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Windjammer Challenge

Good Morning Everyone. 0 degrees in the door yard. Sunrise was at 0648 and cast a warm pinkish glow across the eastern sky. The last quarter moon is today. I can see it just to the south of us at this moment. Owning and operating a windjammer has some real challenges. This blog could be controversial for some folks. I do not mean it to be that way. I said from the outset that I was going to give folks a look behind the scenes, to share our imperfect lives. For those of you I upset I welcome your phone calls (800-992-2218). For several years I had the honor of sailing with Skip. Skip had some “disabilities”. He was blind. His cane held up a body that was not the once youthful and active vehicle with which he pursued his vigorous life passions. He was a sailor before this writer was even a pup racing around the waters of Buzzards Bay on the Cape. If I recall correctly, he had a beautiful wooden Wianno Senior. Skip always brought his family along on the schooner to give him a hand with life’s various unavoidable necessities. In his humanness Skip became a hero for me. He became larger than life in my mind for the joy, humor, and determination he shared with the world. Getting around the boat was not easy. But he did it and never complained about what he could or couldn’t do. I could accommodate Skip’s “special needs” not because he wanted special treatment but because his mind was flexible, ready to accept life’s limitations. On January 23, 2007 the Federal Register published Docket OST 2007 26829, a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) concerning transportation for individuals with disabilities aboard passenger vessels including small “mom and pop” windjammers. This NPRM is about policies regarding discrimination as opposed to physical accessibility standards. This docket proposes language under which we would need to operate our business and lumps us in with a wide range of passenger vessels. I think the windjammers are different in some respects than many other vessels. So as I read through this docket I have fears and concerns for our future. Will I have any right as a vessel operator to say that I can’t meet everyone’s needs based on any number of criteria while accommodating as many people as possible without putting my guests and my business at risk? What Skip taught me was that his disabilities were just those; they were his disabilities. He did not ask for anything more than a little help and we worked with Skip to make his sailing life as full as possible. While we have never wanted to say no to anyone, our schooner cannot be all things to all people. Skip saw that life has its limits and made his own access where he could. He dreamed within his limits and was an inspiring human being for doing so. I miss Skip and I look forward to meeting more courageous people like him with each and every passing summer.

PS I don’t know who took this picture of me reflecting on the sunset over Blue Hill Bay. For those of you I have offended you are welcome to print this out and use it for a target.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

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