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  • Writer's pictureKyrby Brown

Churchill Fellowship Day 33 and 34: Sailing in San Diego

On Friday we drove about two hours South West from Rialto to San Diego. We are staying on Harbour Island which is next to San Diego airport and looks out into the various Marinas. It’s another truly beautiful location and, once again, has quite a different feel to the other places we have visited. It’s very humid here and also quite quiet, having spent some time on the Marina at home it feels like a familiar setting (minus the freezing wind and rain of course!).

Image Description: Me in my wheelchair looking out towards Downtown San Diego across the marina.

I travelled here to learn about and take part in adaptive sailing with Challenged Sailors San Diego. They have 8 16ft Martins and sail out in small groups every Friday and Saturday. It turned out they were actually training new volunteers this Saturday but they were kind enough to let me go out with one of their companion sailors anyway which was very kind of them. I can’t thank them enough for fitting me in and being so accommodating.

The atmosphere on the pontoon was really positive and relaxed. They use a manual hoist to lift sailors into the boats and the boat itself is fitted with an electric assisted sailing system (Servo) meaning I could have full control of the boat. This system uses a 4-way joystick to control tiller direction and pull in/let out the main sheet and jib. It’s very clever and can be adapted to be operated by individuals of all abilities.

Image Description: An image of the boat seat and the system, the black box at the bottom of the image houses the joystick and can be paired with a sip and puff system for those unable to use their hands.

I had the most amazing time on the water with my companion, Erin. The weather was pretty perfect and we had enough wind to sail smoothly around the harbour area. It is truly an incredibly freeing feeling being out on the water and the system we used allowed me to easily set the sail and relax between tacks.

Image Description: Me out on the water in the boat with Erin behind, it’s smooth sailing with full sails and a consistent wind.

Challenged Sailors San Diego are entirely funded by donations and grants. The use of the boats is free to their sailors, which is truly incredible. I got a real sense of community and shared experience when talking to the group which is so important in this kind of organisation. They have an inclusive mindset and the group is social - I got the impression that the dock assistants and companions got just as much out of the experience as the sailors which is truly special. The equipment itself was well-maintained and of high quality which added to the whole enjoyment of the experience. The beautiful location and conditions also helped with that to be sure!

This visit is actually the last on my fellowship itinerary which feels extremely odd and somewhat bittersweet. I am confident that I have made the most of my time in the US and have learned a great deal, and not just about adaptive recreation! Tomorrow I am travelling to my final destination where I’ll be staying for a week of pure holidaying outside of my fellowship. I plan to write a couple more blogs before I sign off, I just can’t believe how fast it’s all gone.

This was truly a great way to end my adventure, with some lovely people and an activity I truly love. I feel so so blessed to have been given this opportunity.

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