The Sailability Taranaki Trust was thrilled to recently receive a $44,000 grant from the New Zealand Community Trust towards a storage shed.
Sailability was established in 2012 and enables people with disabilities to experience sailing on the Waitara River, 20 minutes north of New Plymouth.
Sailability Taranaki has over 300 members.
"The grant from NZCT will allow us to construct a storage shed to house the yachts and rigging, ensuring the safety and longevity of the gear so that the sailing programme can continue into the future," spokesperson Jan Holdt says.
The Hansa yachts are built in Australia for the world-wide Sailability programme. They can take two people side by side or sailed by one person. Steering is done with a central joystick and volunteers encourage the participants to steer the boat on the water.
"People on our programme can either be alongside an experienced yachtsman or in most cases sail independently. The uniqueness of the 303 yachts is that they allow disabled sailors to experience something that is often impossible on land without any assistance," says Jan.
"The look of sheer delight on the face of someone who has been consigned to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives and then find themselves single-handedly sailing a 303 Hansa yacht is a sight to behold," she says.
Sailability Taranaki has had to store some of their boats in a container next to the Waitara Boating Club, with the others squeezed into the clubrooms.
"School groups attend sailing days during the week and open club sailing is available each weekend over the summer months once sailors are confident to participate," says Jan.
"The ability to provide the programme is due to the amazing volunteers who continue to support Sailability Taranaki."