In November 2005 a group of people with disabilities wanted to share the thrill and freedom of seagoing sailing which they had experienced with other disabled people.
The Disabled Sailing Association was formed and was registered as a charity in March 2006. In our first season we sailed in a 20 ft Felicity called Moonshine. Lottery grants and a local fundraising charity “SEEING” provided life jackets, safety equipment, moorings and training.
In June 2007 we purchased a second hand 26ft Westerly Centaur called Sainte Foy. She was adapted to help less ambulant people by fitting gates for easier access.
In November 2007 DSA won the Big Lottery Fund Peoples Millions competition run by ITV. This enabled us to buy a brand new Class A Ocean sailing 35ft Hanse 350 and adapt her for wheelchair users as well as our other members with disabilities. October 2008 saw her official naming and commissioning by HRH the Princess Royal. She is called FREEDOM, the name chosen by our members.
In 2010 Freedom took a group on her first cross channel sail to St. Malo and the Channel Islands. She has taken part in the Eddystone Charity Sailing Pursuit and spent several overnight stops in local ports allowing members to experience living on board.
As DSA has expanded Moonshine and Sainte Foye have been sold.
In November 2014 we again won the Big Lottery Peoples Millions and have purchased a brand new Hanse 345, Free Spirit, with easier access from the stern.
The DSA is run entirely by volunteers, who have CRB clearance to work with children and vulnerable adults and attend a Disability Awareness training courses. Our Skippers and Crew are RYA qualified, or are working towards qualifications, or have several years sailing experience. All our boats are equipped to RNLI and coastguard standards. We provide life jackets and wet weather gear.
The DSA encourages the inclusion of family members and carers so all can enjoy the sailing experience.
There is no charge to sail but a box for donations is located on each boat. Membership, for those wishing to become more involved is £20 per annum (Dec15) running from 1st April. For those who do not want to sail but are interested in our work there is a Supporters membership of £10 per annum.