Sarah Hyatt / Brighton Independent
Gosport – Memories were made out on the bay last week in Gosport.
For a ninth year, the Presqu’ile Yacht Club (PYC), with Community Living Campbellford/Brighton, invited people with intellectual disabilities to set sail on the bay, for the club’s annual sail day event, on Thursday, Aug. 18. “To see the joy on their faces while we’re out on the water- it’s so worth it,” said sail day organizer, Fred Wardle. Franklin Carwardine, one of this year’s 30 Community Living sail participants for the day, couldn’t wait to get on a boat Thursday. He loves boats, he says, and was smiling ear-to-ear as he made his way to board the vessel. He’d prefer to drive the boat; he chuckled, but a tour on the bay on a sunny afternoon was a pretty good second.
The event continues to grow in popularity, Wardle noted, and each year, it seems to get bigger and bigger. With 30 guests this year, Wardle was scrambling for vessels and captains, he joked. Numbers are up from last year. Wardle was preparing captains initially to possibly make two trips for the sail day. The whole idea behind the day is to promote inclusion within the community and area and also active living, Wardle explained. This was always George Wilkinson’s hope and goal, Wardle continued. Wilkinson started the sail day initiative and is a former member of the PYC. He also sat on the board for Community Living for years. “Although retired, he still comes out for this day every year,” said Wardle. After taking over for Wilkinson, the organizer says he too has become very passionate about the cause and event. “It’s just an all-around fun day for everyone,” said Wardle. “I think everyone gains a little something from it. I hope they do anyways. I know the club members certainly do- I do.” Commodore for the club, Tom Willison, likes to squeeze in a few pretend races here and there and provoke a few smiles out on the bay. The club followed the hour-long sail up Thursday with a hot dog lunch on the clubhouse deck.
Executive director for Community Living, Nancy Brown, says it’s not every day just anyone gets this sort of experience. For her, it was a unique experience, she noted. For participants to have this opportunity to be involved with club members this way and to have them share their passion for sailing, it’s pretty special, she said. At the same time, participants are able to meet other people and socialize in a different capacity. “It’s just amazing,” said Brown. “We’re very grateful for this friendship and the opportunity.”