SailBlind Program

Come Feel the Wind & Let's Set Sail

SailBlind welcomes visually impaired or blind adults (ages 18+) with the opportunity to learn the sport of sailing. No sailing experience is necessary for visually impaired or blind sailors to participate, we welcome all skill levels to join in on the fun!

SailBlind is a recreational program that offers various ways to participate, based on your goals and objectives for the summer. Whether you are just looking to go for a boat ride, looking to receive sailing instruction and hands on experience, or looking to refine your prior sailing skills and knowledge, we offer all of these!

Schedule

SailBlind takes place every Saturday throughout the season from 9:00am to 11:30am. You will be on the water for 1.5 hours. The 2024 season will run from Saturday, May 2, 2024 through September 28, 2024.

Important Dates (2024)

  • April 2024  – Guide Orientation via Zoom
  • April 2024 – Sailor Orientation via Zoom (will be recorded)
  • Saturday, May 4, 2024 at CBI – Guide In-Person Orientation
  • Saturday, May 11, 2024 – Start of SailBlind Season
  • Saturday, June 1, 2024 – Join our Walk for Independence team!
  • Saturday, September 28, 2024 –  Official end of SailBlind Season

Location/Travel

We sail out of Community Boating (CBI) in Boston on the Charles River.

Please note: there is no parking lot nor a drop off spot at the Community Boating boathouse location. We advise those using a rideshare company to be dropped off at our “meet-up spot” explained below.

Meet-up Spot

Sailors and Guides will meet on Saturday morning at 9:00am in front of the Whitney Hotel (170 Charles St, Boston).  Our group will depart from the Whitney Hotel promptly at 9:00am and walk over to the boat house together.

Parking

Discounted parking is available at: Mass Eye And Ear Parking (MA-28 & Embankment Rd & Storrow Dr, Boston). To receive the discount, bring your parking ticket to the front desk at Community Boating where you can pay and receive the discount.

Uber/Lyft/The Ride

The drop off address is the Whitney Hotel, 170 Charles St., Boston. It’s recommended that you provide specific instructions to your driver to drop you off at the corner of Cambridge and Charles Street. *Make sure your driver is going to Charles Street in Boston and not a different town.

Cost

Sailors can participate in the SailBlind (Saturday mornings only) program FOR FREE.

Universal Access Program (UAP)

As a member of SailBlind, you are required to enroll in Community Boating’s Universal Access Program (UAP) program. The membership fee for this is $50 or reduced fee of $1 up on request. Members in the UAP can schedule appointments to go sailing with one of the Community Boating Instructors outside of the Saturday SailBlind sessions by booking on the CBI “Schedule an Appointment” website page.

Sighted guides sail free and will receive a complimentary season membership to CBI, while sharing their time and expertise with the sailors.

Guests & Guide Dogs

Sailors are welcome to bring guests along! It is suggested to only bring 1 guest at a time to provide ample room for the other sailors in the program who have RSVP’d. Guests under 18 years old with adult sponsor’s supervision at all times. The adult supervisor will need to complete a CBI waiver on behalf of the child. 

If you are a guide dog user, you will work with the SailBlind director to determine the best plan of action for your dog while you sail. 

*Children interested in joining a junior sailing program, please contact Sam Pierson, Director of Sailing Programs, sam@community-boating.org

Safety

Safety and fun go hand in hand. Safety is one of our top priorities. All participants (guides & sailors) must wear life jackets while in sailboats. Life jackets are provided. Close toed shoes are also required. Other clothing suggestions will be discussed during the virtual Sailor Orientation Meeting and are also mentioned below.

Weather

Sailing occurs in a variety of weather conditions and participants must dress accordingly for the day’s weather. Clothing suggestions will be reviewed during the virtual Sailor Orientation that takes place before the start of the season.

Slight inclement weather will not be cause for cancellation. However, thunderstorms or extreme high winds would result in a cancellation. Sailors will be notified on the Friday evening before a Saturday session if sailing is canceled.

What to Bring/Wear

  • Required: close toed shoes, water/water bottle (CBI has water fountains).
  • Recommended: hat, sunscreen, snacks, change of clothes, warm layer, rain coat.

In general, we recommend bringing a small bag with you that includes the above items. If you’d like to bring your bag with you on the sailboat, we recommend you bring a waterproof bag as there’s a chance your bag will get wet. You also have the option to keep your bag locked indoors at the CBI facility in a locker. Two lockers are available and locks will be provided. Life jackets will be provided but if you have one you like, you’re welcome to bring it.

The Sailboats

In our program, we typically sail in 22 foot Sonars. The Sonar is a keelboat with a fixed counterweight underneath, which provides stability and lateral resistance. These tend to be bigger boats with more stability and more sail area! These boats can comfortably accommodate 4 people total.

4 SailBlind sailors smiling and talking to each other on a boat

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Resources

  • Sense the Wind (Amazon Prime): Sense the Wind is a documentary journey into the fascinating world of competitive blind sailing, one that follows four visually impaired sailors as they train and compete, while exploring the unique community that has grown among these brave athletes as they prepare for the 2013 Blind Sailing World Championships and future Paralympics.
  • Book “Seven-Tenths: Love, Piracy, and Science at Sea” by David Fisichella (Amazon Prime): An engineer whose life is in shambles meets a blind oceanographer who spends her life at sea. This story mentions the SailBlind program’s founder, Arthur O’Neil, and how he worked with the blind oceanographer.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about SailBlind, please contact sailblind@carroll.org or 617-969-6200 ext. 245

If you would like more information about Community Boating or the Universal Access Program, please contact Sam Pierson, Director of Sailing Programs, sam@community-boating.org, 617-523-1038 ext.16