PICYA’s Wheelchair Regatta

Three Hundred Disabled Veterans from the Veterans Home in Yountville and Palo Alto enjoyed a day on the Bay Saturday September 25, 2010. The 14th annual Wheelchair Regatta was held at Encinal Yacht Club. Twenty Nine Power Boats boats were assembled in the Encinal Basin and systematically loaded with both Wheel Chair Bound as well as ambulatory Vets. I had to at least try this event once.

Chuck Pascal & I left Coyote Point at 10:30 Friday Morning, as I wanted to get into Encinal before most of the boats arrived. Much to my surprise, the docks were jammed by the time we got there. We were instructed to tie on the outside of C dock, this space is usually reserved for the small Encinal YC dry storage boats to get out to the Estuary. The word on the dock was that there was an 1800 Skippers meeting followed by dinner.

We learned at the Skippers meeting that this was the 14th annual event. We were given instruction regarding length of the trip; not to provide food or drink (the Vets could not get to the head), and to ask permission before taking photos. The boat count was down this year from a total of 42 boats last year. Each skipper was introduced and given a flag for their boat. Many of the skippers had been coming for more than 10 years and one was recognized for 13 years participation. I noticed that the returning boats proudly flew their participation flags for each year that they attended. Quite impressive!

Yacht Clubs from all over the Bay & Delta were represented. I was impressed that three boats were from Oxbow Yacht Club. I asked if they were here as part of a Bay Cruise, and was quickly told that they all made the trip specifically for the event.

After a very nice buffet dinner, free to each skipper and one crew member, we stayed at the Club and listened to the stories of past days.

Saturday morning the Encinal basin was quite calm until 1000 when the buses started to arrive. All the passengers were herded through the bathrooms before being loaded onto boats by members of the Oakland & Alameda Fire Depts, and the Coast Guard. Encinal YC supplied line handlers and before we knew it we had 9 Vets and a seeing eye dog on the boat and we were underway.

We took our group up the Estuary and across the Bay to AT&T Park, up the City Front to Pier 39 and then across the Bay through Raccoon Straits and then back to the Dock. When we arrived back at the Club, there was quite a traffic jam with boats returning to the docks. We extended our cruise down by the Coast Guard Cutters tied up at Government Island and we were then instructed to tie up where we had spent the night on the outside of C Dock. Help was there to tie us up and offload our guests.

Martinez Yacht Club staffed the BBQ’s and every one of the Vets as well as all the boat crews were treated to a hamburger and hot dog lunch on the grass.

The Yacht Club offered overnight berthing on Saturday Night as well to all the boats, and an invitation to join their Oktoberfest Party.

I am not sure who got more out of the day, The Vets or the Boat Owners and Crew. I heard great stories and just had a GREAT time having these very special folks aboard. I will definitely be on the list this year and take Vita Bella back for this Wonderful Event to be held Saturday, September 24th. I hope you will join me, whether you bring your boat or volunteer on land. Please contact me at rossbowling@mac.com if you would like to participate this year.

-Ross Bowling

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About Coyote Point Yacht Club

Coyote Point Yacht Club is located at Coyote Point Park in San Mateo, south of the Bay Bridge and north of the San Mateo Bridge. Views of San Francisco and the San Mateo Bridge/Oakland provide a pretty setting for events in the club house and outdoor activities in our backyard. BBQ facilities, showers for men and women, and free ice are available.
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