Mylor Sailability is a charity which gives people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties or health impairments the opportunity to take part in sailing and powerboating activities. The charity depends on donations and funding to keep the sessions as affordable and inclusive as possible.
We caught up with Tracey Boyne, founder of Mylor Sailability to find out more about what they do.
What’s the story behind Mylor Sailability and how did it get started?
About six years ago I was having lots of conversations with my mum about trying to set up something to offer accessible activities on the water that were as inclusive as possible. It wasn’t the easiest thing to get going and I had a few hurdles. It’s a very busy season here and being a mother of two and running my own business it was difficult to find enough time to dedicate to fully launching it. But when my mum passed away it gave me the drive to do it for her. The year after she died we had our first open day. That was October 2013. I sent a couple of emails out and 110 people booked for taster sessions, which was phenomenal. We started fundraising and it grew from there.
I get inspired by the joy Sailability brings to people. I’ve had parents of some of the younger participants say it’s changed their life, which is amazing. I think the water has a very tranquil effect on a lot of people. Some people with learning difficulties who come to us (especially people with severe learning difficulties who are often non-verbal) almost become a different person when they’re on the water, and that’s really lovely to see.
We have other people who thought their sailing career was over due to a condition that came on later on in life, and they’ve been able to get back on the water. It’s really rewarding.
What does your typical day look like?
I arrive about 8am and start by making sure we’ve got everything we need, from staff to run the sessions to supplies such as boat fuel. When the staff come in we have a quick meeting and figure out who we’ve got in today, what their needs are, who’s running which session, and which boats we need. Then we open up the centre, which takes an hour or so, and then our clients arrive.
Has the local community been supportive?
They’ve been absolutely amazing with their support. The Graffy family who own the harbour have been brilliant; I couldn’t have asked for more. Lots of local people have come out of the woodwork asking if they can help. That’s been the most humbling experience I think – people ringing up telling me they’re going to run a marathon to raise money for Sailability or they’ve just sold some teas to help support us or giving us their time and coming along to help out.
Can you give us a sneak peek of what you’ve got planned for 2019 and what you hope to achieve in the long term?
We plan to sell off one of our boats, Jackaroo, because we’ve been donated another boat, called An International H, which will be much more suitable for what we need. The boat we’ve been given was owned by a couple who used to race competitively all over the world, but it’s has been laid up for about 15 years. It’s a really well-kept boat but it just needs some cleaning off and a little bit of maintenance. So, our winter project is to get that ready. It’s got a bigger cockpit so that will be really helpful.
We’re also getting a support seat for our Hawk 20 boat to help people who can’t sit unaided. We’ve got our accessible powerboat that lets wheelchair users wheel straight on and people with mobility problems to step on with ease and dignity. But our sailing boats, although they’re accessible, they’re not currently as accessible as we’d like them to be. We’ve got a hoist coming, and one we’ve got the seat sorted out on the Hawk we can install the hoist. Hopefully that will help us get people in and out of the boat more easily, so it will take sailing to the next level of accessibility.
What impact has Mylor Sailabilty had on the local community?
The impact’s been huge. Before I set up Mylor Sailability there wasn’t much in Cornwall or even the South West to help get people with any kind of extra need on the water, not on coastal waters, anyway. We’re one of the only a few places with a Wheelyboat (wheelchair accessible powerboat) in the whole of Cornwall.
We reached our two-year projection for the number of people we hoped to get out in the water in six months. We went from two sessions a week to about seven because the demand was so huge. It’s important to us to try to keep it as affordable as possible. Some people who sail with us have money and jobs, but a lot of people don’t, so for them it’s a constant struggle. We do a lot of fundraising to keep the price as affordable as possible – it’s just £5 for under-18s and £10 for over-18s for a two-hour session. The price has really helped: it’s cheaper than going to the cinema.
What kind of clothes do you prefer to wear when you’re working?
The clothes we wear tend to be loose fitting, comfortable and warm, as it’s always colder on the water than what you think. So we also wear waterproof trousers and jackets and we have a lot of safety equipment we have to wear, including buoyancy aids, lifejackets and non-slip shoes.
What’s the best thing about living and working in Cornwall?
Cornwall’s a really magical place to live and bring up children, and Mylor’s a beautiful spot. I grew up in a very busy inland town, so the pace of life here is wonderful. I also like the seasons – I’m ready for each season when it comes. There’s no place I’d rather be when the sun’s shining.
How Seasalt socks are helping raise money for charity
For every pair of single socks sold, we’ll donate 20p. The money that we raise from sales of our socks will go to a variety of charities throughout the year. Mylor Sailability is the latest charity Seasalt has chosen to support through this initiative. With your support, we’re aiming to donate £10,000 by the end of this year. Find out more >