Sailability is run separately for the most part from Oxford Sailing Club as a whole. And on Tuesday night one of the regular club instructors started chatting to me in the bar.
First he was asking me about Challengers and if we do racing, do we take part in the club racing etc.
Then he asked what sort of lifejacket I have. He explained that they have groups of disabled children come up, some of whom can't come out of their chairs. And he had found it difficult to put lifejackets on them. From the sounds of it that was to do with lack of mobility on their part and possible he was worrying about moving/hurting them too I'd imagine. So he was wondering what I use.
So I told him that I have an automatic lifejacket - not the one pictured on that site but similar. What I didn't tell him was that basically the only reason I have one like that is they were donated to sailability. And the person in charge wanted to be sure that people who would take care of them had them. Basically because we have a few very young kids and people with learning disabilities who like to go playing in the water and who it's hard to stop - automatic life jackets inflate if submerged past a certain depth or a certain length of time. And the the inner workings must be replaced. Cheaper than a new one but still a cost. A lot of those people do have their own sailability life jackets but different sorts.
I'd quite like to buy myself a different sort but that's another story.
He then mentioned that he'd ended up putting the life jacket around them and the chair. I said that probably wasn't a great idea due to the weight of a chair and also because they then wouldn't be able to get separate from it in case of need (provided they weren't already strapped in).
The next comment did make me smile though.
He said "Maybe wheelchair manufacturers could start making something built in"
I couldn't help it. I just looked at him and went "What, like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?"
He laughed and said he'd just thought that. Then we went back to our drinks and it was pretty much the end of the conversation.
But I must admit that the idea of a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang wheelchair is a good one. Personally I like the life jacket idea but it wouldn't be on my must have list. I'd really like a button to change it's colour when I'm bored. Or to match my outfit/mood/whatever.
How about you?