21st August 2015
His name may be Horatio, but crew member Mark Harker clearly fears this bear sadly lacks the Nelson touch when it comes to taking the helm of the RNLI lifeboat at Cowes.
Horatio is the new cuddly mascot of the Cowes Sailability Club which encourages able-bodied and disabled sailors to participate on equal terms aboard various small vessels. A visit to the RNLI’s Cowes lifeboat station was all part of the charity’s effort to raise its public profile and all-important funds (it needs at least £10,500 a year to function despite having an army of volunteer helpers).
Naturally this pushy bear could not resist taking the top spot aboard the Atlantic 85 ‘Sheena Louise’ in the station. But who could say ‘No’ when Cowes Sailability’s commodore, Patrick de Peyer, used a radio-controlled gizmo to remotely swivel Horatio’s head? An engaging characteristic that particularly fascinates young people and underlines the organisation’s proud aim of ‘putting smiles on faces’.
Based at Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes Sailability has a fairly new catamaran, Dougal II, in its fleet, designed to provide easy access and suitable security for wheelchair users.
Also in the line-up are a 4.2 metre RIB, a Drascombe longboat and a Crabber 17. In addition the club, supported by an army of volunteers, makes use of other craft from time to time, including the sailing catamaran Spirit of Scott Bader, owned by the Disabled Sailing Association.
Of the 193 people taken out by Sailability in the recent Cowes Week 102 were disabled, each taking turns to steer, said Patrick, who is also a life-long supporter of the RNLI.
And what’s the betting Horatio will soon be pictured clumsily grappling with the controls of these boats, too!
Author: George Chastney, Lifeboat Press Officer