The Martin 16
Sam Sullivan sent out a design brief in 1995 to create a boat that would allow everyone to sail together, without compromises or handicaps. The resulting Martin 16, designed by Vancouver's own Don Martin, is both fast and stable, meeting the needs of experienced and first-time sailors, irrespective of physical disabilities.
The Canadian designed and built Martin 16 is a boat that allows children and adults with physical disabilities the possibility of leaving their wheelchair or other mobility device and going sailing! Even individuals with weak arms or no use of their arms can sail independently using power assist technology.
As it names suggests, the Martin 16 is 16 feet long – the size of many small sailboats. But unlike other boats, the Martin 16 has been specially designed to meet the needs of sailors with disabilities.
First and foremost the boat is very safe. A 300 lb. lead bulb is attached to the keel of the boat which makes it impossible to capsize (tip over). The inner hull of the boat is filled with foam flotation that makes the boat unsinkable, even if it is totally flooded.
The sailor sits in the boat in a multi-adjustable seat that can accommodate any special postural needs. The seat is situated on the center line at the bottom of the cockpit. This is the most stable position in the boat and means that the sailor does not have to move from one side of the boat to the other as one must do on standard sailboats. If necessary quick-release straps can be used to stabilize the sailor’s trunk when the boat heels (leans to the side) on windy days.
Once comfortably seated, the joystick tiller (to control the steering) and lines (to control the sails) are directly at hand making it possible to sail the boat independently without needing to change position. A second seat for an instructor or companion is located behind the sailor’s seat.
Optional power-assist equipment can be added to the boat to allow individuals with weak arms to sail the boat using a joystick similar to those found on power wheelchairs. And for those who cannot move their arms at all the sip ’n puff system allows them to sail the boat using their breath! Even people on respirators can sail the Martin 16 independently!
The Martin 16 is currently used in adapted sailing programs around the world for recreational sailing, learn-to-sail programs and racing.
For more information see martin16.com