Princess Royal names new Wheelyboat

L to right: Geoff Holt MBE, Patron Lymington SailAbility, Joff McGill, RYA SailAbility, Leon Ward, RYA SailAbility, Michael Caddy, Pebble Beach, HRH The Princess Royal, Aly Gunn, Chairman Lymington SailAbility, Thomas Morton, Vice Chairman Lymington Sailability. Photo by David Hill (

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited Pebble Beach restaurant in Barton on Sea on Friday where she named Lymington SailAbility’s new Wheelyboat, a wheelchair accessible motor boat which will give disabled people the chance to get out on the water.

HRH The Princess Royal was welcomed by Aly Gunn, Chairman of Lymington Sailability. She chatted to many of the members of Lymington SailAbility who have worked hard actively supporting and fundraising for the charity and others who have helped to make the new Wheelyboat a reality, including Lymington Harbourmaster Ryan Willegers, who has made a berth available on the river for the new boat.  During her visit she also met Michael Caddy, owner of Pebble Beach, who was instrumental in raising part of the funds via the support of his restaurant patrons.

Thomas Morton, a Trustee of Lymington SailAbility who played a key role in working with other SailAbility members to manage the project explained “I love to be out on the water and as a wheelchair user myself, the Wheelyboat design means I am not restricted on board.  I can drive the boat without a problem and help others to enjoy a trip out on the water.”  Wheelyboat is a proven design and this is the sixteenth of its kind to have been launched by its builders. The boat will be looked after by Lymington SailAbility member Jim Waller.

On the patio at Pebble Beach, overlooking a sunny English Channel, her Royal Highness poured champagne over the bow of the new boat and named her Susan Mary.  She was presented with a posy by Sarah Norris, House Captain and George May, Patrol Leader, both from Walhampton School.

Lymington SailAbility, founded in 1996, has introduced an enormous number of disabled people to boating over the past 22 years.  The charity has proved that sailing and powerboating can be both accessible and affordable regardless of circumstance and that it is a fun, exhilarating, liberating, empowering and relaxing way to escape the drudges of everyday life while offering life changing experiences. Lymington SailAbility is a completely self-funding charity which relies on the generosity of others.  The donations generously given allows the organisation to expand every year.  Every penny that comes in goes to getting disabled people out on the water.

Lymington SailAbility currently operates twice a week with the support of a dedicated team of volunteers and will be adding an additional day a week to provide powerboating opportunities.