Volunteers Frequently asked questions
What does Dart Sailability do?
We have a large fleet of specially adapted sailing and powerboats to take sailors with a wide range of disabilities afloat to enjoy The River Dart. Activities include enjoying relaxing and therapeutic cruising to enjoy the scenery, to learning to sail dinghies and larger keel boats, and to gaining qualifications to skipper power boats.
Many of our disabled sailors, with some support from volunteers, are race-winning participants in our own and local sailing regattas. The club also has an active and friendly social programme throughout the year off the water for those who seek it. Have a look around our website for examples of our wide range of activities.
Do I have to be able to sail?
No. There are many jobs ashore needing volunteers. However, if you would like to learn to sail or to drive a powerboat, we can train you. We are an RYA Training Centre.
Do I need any qualifications or experience?
No. All you need is enthusiasm and willingness to get involved supporting our sailors. We will provide all the training you need to carry out any of the volunteering roles that you choose to do. You will also be offered the opportunity to gain qualifications for your own sense of achievement and leisure or for future employment. Volunteers have the opportunity to learn the basics and then progressed to be a qualified RYA Senior Instructor.
I have business qualifications and experience, can you use them?
Yes please. We are always seeking volunteers willing to help advise and administer the charity and our many supporting activities. Any time and help you can offer is most welcome. Have you thought of being a Trustee or Patron?
Do I have to commit to a number of hours?
No. Volunteers come when they can and are not expected to commit in any way, although most try to come and help at least once a week. We operate between 9am and 2pm for morning sessions or 1:00pm to 5:00pm afternoon sessions on Tuesdays and Saturdays during the summer and you can attend for all or part of a session. The sessions are based on tides, we are unable to get the boats out at very low water.
Can I try it out?
Yes. Come along during any session. One of our volunteers will be pleased to show you around and take you out on the water if that is what you would like. We have our biggest influx of new volunteers at the beginning of the season (normally mid April) and that is when we carry out volunteer training. However, late joiners will be given special attention to get them up to speed.
What sort of jobs do volunteers choose to do?
- Helping disabled sailors to put on life jackets and prepare to go on the water (we don't get involved in personal care).
- Assist sailors onto the pontoons and to get into boats.
- Prepare boats for sailing.
- Some volunteers help with administration and liaison with schools and others instruct First Aid and Disability Awareness courses
- Operate safety boats, drive motorboats,
- Skipper and crew the 20ft sailing keel boats
- Teach sailing or power boating skills.
- Help to crew racing boats. We participate in local racing regattas.
- Help to maintain our boats and engines.
- Help to manage the paper work; handle publicity, update the website, raise funds and all the other jobs associated with running a successful and developing charity
What checks do you make on volunteers?
We support some children and vulnerable adults, so all volunteers are asked to complete a standard DBS check which is carried out in strict confidence. If you have any doubts then discuss your situation with the Club Principal or our Welfare Secretary.
Do I have to pay to join as a volunteer?
There is an annual fee of £1.00 for all members. This nominal sum covers insurance and a membership card. All courses, certificates and associated books are provided free of charge.
What training must I attend?
All volunteers are given induction training and expected to complete a Disability Awareness course and, in some circumstances, a First Aid course. All courses, including those leading to maritime qualifications, follow RYA guidelines and there is no cost to the volunteer.
Would volunteering help my future employment prospects?
Yes it could. Some of our younger volunteers have used their experience and some qualifications to get jobs in the marine and health care professions. Volunteering experience is always a useful addition to a CV. We are always pleased to be able to provide job references for deserving volunteers. They generally also return to help us in their spare time.
Will I get wet?
While it is unlikely that you will get very wet we ask that you bring a waterproof, a towel and a change of clothes and shoes just in case. Please bring your own waterproofs in case of bad weather.
Do I need a life-jacket?
We will provide you with a life jacket or buoyancy aid which you must wear on the boats and the pontoon.
What should I wear?
Depending on the weather you should bring warm clothing. Several layers are better than thick clothes. Wear soft soled shoes – deck shoes or trainers are ideal. Do not wear anything that you would not want to get splashed or soiled. Remember it is always cooler on the water!
What else should I bring?
If it is expected to be very hot, bring sun cream and a hat. You might want to bring a bottle of water, and any medication you might require.
What about bad weather?
We watch the weather forecast carefully on sailing days, and cancel sailing if it is expected to be very wet or windy. Check the website before leaving home if in any doubt – the “Today’s Sailing” information is updated the evening before and last minute cancellations are Emailed too.
Bring waterproofs and a change of shoes in case we are caught in a shower.