Tag Archives: Adaptive sailing

Shake-A-Leg Miami – The Adaptive Sailing Experts

Sailing and the ocean doesn’t necessarily bring the term “wheelchair-friendly” to mind, but Shake-A-Leg Miami for the last 26 years has been intent on changing this. One of the most well-known adaptive sailing organizations in the world, Shake-A-Leg Miami thrives on bringing disabled individuals out onto the water and so much more.

From offering adapted kayaks and guided sailing lessons to providing summer camps and youth programs, Shake-A-Leg Miami’s offerings are impressive, and everything they do is housed in their equally impressive home base – a large facility right on the water in Miami, previously owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard.

To renovate the facility into one that is universally accessible, Shake-A-Leg Miami entered into a partnership with the City of Miami, giving in-need youth and others access to this wonderful facility. Many able-bodied kids from economic-hardship backgrounds sail for their first time because of Shake-a-Leg Miami.

Shake-a-Leg’s origins did not begin in Miami, but rather was founded in Newport, Rhode Island by Harry Horgan (a paraplegic and past SCI Superstar). In 1990, Harry’s surgeon at the Miami Project, Dr. Barth Green, persuaded him that his program should be moved to Miami so that it could be open all year round, and that is exactly what he did. The program has expanded immensely since moving to Florida.

Harry on-board one of Shake-A-Leg’s ships.

A 501(C)(3) nonprofit, Shake-a-Leg Miami offers a huge variety of water-related activities and services. They offer several programs for kids. One of the most popular is there We Can Sail program, where every Saturday they offer a sailing and sports day for kids with disabilities and their families. They also offer their nationally recognized initiative, Spirit of America, which provides boating and water safety education to middle school students with and without disabilities.

And for those with disabilities, Shake-a-Leg Miami offers a Wellness Center where you can do yoga, strength training in an accessible gym and pilates all in a barrier-free environment.

 

They also teach sailing instruction and kayaking to people with disabilities and they offer a variety of social activities. If you’re interested in competing in sailing on an international scale like the Paralympics, you can train at their sports center and/or wellness center as well.

Not only do they have accessible kayaks, they also provide rides on accessible powerboats and sailboats, including the latest addition to their fleet – The Impossible Dream – a 60 foot catamaran financed and lead by Deborah Mellen.

Deb Mellen on the Impossible Dream.

The Impossible Dream is on a mission of showing how purposeful design and technology can open up the water and improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. Impossible Dream will be sailing up the east coast this summer. Visit impossibledream.us and learn how you can go for a sail.

Harry on the Impossible Dream while docked in Rhode Island.

Meaning to literally get a move on it, “Shake-A-leg” is doing just that; helping people get out on the water and do something that seemed impossible, over and over again all year round.

Visit them online: Shake-A-Leg Miami

Watch the Videos

Shake a Leg Promotional Video Final Cut HD

Dr. Mitchell Tepper, a quadriplegic, visits The Impossible Dream @ Shake-A-Leg Miami

Dreaming with Adventurous Wheels — Cuba Journey: The Impossible Dream

From cruise ships to fishing boats, there has been some outstanding accessible ships built over the last two decades, but in the world of yachts, few have been given the full accessible treatment, which is exactly what makes the Impossible Dream so extraordinary.

Initially created in England by Mike Browne, a paraplegic injured in a skiing accident, he decided to build the Impossible Dream, a 60ft catamaran, so he could sail independently. The ship was also captained by Geoff Holt in 2010 when he became the first quadriplegic to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

  

But after owning it for 10 years, he wanted others to experience it so he sold it to Deborah Mellen, a paraplegic living in Miami, who had fallen in love with adapted sailing post-injury after being introduced to the sport by Shake-a-Leg (a Miami-based adapted sailing organization). It was fate the way the boat ended up in her hands.

After discovering sailing, she wanted to help acquire a larger ship for Shake-a-Leg. When she found out the Impossible Dream was for sale, she bought it on the spot after taking a tour.

The Impossible Dream is impressive. It has state-of-the-art controls and a fully accessible cockpit with a knob on the helm for easier steering and push button sail hoists allowing anyone to raise the sails. The ship has a stunning 85 foot mast as well to accommodate the boat’s width of 27’.

 

It also has a large remote that controls sheeting and furling from the anywhere on the boat. And if the weather is nice, there are two outside accessible driving stations/helms on each side of the boat.

                         

And that is just the steering controls. Another impressive accessible feature is the continuous single level deck that goes around the entirety of the ship and accommodates up to 8 wheelchair-users. It also has 4 titanium wheelchair lifts that go to two accessible hulls. Within these levels you’ll find four cabins. All four cabins are wheelchair accessible and each hull (port and starboard) has a lift accessing the cabins and heads (bathrooms).  

And the galley area too is fully accessible with lower counters, cabinets, and a refrigerator all within easy reach.

After Deborah acquired the Impossible Dream, she was compelled to change the name to the Possible Dream, wanting people to see the possibilities of what can be achieved when it comes to accessibility on the water. Partnering with Shake-a-Leg-Miami, and Harry Horgan its founder, also a paraplegic, the two have been bringing the excitement of yachting to people with disabilities from its new port in Miami since 2013.

Last July, the crew, along with Deborah and Harry, brought the ship to several ports along the East coast to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and they had the honor of giving President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara a ride. Deborah and Harry’s most recent adventure was sailing the ship in the Conch Republic Cup, where they sailed from Key West to Cuba, finishing second and third in different divisions.

There are so many more adventures lying in wait for this amazing catamaran. With our founder Josh and crew scheduled to sail the Impossible Dream back to Cuba this Sunday, we can’t wait to hear more about the true awesomeness of this one-of-a-kind yacht.

Learn more about the Impossible Dream here

View more pics of the Impossible Dream here

Watch the video!

Dr. Mitchell Tepper visits The Impossible Dream @ Shake-A-Leg Miami