's safeguarding course. It's online, and common sense, but it's also multiple choice, and you only get two goes. Luckily Dart Sailability gives us a good concept already on safeguarding, so it's just a case of extending it to include those under 18 as a very special case. It's as much about protecting ourselves and Dart Sailability as it is about safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults. The RYA's Disability Awareness course we all take covers some of the same ground, but in a different manner.

Hurdle two is the pre-assessment. This is a day with a very grown up RYA person who decides whether the candidate is actually as competent as the centre putting them forward thinks they are. All six of us had to prove, or not, our competence at the core tasks we will be trained to teach. Not passing that gives rise to a discussion about whether the candidate should go forward to the course proper.

For this it's essential to be able to demonstrate manoeuvres simple and complex.

Simple is the correct RYA method of tacking, gybing, understanding the five essentials:

• Sail Set – do we have it right for the wind direction?

• Trim – fore and aft, are we too bow or too stern heavy? Why does it matter?

• Balance – is the boat being sailed as flat as possible for the conditions? Do we use it to control steering?

• Centreboard – we don't have one except on the Hawk, so can we explain the theory?

• Course Made Good – do we sail the best and shortest distance from where we are to where

we want to be?

Complex are manoeuvres to come back alongside, to pick up a mooring, to know how to slow the boat down, and to pick up a crew member (we use a weighted buoy, not a real crew member) who has fallen overboard.

So we need to know how to sail almost instinctively before we're taught how to pass those skills on to novices.

And that has given even the most experienced of us pause for thought! So we've been practicing on our Sonars to do our best to refine our skills and those of our colleagues so we can pass the pre-assessment. Well, all except Keith C, that is. He had a prior engagement trying to swim round the island of Crete. And not on Monday 16th October, when we were hit by the remains of Hurricane Ophelia. We could have sailed in the wind, heavily reefed, and it would have been great experience, but pointless in the global scheme of things. Besides, it was too close to the course itself to risk gear failures.

Tim was watching the developing weather over the weekend and kept the gang informed with the probability of cancelling top of his mind. He even went up river to check the moorings of all the Dart Sailability boats, Sonars, Farries Flyer, and all the vessels moored on the Noss Marina pontoons for the winter during the Sunday morning. He waited until the late afternoon and checked weather sources:

by Dart Sailability 23 Oct, 2017

“Hello Buoys!”

Tim and Bob and Keith C have been puzzling about mooring the two Sonars alongside each other, especially in the hard blows of this and probably next winter, and keeping them safe and well fendered.

With a couple of caveats, Tim's probably solved it, with a little help from Dart Harbour and a lot from Compass Marine. Here he is carryig the buoys in the same way he carried them to his car from Compass on Friday 20th October 2017, feeling very much like a cross between a weightlifter and a Barbie Doll.

by Dart Sailability 11 Oct, 2017

Dart Sailability Needs You!

As a member of Dart Sailability we would like your help in raising much needed funds through participating in this year's "Movember".

If you are not familiar with Movember, it is a world-wide initiative which involves men growing moustaches just for the month of November and getting sponsored by family, friends, neighbours, etc. to raise funds for charity with a goal of promoting wellbeing. Keith Cockburn already has a great head start!  I did it previously and raised £100 for Dart Sailability.

Previous years have had Movember themes such as prostate cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. This year, let's do it for our great organisation Dart Sailability for providing boating, sailing and wellbeing for anybody with any kind of disability.

For our male members, please take part and get those whiskers growing. Please try to raise at least £20, but any amount is welcome.

For our female members, please "adopt a man" and again try to raise at least £20 through encouraging their efforts and getting sponsorship.

If all members raise £20 it will give us £2,000 towards our boats, facilities, engines, maintenance, etc. In addition we could qualify for 25% extra as Gift Aid.  As a reminder we do not receive any funding from government sources and are completely reliant on donations and funds we raise ourselves.

Attached is a sponsorship form that you can use if you wish to. I will send a further email during November with details of what to do with the funds raised.

For anybody who would like to, please take "before and after" photos and send them to Jo Heaton. Jo will make a collage of the photos received and put them on the Dart Sailability website for us all to enjoy.

Please contact me if you have any queries. Many thanks and good luck!

With best regards



Mike Pleass

Trustee & Fundraising Coordinator

email: fundraising@dartsailability.org

by Dart Sailability 04 Oct, 2017


Sunday 1 October 2017 dawned pretty miserable, with a proper mizzle, and breezy. A small group of us set off by river for Totnes just after 10am. Our mission? To be part of the safety squad for the Dart Struggle Raft Race. Our patch was from the downhill side of Totnes Weir to the Rowing Club slipway.

Every year Dart Sailability offers to be part of the safety squad for this stretch of the race, and every year we try to field a mixture of ability and disability on our boats. It's not only part of being good citizens of the river Dart, it's part of continuing to prove that folk with disabilities deliver value to others, and it's partly a Public Relations exercise, to tell those who may need us that we exist and can help folk with all kinds of disabilities get afloat and have fun. It's not a fund raising exercise, that would dilute the Dart Struggle's own charitable efforts, it's just firmly a part of our own charitable objectives. We do receive a fuel reimbursement, though. It's cost neutral for us and offers us great training opportunities, too.

As Farries Flyer arrived at Vire Island she made her first rescue! A large banner saying “200 yards to go” had fallen from the bridge and was trying to wrap itself around a moored boat. The folk on Vire Island asked us to rescue it.

An hour and a half or so after our departure the Farries Flyer was tiptoeing its way through the shallows to anchor in the weir pool. It's the first time we've taken the largest vessel in the fleet up there for the event. Its role was to be a base and a control point for the two other boats, Support 3 and the aptly named Safety, our main safety boat. The first rafts had already completed the course. This is normal. Safety cover is mainly required by tired crews on big heavy rafts. Early crews are usually far more self sufficient, and safety cover for these is usually kayak based. Even so we have a plan to get a vessel there even earlier for 2018.

About two thirds of the way through the 51 or so rafts coming over the weir one arrived that resembled a submarine rather than a raft. Six seats under water and the paddlers, exhausted, wet, and cold, were half submerged when they remounted. A kayak safety team member came and told us that she was worried about two of the crew, but that they all wanted to finish. Tim and Roger on Farries Flyer called Andrew, Steve, Mike and Nicky on Safety and Support 3, and they escorted the raft to the finish, taking any crew who were too cold and tired to paddle aboard. Those rescued grateful enjoyed the crew's chocolate snacks and blankets.

The final raft of the 2017 Dart Struggle was a bit of a wreck, or we think it was. It was hard to tell! Three exhausted paddlers, though they said they had lost one earlier (no-one said where!!!), an upside down raft, and two tiny paddles. A chap in a Canadian canoe came up to us and told us it was the final raft. “I'm the sweeper,” he said, looking grimly happy. We named him “The Grim Sweeper” at once!

This was the time to weigh anchor and trickle down to Vire Island keeping that last raft safe for the final part of its trip. The three guys aboard forced themselves to finish the race. Go them!!! The Grim Sweeper picked one of them up in his canoe after the finish, and Safety transferred the two remaining crew to Farries Flyer in order to return to the raft to tow it to the Rowing Club.

Then our three crews took the next hour and a half or so to get back to base at Noss, put the boats away, and then declared it a job well done. The Dart Sailability logo was in front of new eyes, and quiet PR had been achieved, plus training our own folk. At the same time we'd helped other people to achieve their own objectives.

Would you like to be part of the safety squad next year? We might even enter a raft!! Who's up for either of those things

by Dart Sailability 03 Oct, 2017
A good mornings work to get everything moved from the green shed to our new container storage facility. Well done everyone.  
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 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.
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