With its well-heeled customers and beautiful yachts, the annual Ocean Marina Boat Show comes across as a very high-society affair. So the jumbo hot dogs with caramelized onions seemed a bit out of place.
But what the food stall located in a garden area of the Pattaya marina lacked in status it more than made up for in good taste and class. The stand was run by Disabled Sailing Thailand, a group of volunteers raising funds to start a sailing program for the physically challenged.
The group’s chairman, Francisco McGrath, gave a few reasons why the Disabled Sailing team is so passionate about the project.
Some of the volunteers at the Disabled Sailing Thailand stand, from left to right: Pat Tippawan, Lela Aukes, Carlton Whitfield, Simon Woolston, Julie Woodbridge, Xisco McGrath, and Peter Jacops. Volunteers not on the picture include Bob Gardner, Scott Finsten and Mike Davies.
“Sailing is very therapeutic, offering the disabled a sense of freedom and mobility that, in most cases, is not achievable on land for them,” he said. “A disabled sailor can go toe-to-toe – or bow-to-bow in this case – on the water with an able-bodied seaman any day of the week.”
However, in order to achieve that goal, custom boats need to be bought to meet the specific needs of the disabled and provide captains and crew with a safe sailing experience, McGrath noted.
“These projects already have been running for some time all over the world, including in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.”
He said the group needs the support of corporate and private sponsors.
McGrath said he was grateful for the support from the visitors at the Ocean Marina Boat Show as well as the Ocean Marina Yacht Club’s management.
The group’s first disabled cruise is scheduled for Jan. 16.
People will be invited to cruise large catamarans so they can get a taste for sailing. It is the first and only project of its kind in Thailand.
There will also be a fleet of yachts and sailing boats accompanying them, as well as a meet-and-greet reception afterward.
To support the Disabled Sailing Thailand, see their website at DisabledSailing Thailand.com or find them on Facebook.