A typical day for a volunteer at Dart Sailability
Volunteers arrive an hour before the disabled sailors to set up our shore base and the boats. The Officer of the Day , (known as the OOD) is in charge and will direct what needs to be done. When everything is ready, the OOD calls a briefing which is attended by all volunteers and sailors. He details the activities for the day and allocates duties to the volunteers based upon their experience and qualifications. Where possible he will try to rotate duties so that every volunteer gains a wide experience, understands what others are doing and avoids boring repetition.
Safety is key to everything we do. There are three main positions which are filled by the most experience volunteers. These are "Shore Party Leader”, "Pontoon Master” and "Safety Boat Skipper”. Volunteers and sailors are managed by these officers depending on where they are. Communication is by VHF radio, for which training is given.
The session will last for two or three hours and can involve as many as fifteen boats on the water doing different activities such as fun races or games in dinghies, cruising up or down river, or learning new sailing skills. At the end, all sailors are returned to shore and the boats and other equipment tidied away.
Some volunteers stay to have a picnic lunch at the benches overlooking the River.
The sessions have to be run efficiently and safely, but that doesn’t mean they are not fun. There is lots of laughter and banter to be heard on a Dart Sailability day.