Chapter 1 Lytton Tornado

 We put a lot of thought into searching for a boat before making a final choice; we had a set of requirements, needs and wishes like most other people I guess. Without a doubt, I dare say these vary from person to person I also guess some are fairly universal. I’m no expert this certainly isn’t any kind of recommendation or even guidance, but the following were considerations used to make our choice. 

  1. What type of boat? Daysailor, Trailer sailor, Coastal, Cruiser, Bluewater.
  2. The condition of the boat any history or known maintenance etc
  3. Fit for our purpose, facilities to suit our needs
  4. Suitability for the waters we plan on sailing, including mooring types
  5. Fittings and equipment, VHF, Depth sounder, Speed, Navigational aids.
  6. Rigging type, condition, manageability. Can it be adapted like a singlehanded sailor 
  7. Engine type, its condition and suitability to our waters and currents
  8. Adaptability to personal needs, Working and living space
  9. Space to move with my personal restrictions safely
  10. Safety has to be paramount for all, Everything from use to abandoning safely if needed.

Some of our considerations may seem out of place but they do fit with our circumstances: I’m disabled so as most things in life can be a bit more of a struggle and nèed a little more thinking through, I have restrictions of movement, fitness and energy levels and very rarely do anything alone. One of the reasons for coming back to sailing was so that we had an activity together. 

So the ability to set up single-handed simply gives cockpit controls giving us safety and better control. Despite all our best efforts reality means trialling things to see if they actually work for us, we knew from the outset that there would always be a real possibility of failure, all said and done I’m stubborn, hopefully not stupid or selfish; you can’t sit back and reside to things never happening without trying.

This brings a serious side to things primarily safety for me, crew and in worst case scenario anyone who may be called to my aid if in trouble. For me beyond all, I have to know that if I need assistance it will only be due to a scenario that can befall anyone! Not one that is a direct result of my disability or misjudgment of ability; I can’t risk anyone’s welfare.

If you’re in a similar position I hope this and what follows is of interest, Ill avoid inspiring till we get further down the road. Even if you decide it’s not feasible or possible for you to own and sail there’s always a way to sail thanks to many devoted groups around the country just waiting to take you on an adventure.

RYA     Sailability Click Here

Probably the best sailing association combining their knowledge and giving disability an opportunity to enjoy great sports.

DSA     Disabled Sailing Association  Click Here

A truly exceptional charity set up to allow disabled people to get on the water regardless of impairment and or ability.

So here’s how our decisions panned out

1/ Our sailing is going to be for pleasure and leisure, so racing wasn’t on the agenda, We would like to e able to stay aboard for the odd night or two, so head, galley bunks were in. Due to my movement, I needed an area I could move around but also somewhere I could sit and lie comfortably if needs be. We would love to go costal and visit a few local places but don’t want to struggle with too large a vessel, we aimed at a trailer sailor and twin keel to suit or local waters. When Latte came up she fitted the requirements and on a budget.

2/ Despite Latte being left for a year or two she had been looked after in her past. New engine fitted in 2015 and currently has approx 300hrs. Most sheets and lines seem good but dirty, sails need UV strip on Genoa and mainsail seems good. Shes in need of a clean and some paint, along with replacement anodes and alike.

3/ She has enough room for us and after some adaptions, she will hopefully be very me friendly; new steps down into the coachway and lines and sheets redirected to the cockpit will make a massive difference.

Why a bilge keel?

We are in the Bristol channel, our moorings are predominantly mud swing or drying out in mud, shallow creeks or rivers that can somewhat drain away; the worlds second greatest tidal difference a staggering 10 Mtrs means adaptability. For me I knew my option was a twin bilge keel giving us a 2.3Ft draft and ability to dry out: Here we gain another bonus regards maintenance, if I can dry out I can take my time at ground level for cleaning, scraping and anti fowling as well as checks on through keel fittings etc.

Why set up for singlehanded when I couldn’t safely do that?

The other thing was knowing I could set up for singlehanded; now singlehanded isn’t an option for me, but the rigging lines and sheets set up as such means that predominantly I can manage from the cockpit and if someone needs to go forward it will be infrequent and done by a more stable footed person. LATTE isn’t set up as a singlehanded rig but it won’t take much to alter her and get it just as I need it, also I have managed to wonder about forward to check rigging and cleats for maintenance aground so that’s a bonus.

As time goes on I’ll add to this blog whenever I can, I’ll be backtracking for a short time covering stuff that’s already occurred, this is everything warts and all rubbish dirt and magic moments all here.  “Latte” is not looking her best she has been abandoned for one reason or another on the first inspection I took a breath and looked past the coat of neglect and saw that just maybe things were not as bad as they looked or was it wishful thinking, either way, decision was made and the journey began.

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