Accessible Catalan – Part 3: Activities by sea

On Wednesday 19th June 2013; I began one of the craziest adventures of my life. The Catalan Tourist Board had invited a group of UK disability specialist travel agents to view their accessibility facilities. Enable Holidays kindly suggested I accompanied them to test the facilities and share the experience through my Disability Horizons work.

In only 3 nights and 4 days so much happened that I’ve written 3 articles; one on Barcelona city plus the general facilities, and 2 on the adapted activities. Enjoy!

Part 3 – activities by sea

As mentioned in my last post, day 3 was our water based day. Having swam lots as a child and SCUBA dived last year, I was excited. The difference here, however, was going on a boat first…

On arriving at the boat I could see some difficulties straight away. The entrance width wouldn’t fit my 130kg wheelchair, but the benches wouldn’t support my seating needs on board. So we called an amphibian chair for me to sit on comfortably. Being lifted by Diego felt more stressful this time with the distance, the step and rocking motion on the boat. He did well though.

The next test was to get the wetsuit on, carry me to the lift and get me in the water. A good 30 minutes later and I was in, but a little flustered I must say. Once in the water the weightless made things easier, I had a swim and saw some fishes. The view of the blue bobbing water, high cliffs and marine life was worth every hard fought struggle.

With Kasia and Lynne on board
With Kasia and Lynne on board

Getting back on board, on the amphibian chair, dry and back in my chair was tricky. However I know mine and Enables feedback will be taken on board by Silvia and the team to make necessary improvements.

Sometimes being a trailblazer has its difficult moments too. As people often say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I thoroughly enjoyed this activity nonetheless.

So finally onto sailing. Feeling a bit tired and worn out, I was a bit concerned. Upon meeting Xavi at Club Nàutic L’Escala (@nauticescala on Twitter), I knew all was ok. The hoist put me comfortably in the tiny sailing boat, Kasia sat next to me and and steered the rudder as we headed off. The steering was just too hard for me, but many others disabled people could do it I’m sure.

Hoisting and Sailing
Hoisting and Sailing

This was by far my favourite activity, along with the hot air balloon. Both were far more adventurous than I get in normal life, but had a tranquillity with them also. I was made to feel so comfortable and secure in this tiny boat.

I would recommend the Catalan to any disabled people. If you want to play it safe with city tours and beaches, you’ll still have a great time. However if you want to push your limits; any one of these activities (never mind all in 4 days) will do. The people can’t know your every need, but will help in every way they can. The facilities are very well thought through, and mostly perfect. Any elements needing improvement I have no doubt that they will be.

It was also great to see Enable Holidays and the other travel agencies in action. They go to great lengths to audit facilities and give you the best holiday possible.

I’m off to stare at some paint and recover some energy before my next expedition, to Poland. Please do get in touch with any questions on Barcelona, the Catalan and disability travel.

Thanks again to Silvia, Diego, Raquel and the Catalan Tourist Board for making this possible.

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