(RoRo is short for 'roll on-roll off')

I am Mike Wood and I was severely injured in a road accident in 1978. I damaged my spinal cord. Paralysed from the chest down and confined to a wheelchair, for a few years I lived the quiet life expected of a person in a wheelchair.

But I am an active and determined person, I became National Archery champion, represented Great Britain in Shot, Discus, Javelin and Triathlon, winning many International Gold medals. I retired British Record holder of all events. Angling was next on my list and the difficulties of getting to the water side got me involved in constructing Lakes with paths for disabled people and then sailing.

In 1989 I was introduced to cruising yachts, a weekend cruise in an unconverted yacht. That weekend changed my outlook on life for ever. As it has done for so many other people, you either love or hate sailing, if you love it you cannot put into words the emotions the sea brings out in you.

I tried to go sailing on my own but found that the organisations that the public think provide 'sailing for disabled people' actually have little or no provision for the less mobile disabled. I also found that many other disabled people would really like to sail but were refused, were ignored or could not afford the very high costs of some organisations, or simply could not use the toilets on boats.

Many times I had heard people say 'something should be done', so I decided I would "do some thing". I would design and build a yacht that ANY disabled person could go on. I never dreamt how difficult it would be. At first I was frustrated, then I became angry, and then I became very, very determined. It took two years to do the research and form a charity the Thomas Morley Trust and a further two years before Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal honoured us by launching the first of our yachts.

All from voluntary subscription, we designed and built the world's first completely wheelchair accessible ocean going yacht our 'Verity K' she has changed many people lives and taught us many lessons. Then using all the experience we have gained over 6 years of providing real sailing for disabled people we designed and built the amazing Ro-RoCat Spirit of Scott Bader.

More than 30,000 disabled people their families and friends have now sailed with the RoRo project, which annually provides more sailing than RYA Sailability and the Jubilee Sailing Trust added together.

RoRo is still the only organisation that both has the facilities and will let any type of disability use them.

Based in Portsmouth on the South Coast of England The DSA Ro-Ro Sailing Project was formed in 1992. Ro-Ro thoroughly researched the needs, existing facilities and future plans for sailing for disabled people..... Ro-Ro found that....

- contrary to public perception disabled people in general ‘do not have access’ to ocean sailing

- no organisation (except Ro-Ro) has facilities to allow ALL TYPES of disabled person to sail

- no organisation (except Ro-Ro) is planning facilities to allow ALL TYPES of disabled person to sail

- three independent surveys discovered that over 60,000 disabled people would like to go sailing

So Ro-Ro embarked on a project, building in phases to provide all the facilities required to enable any of the 60,000 disabled people in the UK interested in sailing to participate on an equal basis with able bodied people at any level they wish.

The Questions

Why ‘sailing’...? No other single activity provides the breadth and depths of interests, skill, excitement, tranquillity and yes, even fear, as sailing a real yacht. There is a mystique and romance about yachts and sailing, this is even greater amongst many severely disabled people because they can’t even get on them to look at them... the desire is even greater for them because they are denied it by a ‘physical condition’ that they can do nothing about.

Is’t sailing expensive? Sailing does not have to be expensive, ‘Verity K’ the worlds only charter wheelchair accessible cruising mono hull, purpose designed and built with no expense spared to give comfort pride and dignity to disabled people... cost 240,000 to build.... signs are that she will give good service for at least 20 years and could provide 10,000 sailing places in that time, shows us that this beautiful practical yacht could cost 24 per head over its life.

Why ‘another disabled sailing organisation’.... ? A real public miss-conception because there is only one organisation that has the equipment and will allow any type of disabled person to use it, DSA Ro-Ro Sailing Project. For examples, probably the three best known organisations all do very worthwhile work but, RYA Sailability do not own boats. Time & Tide only took disabilities without mobility or mental problems. The Jubilee Trust says wheelchairs are not allowed on some voyages, people with mental disorders are not allowed at all.

Ro-Ro already has .....

- 2 accessible yachts, 2 dinghies, a RIB

- fully accessible club house, pontoons, toilet/shower, bar, parking

- formed a registered charity to run the project

- produced a monthly national leisure magazine for disabled people to research needs

- carried out extensive research on existing facilities

- carried out surveys to check what disabled people actually require

- carried out surveys to check what the take up of facilities will be

- raised over 2,000,000 to fund the charity

- designed and built a 35 foot Ocean going mono hull accessible to ALL types of disability

- designed and built a 35 foot Ocean going catamaran accessible to ALL types of disability

- organised accessible training facilities

- developed an innovative plan to produce revenue for continuing cash flow

- developed an innovative plan to capture its clients

- introduced Hobie cat sailing to disabled people in the UK

- helped individual disabled people achieve their ambitions

- assisted Paralympic competitors

- provided sailing for over 2000 people per year

- helped other organisations and individuals achieve their ambitions

Ro-Ro will......

- conduct an intensive media campaign to inform disabled people about Ro-Ro facilities

- design and build a large yacht for long distance cruising, training and leisure

- design and build a number of smaller yachts for training, racing and leisure

- provide the infrastructure to keep the organisation going

- subsidise financially those who need it

- provide the necessary care for those who need it

- organise stimulating events to encourage 1,000 new people per year to try sailing

We would like to share all the research information and experience we have gained to avoid other people having to do things that have already been done
..... we can help with advice, fund raising, research.....