MAKING A DIFFERENCE : ACCESS TO SAILING : A Journey That Takes Riders From Disability to Capability


Duncan Milne, who lost the use of his legs after a motorcycle accident in 1977, was determined to keep sailing in his life. The former physical-education teacher did so by learning how to rig a boat and its sails so it could be operated by hand from the stern. He spent years sailing off the coasts of California and Mexico with other disabled sailors.

In 1987, while watching a paraplegic teen-ager work the tiller on a boat, Milne says, he “realized the therapeutic value of sailing beyond what I intuitively knew and started to create a formal approach to it.” Three years later, he launched the Long Beach-based Access to Sailing with a donated boat. The program offers day sails to patients from rehabilitation hospitals and sailing classes for disabled people through the Long Beach Parks and Recreation Department. In addition to on-the-water activities, Access provides technical assistance for groups that want to set up similar programs or adapt waterfront spaces for access to disabled people.

Fear and hopelessness can keep people who have suffered disabling injuries or illnesses from realizing their potential. Access to Sailing awakens them to the rewards of risk-taking, teamwork and individual accomplishment despite their physical limitations. Last year, more than 550 people sailed with the group.



Call (714) 722-5371.