When we are out we see many people on the towpath in mobility scooters and wheelchairs. It is great to be able to offer a facility to everyone and to be fully inclusive.
Having different types of boat helps us to be able to suit different users and having several boats enables groups to go out together.
We now have five Katakanus. Each is like a canoe catamaran and is very stable. Each seats up to six people which means that the crew can be of mixed ability but each person can contribute equally and is encouraged to be involved, to be active and to have fun. There is always at least one leader from our team.
We can offer a variety of trips, such as litter picking, wildlife watching, photographing, painting and drawing, stopping for a picnic, or playing the ukulele and singing. As more of the restoration opens up, we will be able to go further.
We also have a Wheelyboat, called Zephyrus, the west wind. It is an aluminium craft, a bit like a landing craft with a flap that can be lowered at the front for access. It can accommodate most types of wheelchair and can be operated from a wheelchair. The boat can take up to eight people, depending on the number of wheelchairs on board and it also has flexible seating. The boat has quiet, electric engine.
The Wheelyboat gives an experience of moving along the water, near the water and in all weathers which other types of boats cannot do. It can be a participatory experience and an opportunity to be independent in an environment which has its challenges but is relatively safe. We encourage people to be active and participate at a level appropriate to users. It is also an opportunity to socialise and share in an activity.
The electric motor is environmentally friendly and provides a quiet environment for chatter and to hear wildlife.