Clear nights at sea fall as a diamond studded cloak over dusk. Planets and the navigation stars first among the revealed then the lesser lights before the great galactic smear of the Milky Way oozes into vision. The privilege of being a disabled person free to sail, to venture out into the wild, was never clearer than in these deep dark nights. Exceptionally, I have been freed from the restrictions of physical limitation, care schedules, finance and expectation which trammel and curb the lives of so many disabled people.
Sailing Trilleen is a literal and metaphorical survival capsule for me. Both a bulwark against the cold, hostile and merciless sea; and a transport of delight that liberates me from limitations of disability, freeing body and soul, to rejoice again in the wild and lonely places of the earth. In the exceptional gift of this freedom I wonder each and every night at sea, how many disabled people’s lives could be immeasurably enriched by freedom to access the wild?
One of the objectives of my Round Britain and Ireland sail has been to help improve waterside accessibility to waterside infrastructure. Without this many disabled people will always be denied the opportunity to float into the wildest places. Sailing Trilleen is inspired by the Andrew Cassell Foundation, a unique charity which helped me, and helps other disabled people become truly independent on the water. All the funds I raise go to support their work.
Donations are via Crowdfunder which accepts all debit and credit cards. Funds raised go direct to the Andrew Cassell Foundation shortly after you give.
On moonless nights the white of breaking waves around Trilleen are only faintly illuminated by starlight. It is then that I am most vulnerable as a disabled sailor. Denied anticipation of the deck movements much of my time is spent on a short safety line sliding or crawling cautiously from place to place. The wilds are unconstrained places without the safety rails built around all our lives, and especially the lives of disabled people. Nothing is without risk but as a personal choice the freedom to be immersed in nature: raw, sparkling and often very wet, is a great prize.
Most disabled people have conditions or live with treatments which mean our health is significantly more vulnerable than the average. Irrespective of our disability we are though, each human, whole and entire. Saving for the protections states place round people lacking capacity1, disabled people must be free to make choices and live life in ways which are fulfilling for us even if those choices bring enhanced levels of risk. This freedom of choice is a universal good: Disability is an identity that everyone is but a microsecond away from, and which almost all will eventually come to share in.
Lest the vision of these starry nights captivate you too much, there are other sorts of night at sea. Moonless with a cloud base that appears to touch the mast and a sea which spins and rolls the boat without mercy. These are the nights where more water comes over the bow than goes past the stern and the absolute lack of a horizon is nauseating and a little terrifying. But in every dawn comes the opportunity for another starlight night.
- In the UK, determined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005, as amended 2019; which sets a relatively high bar for the state to determine that someone ‘lacks capacity’. ↩︎