Trustees, volunteers and sailors from a charity that helps make sailing accessible have received a new safety boat. 

Members of Chesil Sailability gathered at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy on Portland along with trustees of the Dorset health Trust for a naming ceremony of their new 5.8 metre Ribcraft RIB. 

The purchase of the new boat was made possible by a significant grant from the Dorset Health Trust charity.

The naming ceremony took place on the pontoon where the new boat was moored where it was named Juniper.

This was at the request of the Dorset Health Trust in recognition of the endless support given to its late chairman John Greener by his wife Juniper. 

MR Greener led the trust in creating the Joseph Weld Hospice (now known as Weldmar Hospicecare). 

Dorset Echo: Chesil Sailability's new boat Juniper on the waterChesil Sailability's new boat Juniper on the water (Image: Chesil Sailability)

David Griffith, chair of Chesil Sailability, said “We are very grateful to the trustees of the Dorset Health Trust charity for their generous grant which has made it possible for us to purchase a new safety boat.

"Our previous main safety boat was taken out of service after many years just before the COVID pandemic as it was beyond repair.

"We have been fortunate to be able to borrow a safety boat from the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy each week over the last couple of years, but having a new boat which has been built specifically to meet our needs and with which our volunteer safety crew can become familiar and confident in, is the best way to ensure the safety of our sailors and volunteers”.

Chesil Sailability operates from the Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy, and is an RYA affiliated sailing group.

It makes sailing accessible to people with physical disabilities, long-term health conditions, learning difficulties and mental ill-health.

The charity has around 50 volunteers, who skipper boats, kit up sailors, hoist sailors into boats, maintain the boats, provide first aid, provide instruction and drive the safety boats.

Each year it  gives around 140 sailors and carers sailing experience on the waters of Portland Harbour in around 20-25 sessions.

The charity has use of 4 Hawk and 5 Hansa sailing boats, and has 2 safety boats.

The charity also soon hopes to announce the launch of a new boat that will allow people with disabilities to enjoy powerboating and also take formal RYA powerboat qualifications.

Mrs Lavnia Barbour, vice chairman of the Dorset health trust said: "the Dorset health Trust is delighted to have been able to support the wonderful work undertaken by all the dedicated volunteers of Chesil Sailability.

"Their work to provide the ability for sailors with disabilities to take to the water is to be commended and this new safety boat will ensure they are able to continue and expand their amazing work."