Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sailing with the Blind

Okay, who saw the title of this post and excitedly clicked through in hopes of hearing about another of my misadventures? Tell the truth ...

Kris and I were asked by the club if we would be willing to come down on Sunday and help out with the Oral Hull Foundation's Adventure Camp. Sight-impaired people from all over the U.S. come to this camp outside of Portland for a week and experience a range of adventures, including sky diving, bungy jumping, white water rafting, and sailing.

We had a discussion about cleaning the boat up that went something like this:

Greg: We should take the powerwasher down early and clean up the boat.

Kris: Why? It's not like they can see if it's dirty.

Greg: Well, that's true. Wait, though, they can still feel if it's dirty.

Yeah, our life is pretty mundane, when we aren't flipping the boat over or ramming into houseboats. The most striking thing about this exchange is the role reversal. If you know Kris, you know OCD. It took me a minute to figure out she was messing with me.

So, off we went this morning, bright and early to clean up the boat and prep for sailing with the blind. There was a moment of worry when I wondered if the blind folks followed Love and Coconuts online, and if so, then how closely. However, that worry passed, since I don't think the internets or the google are braille-ready yet. If we're lucky, we won't have to defend any of our past actions to a board of nautical inquiry, or whatever.

There was a brief introduction to the assembled sailors, where us captains talked a little about our boats. Questions were mostly of the how-wet-will-we-get variety. With light winds, we assured the crew it would be a gentle day. Surprising to me, there were quite a few who were disappointed. About half wanted to really crank it out there.

Dorothy and Kat ended up in our boat. They were our age or a bit older and we had a wonderful time working up and down the river for about an hour-and-a-half.

We got passed by the Thistles, which have about twice the mainsail as us, and we were able to outpace the Day Sailers, which probably weigh twice as much as us.

We had a nice little fifteen minutes toward the end of the session where a healthy NE breeze filled in and pushed us down river at a good clip. When we made the turn to come back to the club, the breeze died out and we had a drifty, light air meander back to the dock.

The sight-impaired enjoyed lunch in the clubhouse and we said our goodbyes.


David said...

Yeah, I was thinking it. Still, a good story.

Dan said...

I think this is a very cool thing you did!

Carol Anne said...

Actually, I was expecting an account of this sort, and that was the reason I clicked over. I love reading stories about helping people to sail who otherwise get left out of sailing -- disabled people, kids from troubled backgrounds, and so forth. The ASU sailing team, upon which Gerald sails, has a strong handicapped sailing program; the team commodore last year was a quadriplegic.

Greg and Kris said...

It was very much a worthy cause and Kris and I had a great time, to boot. We'll do it again, if the chance comes up!

Chris Jonas said...

You said something very curious - that you didn't think the blind could access the internet. Very, very wrong. Blind people use computers as well as sighted persons, they simply use speech software to make the words audible. Glad you enjoyed the outing, hope you get a chance to get more involved with blind sailing. Cheers!

Bloc hornet said...

indeed very cool story