We have lived aboard our narrowboat Mistol for the last five years after retiring from careers in health care. During our professional careers we worked with groups with physical or cognitive impairment and also with minority and disadvantaged groups from marginalised cultures.
We enjoy life on the canals where time slows down and the gentle pace enables those passing through on boats plenty of opportunity to appreciate the scenery, notice wildlife and chat to passers-by while the towpaths are colourful places for walkers, joggers and cyclists.
But not everyone is able to walk, jog or cycle or to hire a boat … which brought us to this venture
In the summer of 2015, on a Boaters Christian Fellowship mission to an old mining suburb in the midlands, amongst those visiting our boats were the young people from a special school. They enthusiastically tumbled on board through the side hatch, delightedly exploring it from bow to stern. One particular lad, Jack, so taken by the experience, was able to join the short trip a few days later to turn the boat and within a few minutes was at the helm steering the boat along the canal with minimal guidance.
So the vision was born for a day boat to give a safe environment for those with additional needs to explore and enjoy the waterways and to learn canal and boating skills. With enthusiastic practical and prayer support from our home church; St Michael’s in Bath and the encouragements of RYA Sailability(1), whose aim is to make boating accessible to all, we found a suitable boat and embarked upon the slow process of getting all the official paperwork together. With church friends and colleagues from the Christian charity Canal Ministries(2) with whom we work, we have drawn together a small team of experienced boaters ready to ‘share God’s love on the waterways’ through welcoming those with additional needs onto nb Litania.
Sailability is the Royal Yacht association charitable arm committed to making boating available to people with disabilities
Canal Ministires is a registered charity whose mission statement is ‘to share God’s love on the waterways.’