In June of 2016 I attended a basic sailing camp for disabled veterans in San Diego, CA. It was put on by the Warrior Sailing Program with generous support from the yacht club it was held at, San Diego Yacht Club, and another local club, Southwestern Yacht Club. Everyone with the warrior sailing program(coaches and staff) and both yacht clubs were extremely friendly and inviting. They went out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable and a part of the group. Just an amazing group of people.
We started with classroom instruction. We learned a lot thanks to Ben's drawings and the input from the rest of the coaches. We also hit the water in j-22 sailboats provided by SDYC. My crew was all Navy with Guy Mossman as our coach. We kicked butt and led most of the races. However, the final race was a poker run. While we did finish first, we did not have the winning hand. But we had a great time nonetheless.
This was my introduction to sailing. I had been on a few small boats prior to this, but mainly ski boats on a lake. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. This was a transformative camp for me. My love for the ocean, through surfing and going to the beach growing up, was magnified by the freedom I felt while in command. I found a mode of transportation that did not leave me with debilitating pain. It was wonderful.
But it was also a lot of work managing jib or main sail. It intensified my pain more than if I had just worked the tiller. It was still very much worth it, but if I work the lines instead of just drive I'm left in pain which means I can only do this activity sparingly. Unfortunately that sort of makes joining someone's crew difficult. But I've had a few opportunities that were set up with Warrior Sailing Program help and the one I could make it to was awesome. (Thanks again Brian and the crew of Ruckus, a 10m Flying Tiger out of Dana Point, for taking me along. It was an excellent time!)
I strongly encourage other veterans to give this program a shot and everyone else to consider donating to this wonderful organization. You won't regret it!