The Disabled Sailing Association
Who are the DSA?
The DSA was formed in 2005, its purpose to provide people with a wide range of disabilities, their families and carers, an opportunity to experience the pleasures of safe and affordable yacht sailing.
Since then, the organisation has grown, and now includes members of all disabilities, ages and backgrounds, from the local area and beyond. It’s run entirely by volunteers and supported through charitable donations and sponsorship. The DSA is based in Torquay and affiliated to the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Sailability Group.
Do I have to be able to sail to join the DSA?
You don’t have to have any sailing experience to sail with the DSA. You can sit back and relax or join in with the crew and pull on a few ropes. You can even take the helm under the watchful eye of the skipper!
Will you teach me to sail?
The DSA is an RYA Recognised Training Centre (RTC) and offers shore-based and on-water courses, including Competent Crew and Day Skipper RYA qualifications. All courses are open to members seeking to improve their seamanship knowledge and skills.
Who are the crew?
The crew are all volunteers who have been assessed as competent by the DSA Training and Standards Group. Most DSA skippers hold RYA qualifications and all have many years sailing experience. All crew have been fully DBS checked reflecting our high safeguarding standards, given that we are dealing with more vulnerable adults and children.
What boats do we sail?
We have two spacious yachts, “DSA Free Spirit” and “DSA Freedom”. Both have been adapted to take wheelchairs and fitted with extra grab handles for safety whilst moving around the boats.
Both boats can be accessed via a portable bridge for ease of embarking and dis-embarking.
When do we sail?
We can sail 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year, depending on demand from our members and crew availability. Most commonly we go out on day sails, starting mid-morning and returning mid-afternoon or later depending on where we have been. Our busiest months are April through to October.
During the longer summer days, we can also sail in the evenings and watch the sunset, which is very popular with members. In the winter months we undertake crew training with a focus on on-water safety procedures.
WHERE do we sail?
Usually day trips around Torbay, as well as further afield to Dartmouth and beyond, we have even taken groups to France and the Channel Islands.
The DSA participates in the Annual Eddystone Charity Sailing Pursuit event which raises funds for the DSA and other charities and provides a competitive challenge for the crews!
What do we see when we are sailing?
We regularly see various species of dolphin, porpoises, seals, sea birds and other interesting wildlife and the views of the coastline are spectacular, so please bring your cameras!
How much does it cost?
There is a small annual membership donation and members also give voluntary donations after each sail. Alternatively, you can join as a supporter and receive the quarterly DSA magazine.
WHAT about COVID-19?
The DSA has a set of covid-secure procedures which are designed to minimise the risks of catching Covid-19 during sailing sessions. These procedures are published on our website and updated in line with any changes in Government or RYA policies and guidelines.
What health benefits are there?
There is no doubt that all members have benefited in some way from their sailing experiences with the DSA. Our boats have been named DSA Freedom and DSA Free Spirit by our members because it’s that feeling of elation that brings so much relief and healing into their lives. It also helps them to focus on their abilities, rather than their disabilities, which is a positive step towards a healthy and active lifestyle.
You too, could potentially benefit from joining the DSA, so if you would like to find out more, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.