Let some of our volunteers tell you about volunteering with Chesil Sailability
We asked some of our volunteers to tell us a little bit about their Chesil Sailability volunteering experiances:
I have been volunteering with Chesil Sailability for the last two years.
I have sailed all my life and have had the benefit and enjoyment from a wide variety of sailing activities; from ocean racing, coastal cruising, dinghy racing and windsurfing. Volunteering with Chesil Sailability is a thoroughly rewarding way of putting something back into the sport that has given me so much. I have helped in the safety boats, on the pontoon and with skippering a Hawk 20. It is wonderful to see the very evident joy of the sailors as they experience the freedom and companionship of sailing in small boats in Portland Harbour. Many of the volunteers were already friends from other local sailing activities. It is a great group to be a part of, so supportive, creative and fun.
Every time I volunteer for Chesil Sailability (which is quite frequent), I end the session on a high. One of our sailors tells me every week that Tuesday evenings is the high spot of his week and I feel the same. Our sailors convey their joy in all sorts of ways, one laughs every minute she is on the water, another becomes tranquil and engaged (not his normal state). Nowhere else do I spend hours in the company of life-affirming, happy people - even if the winds have put them at the edge of their comfort zones!
After I retired I was looking for a way to give something back and make use of my free time. I found Chesil Sailability through a friend and was pleased to combine my sailing hobby with giving others the chance to enjoy sailing.
I found the other volunteers welcoming, helpful and keen to share their knowledge about assisting people with disabilities achieve their goals afloat.
I have helped in a number of roles during Sailability sessions, Safety Boat Crew, Sailing Boat Crew, Base Radio Operator, Hoisting Assistant and Duty Officer. Each of these roles provides variety and a way to meet and interact with our Sailabilty Sailors.
I give about 6 hours a week to the Sailability sessions and also help out at some fundraising events but there is no expectation of anyone doing more than they are able.. I can honestly say that I have found volunteering with Chesil Sailability more enjoyable and rewarding than I expected.
I've been a volunteer with Chesil Sailability almost from the start. I've seen it grow from modest beginnings to a point where we have five 2-man boats and four boats capable of taking several sailors.I moved to Weymouth because I love the sea, and soon found myself learning to sail - first as "talking ballast" then as "incompetent crew" on a small yacht. Because I enjoy it so much, when I saw an opportunity to share the fun with others, I didn't hesitate. On a Tuesday afternoon I meet our disabled sailors, get them kitted up and take them down to the boats on the pontoon. Many of our sailors arrive early so they can sit and chat before their sail, stay around afterwards and have become friends with us and each other. They have such fun and are so appreciative, that Tuesday is my absolute favourite day of the week. My colleague Angela and I bring cake, and the donations swell the funds. I've also had the opportunity to get involved with RYA events for disabled sailors, which has been truly inspiring.
The problem is, we're a victim of our own success - the extra boats mean we can take more sailors out, but we really need more volunteers. Whether you want to get on the water, or help on shore, our friendly group will welcome you and find just the right job for you.
I got involved in Chesil Sailability at the start, as our daughter found Sailability a great way to get back into sailing through a long term illness (she is now a volunteer with us, an inspirational story in its own right)I really enjoy the weekly Sailability sessions, and it’s always a priority in my diary! I have different roles at a session, either on shore or on the water depending on what is needed; all the roles are interesting and the flexibility works well for me.Three aspects of Sailability particularly stand out for me:
I find the sessions very friendly and sociable, with sailors and volunteers alike
I am passionate about people having the opportunity to progress, and I get a real buzz when someone learns a new skill, from steering for the first time to sailing solo
When we support the occasional training or competition events for sailors from across the country, I love giving them the opportunity to sail on our world class waters.
I joined Sailability to help on shore and behind the scenes – I’m not a sailor myself but I’ve seen the pleasure my family get from sailing. And now I get a great buzz from seeing the pleasure others get from sailing with Chesil – from someone who used to sail highly competitively but that was closed after a stroke, and then as part of Chesil’s race team became a national champion, to others who have never sailed but now love the freedom sailing offers them. I’m lucky to see all the sailors as they come off the water and take their feedback – their exhilaration is catching. Their only demands are for more wind or more sailing with the dolphin who joins us occasionally!I’ve made new friends amongst the sailors and volunteers and really value my spent with the group.
As the sun goes down over Chesil beach at the end of a session I just think ‘Wow! What a great way to spend an afternoon.’