Sailors with disabilities newsletter


SailTime through its fleet of boats is a proud supporter of Sailors with Disabilities – their latest newsletter gives you an insight into the great work they do


Croxton Special School and SWD volunteers in Melbourne in March, 2015.

Croxton Special School and SWD volunteers in Melbourne in March, 2015.

The past four months have been a period of success and change for Sailors with Disabilities. Backed by a motive to grow, SWD took steps toward expanding its reach and capabilities.

Promising new ventures introduced fresh faces to the SWD team, and helped develop strong relations and networks.

Most notable of these was our trip to Victoria in which the team conducted workshops and sail-days for the people of Melbourne for three weeks.

Similarly, our presence in Hobart at the famed ‘Wooden Boat Festival’ was highly received as SWD’s mission attracted many volunteers and interested patrons.

To our fantastic staff and volunteer team’s credit, we’re proud to announce that, yet again, almost all of our sailing days were booked out for the months of February – May. We received some absolutely glowing feedback and testimonials from our clients which are now viewable on our updated website.

These months for Sailors with Disabilities were invaluable and filled with new experiences, all of which aided in cultivating a growing presence amongst our partners, clients and the public.

Our time in Melbourne

In early March, SWD travelled to Melbourne to engage and interact with some exciting new people. Alongunnamed-1 with making some strong connections, the team ran pilot programs aboard the yacht, Kayle, for Victoria’s many extraordinary children.

The trip was a long time coming, with schools from Melbourne expressing interest in climbing aboard. This prompted SWD volunteers and crew to travel to Melbourne and run programs for three weeks, with the hope of establishing a permanent presence at Port Phillip.

Hundreds of children had the empowering experience of manning Kayle, and, “while initially slightly worried, they soon have a big smile on their face,” said David Pescud, SWD Founder.

Establishing a base at Port Phillip will allow SWD to run simultaneously in Melbourne and Sydney. This prospect has only been conceivable with backing from our new generous patron Bryan Dorman. His involvement has been the catalyst to working towards SWD having permanent presence in the state.

“The early feedback is positive,” said David. “We’ve had a great reception and we’re looking forward at things to come.”

Kayle sailed down from Sydney, and David believes regular trips of this length will be a “great training process” for the team.


Clontarf Inverell Students

The boys from Clontarf Inverell Academy came all the way to Sydney for a 2-day follow-up program after unnamed-2their eight-week program last year. They remembered their knots and were dressed to the nines in clean and ironed SWD T-shirts.

One of the highlights of the two day experience was when, unplanned, one of the students pulled out a didgeridoo on the harbour and began playing, music vibrating across the deck and waves. Other students joined in with sticks and yet others danced in the cockpit.

Back at the CYCA at the end of the day, they regaled us with an impromptu corroboroee!

Glebe Pathways started Week 1 of their 8 week‪ Winds Of Change program. Clontarf Inverell in red and Glebe Pathways in Blue!

On this day the groups mentored each other and worked together.

Of his experience working with the students, John Marty said:

“We had an enjoyable and rewarding time with these boys last year, but it was wonderful to see the growth in their maturity and confidence on a follow-up day this year.

It was also lovely to see the pride these boys had in their Indigenous heritage. Who would have thought we would have been treated to singing, dancing, dream-time stories and the didgeridoo? What a wonderful day for all the crew.

Oh, and I think the boys had fun sailing with us too.”




unnamed-3We would like to heartily congratulate Gordon Reid who has given his service as a volunteer skipper and disability program supporter with Sailors with disABILITIES for over a decade. Gordon has and been awarded the MEDAL (OAM) OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA IN THE GENERAL DIVISION, noted on the Governor General’s website.

“Mr Thomas Gordon REID, For service to the community, and to people with a disability. Lions Clubs of Australia: Registrar and Trustee, Australian Lions Children’s Mobility Foundation, 1998-2007; Assisted in establishment of the Lion Hart Walker Programme, the pre-cursor to the Foundation, 1996. President, Ku-Ring-Gai Lions Club, 1989-1990; Organiser, Annual Community Service Awards, current; Chair, Organising Committee, Annual Charity Golf Day, current; Member, since 1980. Charter President, Coromandel Valley Lions Club, 1980. Sailors with disABILITIES: Volunteer Skipper, approximately 10 years. Monday Disability Program Skipper, since 2006. Weekday Volunteer Manager, current.”

Volunteer story: Greg Pugh

Going forward, we will showcase some of our volunteers. It’s our way of saying thank you and showing our unnamed-4appreciation for their contributions. Our volunteers are the backbone of our organisation and without their continued commitment SWD would not be where it is today. In this edition we talk to Greg Pugh about his experience aboard SWD.

“When Greg Pugh was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis six years ago, he lost his job and his marriage. Enduring some truly harrowing emotions, Greg entered a bleak period in his life, marred with uncertainty.

“I was essentially sitting on the couch every day, not doing anything,” said Greg.

However, six months ago Greg made a decision that would transform his life and flip his circumstances. Having minor experience in sailing, Greg decided to join ‘Oceans of Hope’, a sailing program for people with MS. Soon after, he found himself at ‘Sailors with Disabilities’, and has since become one of our greatest volunteers.

Since joining our team, Greg’s life has radically changed. He has sailed over 3000 nautical miles on world class 50ft yachts, competed in the Sydney to Hobart, and is now a valued member of the SWD team, supporting the ‘Winds of Joy’ and ‘Winds of Change’ Programs.

In his short time aboard, Greg’s work has been unparalleled. He has expanded SWD’s reach, establishing affiliations between ‘Sailing Sclerosis’ and ‘SWD’, and kick-started an MS sailing day in Darling Harbour.

However, most recently, Greg sailed down to Melbourne with the team to support our start up initiatives in Victoria. Having walked a similar path to many of those who climbed aboard, Greg could tell the experiences that SWD were able to provide to the children of Melbourne were invaluable.

Read the whole story here on Sailors with disABILITIES site. A link to MS Australia:


Volunteer page changes

unnamed-5We updated our volunteering page: SWD is about giving people the opportunity to consider themselves in a new light, to consider the possibility—whether you are disabled or disadvantaged—of what the future holds for you.

In short, we need you to help us create optimism where it did not exist. We need your passion, enthusiasm and skills to help us achieve these outcomes.

If you’re thinking of volunteering on-water, as a crew member, you need to be able to commit to 3 months training course on a Wednesday, for half a day, in the mornings or afternoons. This is to get you ready to be able to sail as part of a team and also work with the diverse range of youth and adults we have on board.

So if you have some time available, particularly weekdays, please fill in the form and accept our apologies for the red tape.
Our team is looking forward to meeting you on or off the water!

Off-water volunteers do not need to do the three month training program, but can come straight through to the relevant team and begin working on one of our projects. READ MORE ABOUT VOLUNTEERING HERE.


Sailing update

unnamed-6SWD Skipper, John Whitfeld, spoke to us about the experience training crew for some of the bigger races coming up this year: Sydney to Southport and, later, Sydney to Hobart.

So far the crew has been racing in the CYCA Winter Series races that take place on Sundays on Sydney Harbour. These are small steps towards getting race-fit for the big races. For example, the crew could not put up the spinnaker earlier this year, but have progressed to being able to use the spinnaker.

The crew sailed offshore together for the first time this week, for some it was their first time outside Sydney heads. Able-bodied crew worked with crew with limited physical movement up and down the cockpit to understand the support that all crew will need to effectively work together. Processes around all crews needs will be devised throughout the Winter series and offshore sail weekends to enable as many individuals to participate as possible.

With six weeks until Sydney to Southport yacht race beginning on the 25th of July, the crew has a great challenge ahead of them.

John said, “I feel we can work with the people we’ve got. We’ll sail the boat according to our skill level. It’s important to get all the guys to participate and feel part of the crew.”


The Australian Wooden Boat Festival

unnamed-7The highly coveted Australian Wooden Boat Festival returned to Hobart on the 6th of February. Held on the picturesque Constitution Dock, the four day festival showcased some of the greatest of Australia’s nautical craftsmanship and maritime History. Hundreds of Australia’s most stunning wooden vessels flock to Hobart for the four day period, making it the largest festival of its kind in the southern hemisphere. And, where there’s Boats, SWD is never far away.

Invited down by festival staff, David Pescud and team had the pleasure of presenting our cause to the crowds. It was an endeavour of great success as the philosophies and narratives of SWD were highly received by festival goers and the festival board.

“Everyone was very much on our side” said David. “We made some strong contacts and things are looking promising”.

What’s more promising is plans to expand our operations to Hobart by building an outreach program with a local disabled children’s group to take place when the SWD crew arrives in Hobart after the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. READ MORE HERE



Springvale Special Development School

Springvale Special Development School

We receive outstanding testimonials from almost all groups who come on board for our sailing programs. Here are a few from the last few months. Read more here.

From our Victoria campaign:

“Hi All

Well, what a highly anticipated and exciting day for our 11 students and staff. The students were champing at the bit to get to the boat this morning and wow, were certainly not disappointed!

Your staff/volunteers welcomed us all like long lost friends. Their friendly manner and encouragement to the students and staff, put us at ease enabling us to enjoy a very relaxing and wonderous time. For our students to be able to steer the boat, move to the stern and work the winch, let alone get on the boat, saw smiles as big as the ocean. The more time we spent on the water, the more relaxed the students became and took in all the scenery, all very happy and eager to have a go at all that was offered; it was a shame it had to end. They love the t/shirts and wore them proudly back at school and on the bus home. They will have lots to tell their families.

Communication and paperwork was excellent making all go smoothly from my end.

To you all from us “A BIG THANKYOU” for the opportunity and for giving up your precious time to allow our student to experience the magic of sailing, something they would never have, or maybe never will again, do if it wasn’t for you. We are all looking forward the photos and sailing with you again. Enjoy the rest of you time in Melbourne and thanks again.

Jill Thomson. Teacher, Springvale Park Special Developmental School

Thank you for your help

unnamed-9In May over twenty volunteers helped clean out the SWD cubby in Rushcutters Bay. The sky cleared and, when we began to dump paraphernalia on the sidewalk, the neighbours thought we were having a garage sale. We found gear we didn’t know we had or had lost, and we recycled stuff to you!

We unearthed what appear to be archaeological relics from another era—photos of SWD’s early days in the 1990s and now volunteers are working on an archiving project to preserve the images and other material we discovered.

It was a huge job. Thank you for your time and energy. Thank you for climbing stacking moving loading and sorting. Thank you for the few extra ring-ins including two young muscles—Jo! Thank you to Sandi who was up at 5.30 am SMS and emailing you. If you head to our Flickr page you can see photos of the team efforts.

To those who have offered to do follow up jobs (The Wyard team) we haven’t forgotten your offer. Again on behalf of the boat maintenance team, the Winds of Joy team, the race team, and the operations team:



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