What a difference a hoist makes! 13 Jul 2021
What a difference a hoist makes!
Madi Haynes went sailing on Saturday, the first time in over a year. Covid struck then spinal fusion surgery took away any chance of getting on the water in 2020.
Madi first had access to her new boat, an RS Venture connect, which is a specially adapted disability boat, in 2019. Madi has severe Dystonic Cerebral Palsy meaning she is totally reliant on equipment and other people for almost everything in her life.
The boat in 2019 was amazing, Madi loved it. However, Mum and Dad did not like the responsibility or the physical challenges of trying to lift Madi from her wheelchair on the pontoon to a wibbly wobbly dinghy – especially with Mums dodgy hip! It was quite a terrifying time for Madi with the fear of being dropped either on to the pontoon or even worse ending up in the water!
With permission from the RCYC we set about raising money to get a Pontoon hoist – this is a way of lifting Madi from her wheelchair and into the seat on her boat. It is safe, secure, and comfortable for all those involved and Madi no longer has to fear being dropped or bashed – and she no longer has to trust Mums dodgy hip or Dads muscles!
With much help, over half of the money was raised through sponsor ship and donations from charities and a local new housing development company. The RCYC then offered to contribute the remaining amount. Covid struck, things got delayed but eventually when things were allowed to open again the RCYC carried out extensive works on the pontoon to allow the hoist to be positioned in 2 places and the hoist was purchased.
With the boat now in the water, hoist available for use, the right wind, the right weather and Madi being well the day came for the first sail of 2021. We were particularly excited as we did not have the dread of lifting Madi on to the boat. With buoyancy aid on, hoist in position, boat, and special seat in place Madi made her way on to the pontoon. It was so easy; we are well versed in using a hoist – Madi is hoisted for all lifts at home so with her specialist sling in place (for those with trunk control and who can transfer from one chair to another there is sitting sling which can be used) we attached the straps and off she went (it was that simple). Whilst Dad used the controls (a quite simple up and down) and pushed the arm of the hoist across (with Madi dangling quite happily on the end) Mum jumped (ok, climbed very carefully) on to the boat to help guide Madi as she was lowered into her seat. Once seated it was very quick to remove the straps from the hoist, to do up Madi’s seat belts and move the hoist back in to place ready for her return.
Full of smiles and with her dad, brother, sister, and friend also on board, off she went for a sail – despite being rained on (just a little bit) she stayed out on the water for almost 2 hours – and loved every minute. Madi then had the comfort that after a long sail and now being very tired, there was a very quick and easy hoist lift back from the boat into her wheelchair when she was done. We live in Leigh-on-Sea, Madi was so content and nicely tired after her sail that she then slept all the way home and slept well that night too and is looking forward to doing it all again…. even hoping to join some of the Otters at some point during Otter week.
Bryan and I would just like to thank everyone who was involved from raising the money, purchasing the hoist and to the changes made to the pontoon. In particular we would like to thank the Members and Committee of the RCYC (both old and new) and the Corinthian Otters for their support. Special thanks goes to Mark Wade/Ross Corbett for organizing all the works on the pontoon and to Phil Aspinall and Justin Waples for their support in bringing inclusive sailing onto the River Crouch.
It has made such a difference to us as a family in particular to Madi but we are also hoping that other disabled users or those that struggle to get on to a boat but are fine once they are on the boat will also find the experience a safe, quick, and easy method to get on to/to get back out on to/continue to get on to, the water.
Bryan and Sally Haynes