The Wetwheels Jersey blog
Wednesday December 6, 2017
Wetwheels Jersey, the charity that gives disabled and disadvantaged Islanders the opportunity to experience Jersey’s maritime playground, has enjoyed its most successful year.
The charity operates a specially designed 9 metre fast catamaran, which can accommodate both able bodied and disabled passengers including those in wheelchairs. The vessel was commissioned in 2013 and has grown the number of passengers carried each year. In 2017 Wetwheels Jersey operated over 150 trips with a record 1,031 people carried, including 54 wheelchair users, and 204 disabled passengers not in wheelchairs. Just under half of the passengers were younger than 25 years old and 59 were over 65.
During the year Wetwheels Jersey developed its education programme aimed at giving Island youngsters, who would not normally have the chance, an opportunity to get out on the water and see the Island from a fresh perspective. While on board they can learn about marine biology, geography and history.
Trips this year have varied from a hop around the bay to inter-island journeys and adventures to the offshore reefs of the Minquiers and Les Ecrehous, all of them free of charge.
Although the Jersey boat is locally owned by the Wetwheels Charitable Trust, it operates under the umbrella of the Wetwheels Foundation, set up disabled sailor Geoff Holt MBE, the founder of the Wetwheels brand. Wetwheels Jersey is part of a growing family of boats along the south coast of the UK to bear the Wetwheels name, including Dover and Hamble, with others coming on stream across the country.
The boat is manned by fully trained skippers and crew, who give their time voluntarily and operating costs are met through fundraising and donations.
Chief Operating Officer Dina Cook said, “We could not offer the Wetwheels Jersey experience without the support of our volunteer skippers and crew, our clients who constantly help us improve the service, and those who donate funds or support us with charitable grants. This year alone we have used 340 engine hours and over 6,750 litres of fuel. We pay for all of our boat maintenance, crew kit, training and fuel but we don’t charge for our trips. It is important that we offer everyone, who would not otherwise get the opportunity, a chance to go out on the water an experience this beautiful island from the sea. We are looking forward to an even more successful 2018 when our season starts in spring.”
Wetwheels Jersey has performed a number of other community roles since launching, including supporting the Lord Nelson to bring disabled passengers ashore, acting as guard boat for the Jersey Powerboat racing and for the Round Island Challenge charity event. In 2018 Wetwheels Jersey has been invited with her sister vessels to stand guard of honour for the University Boat Race in London.
Wetwheels Jersey is operated by Wetwheels Jersey Limited, which is wholly owned by the Charitable Trust but has its own Board of Directors. In September, the company strengthened its management team by appointing Brian Watt as Chairman. Mr Watt is a Jersey resident with a successful global career in the management consulting industry. The other directors are Stephen Chatfield, Dina Cook, James Mulholland, Matthew Robins and Allan Watts.