During February and March we help six Sailability sessions hosting Bass Coast Specilists School; South Gippsland Specialist School; Yooralla, Leongatha; Interchange, Wonthaggi; and SCOPE, San Remo. Over the six sessions we hosted thirty-nine participant and twenty-two carer involvments, and had great support from nineteen club members.
The sessions comprised the visitors going out in yachts and motor boats, with the former tending to head north into the bay, and the latter initially heading for the Cleeland Bight vicinity to try to catch a prize from the sea – which they nearly always did. Colin Diggins built up a real reputation with the squid, missing out on a catch only once over the six outings. There was a rumour going around that Col went out the night before the sessions and planted them in his favourite spot! Actually, Col secretly hoped that no squid would be caught because he always ended up with ink all over himself.
After giving the fish a hiding, the motor boats tended to head north to join the yachts. There was great excitement one day when the occupant of three boats were treated to the playful antics of two seals swimming and frolicking exuberantly between two pylons under the bridge. During one very calm-weather session four or five boats were fortunate enough to be entertained by a seal near the top light. Having his peaceful slumber interrupted by this little flotilla, he decided to put on a show by playing in a club of seaweed and waving his flipper. The visitors thought this was just fantastic!
Many of the participants have visited us a number of times now; and are becoming quite familiar with us – and vice versa. It is not only they who enjoy and clean benefit from the sessions. Increasingly, our club volunteers make comment about positive observations regarding individual participants; and it is easy to observe their own sense of fulfilment in helping to make those experiences and reactions possible. Personally, I found it very rewarding to observe on non-verbal autistic child who was behaving in a quite agitated manner in the clubhouse, sit peacefully and relaxed – with a huge smile on his face – the entire time on the boat.
Many thanks to all member volunteers who enthusiastically assisted over these sessions – and who locked the session dates in their calendars immediately upon receiving notification of the dates. I would particularly like to acknowledge Tom and Jan Rawlings who brought their own boat from Rhyll especially for all six sessions.
The next Sailability program will commence in the spring. If you are interested in assisting in any way, please let Alen Garrett or myself know.
Although the visitors enjoy our current Sailability program of being taken out in big boats, we are really looking forward to acquiring four Hansa dinghies and getting them really sailing. The virtually unsinkable Hansas are used in the true Sailability programs throughout Australia; and we have begun our quest to get four of these by submitting an application in the latest round of the VicHealth Active Club Grants program. We have applied for a grant of nearly $10,000 to purchase on Hansa dinghy and its associated accessories. We will find out if we have been successful in May.
Also, we are in the process of gaining approval from Bass Coast Shire and relavent government agencies to build a shed in which to store the dinghies and their associated equipment. This shed will be located outside the eastern fence of maintennce yard. We are confident