Accessibility and Enjoyment for All – Coastal Craft Wheelchair Accessible Yacht

Coastal Craft Hansen

June 17, 2016

Coastal Craft recently unveiled a 65-foot wheelchair accessible yacht that was built to order for an American couple. The husband and wife envisioned a boat that would not only cater to the current needs of the wife, who uses a wheelchair, but also ensure that they would still be able to enjoy the water 10 years down the road.  

The Coastal Craft team working with Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architect Ltd., spent months on design and engineering for the vessel, working in close collaboration with the client to fine-tune goals and determine what could and could not be realistically accomplished.  The entire design and build process took approximately 16 months to complete. 

The unique vessel, complete with interior and exterior wheelchair platform decks and lifts, an elevator and much more, is powered by a pair of Volvo Penta 13-liter 900 hp engines with IPS3 drives, Volvo Penta joystick controls at the lower and upper helm stations, plus two joystick wing docking stations in the aft cockpit.

Photo: Canadian icon and disabilities advocate Rick Hansen was on the Coast last weekend to take a tour of Coastal Craft’s new 65-foot, wheelchair-accessible, Concord yacht. Hansen was very impressed by the yacht’s design and accessibility.
Credit:  Jacob Roberts Photo

“Our clients had a realization that if they could not have something special like this, then their boating days would soon come to an end,” said Jeff Rhodes, CEO of Coastal Craft.  “Accessibility is about compromise.  If you’re constructing an accessible public building for example, there are guidelines to follow.  In this case, the design and development was centered solely on the individual.  Our core focus was on creating a product that makes it easy for the client to move around while maintaining dignity and even more importantly, thoroughly enjoy the boating experience.” 

Fred Lachlan, Volvo Penta’s regional sales manager, invited Rick Hansen, the Canadian icon and advocate for people with disabilities, for a tour of the vessel.  Rick Hansen is a household name to Canadians and is most recognized for the Man in Motion World Tour. Beginning in 1985, Hansen and his team set forth on a 26-month adventure – wheeling more than 40,000 km across 34 countries to raise awareness about the potential of people with disabilities, creating accessible and inclusive communities, and finding cures.  

Hansen met with the Coastal Craft team for a tour and ride aboard the yacht in March.  He had an opportunity to skipper and maneuver the boat. He was impressed with the ease and simplicity of the joystick controller.  

The Volvo Penta IPS has been key enabler of improving the boating experience for everyone – no matter their circumstance or expertise, according to Lachlan.

“Not only does the Volvo Penta IPS system create more room for mobility, it allows individuals to control the direction and docking of a boat with just one hand.  The built-in autopilot also makes it possible for them to sit and talk with friends while the boat is essentially driving itself.”

Another noticeable benefit of the Volvo Penta IPS system is the limited noise level.

“It’s such a quiet system,” said Lachlan.  “Anywhere we sat during the ride with Rick, we could talk to each other about the elegance and efficiencies of yacht at normal levels.  We didn’t have to yell across to one another.” 

The insight garnered from Hansen during the excursion is invaluable to the Coastal Craft team, and the industry at large.

“Going into this project, we didn’t really have any background or experience in custom builds to accommodate those with disabilities; everything was based on discussions with the client and their specific needs.  Rick has a wealth of knowledge in accessibility and has dedicated his life to the cause so we took this opportunity to ask a lot of questions and get his feedback,” said Rhodes.  “Everyone should have a chance to enjoy the boating experience and with more focus, awareness and education on what it takes to make that possible, the industry could be doing more of this.  Together we can extend the opportunity to those that may never have thought it possible.”

“Rick loved the boat and had nothing but positive things to say about the experience.  It was incredible to be part of something like this and even more amazing to know that our innovative technologies are breaking down the barriers of entry and making boating enjoyable for everyone,” said Lachlan.

Ron Huibers, president of Volvo Penta of the Americas, said: “At Volvo Penta we are champions for Easy Boating.  We’re deeply committed to making it easier for more people to enjoy the unique boating lifestyle.  It’s a driving force behind everything we do.  So it was a joy to all of us at Volvo Penta to contribute to the creation of this elegant yacht designed specifically for disabled owners.  Kudos to Jeff Rhodes and the superb team at Coastal Craft for making this happen.”

Rick Hansen is a lifelong boater and passionate fisherman – he has his own boat, which he easily helms himself.


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