Potential new members are assessed for previous sailing skills and boating knowledge. Their individual special needs and equipment are recorded for the sailing programs. Membership fees are at a subsidized rate of $50 per year.

Members schedule their sailing times (usually for an hour or longer) on the website booking page or by phone and meet us on the dock at the Club. Members may usually sail once a week (Monday through Friday) and are charged $15 per sail, which is also a subsidized rate.

Many sailors are able to get in and out of the boat with minimal assistance. However, if this is not possible, sailors can be transferred using a sling and hoist. A sling is placed under the person, the straps attached to a battery-powered lift which raises them out of the wheelchair. The lift is attached to a pivoting davit which allows us to move the sailor above the seat in the boat and safely lower them into position. The same procedure is done in reverse for getting back into the wheelchair. This is a very safe transfer method which requires no manual lifting.

Able Sail Toronto has two davits and battery powered lifts with a weight rating of 500 lbs each.

Assistive Equipment

For sailors who need help controlling the sails: Windlass to sheet in and out the sails. The mainsheet and jibsheet are connected to a winch type system, that acts as a multiplier, increasing the strength of the sailor. With a light touch of a button, the sails can be sheeted in or out.

For sailors who need help steering because of reduced strength of the arms and hands: An Autohelm is fitted to the boat. The Autohelm has a small joystick, like a video game control, that can be used to steer the boat with very little effort; it acts as a multiplier increasing the strength of the sailor.

Integrating the windlass and the autohelm together: The module to integrate is operated with a joystick; with a light touch of the fingers left or right the sailor steers, and with a light touch up or down the sailor trims the sails on or out.

For sailors who do not have the use of the arms and hands: The boat can be even further adapted: the windlass and autohelm system can be controlled with the sailors breath using a module called “sip 'n puff”. By inhaling or exhaling gently into a straw, the sailor can move the rudder left or right, and with a second straw let the sails out or winch them in. In this way high-level quadriplegics – with no movement below the neck – can independently sail the boat. The level of freedom, independence and control experienced by these sailors is exhilarating, challenging and life-changing.