"In their myriad forms, boats, boating and waterborne pursuits have an enormous attraction and play a key role in the lives of many. However, opportunities for disabled people to participate are few and far between. The Wheelyboat Trust aims to redress this balance and give disabled people the chance to pursue their favourite activities afloat. They provide a wonderful service and long may they continue."
SIR MATTHEW PINSENT CBE, PATRON
Our work benefits people of all ages with a wide range of sensory, learning and mobility impairments. Wheelyboats can be operated independently by disabled people who are less dependent on others; they can organise their own trips and can train for and attain RYA powerboating and other qualifications increasing their skills and enabling them to mentor others. (The Royal Yachting Association's new scheme 'Powerability' has the specific aim of encouraging more disabled people on the water in motor and powerboats). Those at the opposite end of the scale of independence enjoy the sensory stimulation of being on the water. For people with complex needs like autism and epilepsy, boating activities have been shown to provide a calming experience enabling them to take an interest in their surroundings. For older people whose mobility is declining, Wheelyboats play an increasingly important role in helping them remain active.
We don’t operate Wheelyboats ourselves, instead we help groups, organisations and waters open to the public acquire Wheelyboats that they operate on behalf of their members, beneficiaries, visitors, etc. These include:
- Sailability groups
- Outdoor education centres
- Watersports schools and providers
- Special Educational Needs schools
- Sailing clubs
- Country parks
- Boat hire firms
- Sea Cadets
- Sea Scouts
- Canal trusts
- Organisations set up to operate specifically to operate their own Wheelyboat
- Angling clubs and fisheries
For more information, download our Guidance Notes for Acquiring and Operating your own Wheelyboat.
Our most important and time consuming role is fundraising to support individual Wheelyboat projects. Wheelyboats are unique and expensive items of equipment that we design ourselves and have built to order. Raising funds to discount their cost has been our policy from the outset and helps ensure that Wheelyboat supply and availability is maximised across the UK.
To find out about the current batch of Wheelyboat projects we are fundraising to support, click here.
Wheelyboats are hand built and fitted out by our boatbuilding partner, Jim Coulam, at his factory in Lincolnshire. Wheelyboats are built to order once all the funds for the project have been raised. Build time for a V20 is about two months. Wheelyboats are supplied on-the-water ready with a comprehensive range of optional extras including trailer, seating, water ski/towing post, A-frame and navigation lights, GPS, chartplotter and fishfinder, storage and bimini covers. We recommend Suzuki outboards for their performance, reliability, fuel economy and value for money.
A Wheelyboat's launch is often the culmination of several months of hard work planning and fundraising. It is important to create a splash announcing the new Wheelyboat's arrival and our PR managers, Firebird PR, help us work with the new Wheelyboat operator to plan the launch and promote and publicise their new facility. We publish a list of all Wheelyboats in operation, their location and the activities they are used for so that disabled people can find out where to use them. To download the list, click here.
The role Wheelyboats play in enabling disabled people to participate fully in waterborne activities continues to expand. Our longevity and the positive health and welfare benefits our work brings about is a direct result of our programme of new Wheelyboat design and innovation. Over the years there have been seven distinct Wheelyboat models that have expanded the horizons of their disabled users from fishing on small lakes, the Trust’s original purpose, to powerboating on inshore waters and all manner of activities in between. The latest model in development is the V17 and a V24 is also on the drawing board.
We have teamed up with insurance company, IRCM, who have created bespoke cover for Wheelyboat operators. The policy includes comprehensive cover for hull, machinery, equipment and other fittings, third party liability, passenger liability and employer’s liability (for volunteers skippers and crew). To find out more contact Mark Elcocks at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01902 796793. www.marineinsurance-ircm.co.uk
'AFTER SALES' SUPPORT
Wheelyboats are low maintenance but when necessary we can arrange for them to be serviced, repaired and, after several years of use, fully refurbished. We supply replacement fittings, e.g. new bow door seals, and other spares and parts including outboard motors.
When the time is right, we will help operators upgrade their Wheelyboat to a newer model. We will recover the old Wheelyboat, repair and refurbish it and find it a new home where it can continue providing a service to disabled people.
We believe it is important to keep in touch with Wheelyboat operators to find out how their Wheelyboat is doing. We send out a survey form every other year enquiring about the Wheelyboat's location, activities it is used for, its upkeep and condition and the numbers of people who are benefiting from it.