The Impossible Dream, a universally accessible catamaran, is dedicated to engaging the global community to raise awareness to barrier-free design and to inspire people with disabilities, wounded soldiers, disadvantaged youth, and their families to improve their independence and quality of life.
The Impossible Dream is the world’s only catamaran built from the ground up to be fully universally accessible.
Created by Mike Browne, a paraplegic who dreamed of a vessel that could sail the world’s oceans and which could be fully operational by a person in a wheelchair. The Impossible Dream was designed by Nick Baily and built by Multi-Marine in 2002 and she remains at the forefront of barrier-free sailing design.
Mike Browne realized his dream with the construction of Impossible Dream and set sail on voyages that traversed the Atlantic on multiple occasions and the waters of the Mediterranean.
While under Mike Browne’s ownership, Geoff Holtz utilized Impossible Dream to be the first quadriplegic to sail across the Atlantic with only his personal care assistant. His record setting sail took place in 2010, breaking down the barriers and inspiring others with disabilities.
After 10 years of sailing, Mike was looking for an organization to take on the responsibility of continuing the mission of the Impossible Dream.
Her New Mission
Deborah Mellen, an accomplished businesswoman, paraplegic, and sailing volunteer at Shake-A-Leg Miami saw a match. Yearning to share her love for sailing with others with disabilities, she funded the acquisition of Impossible Dream and founded the non-profit together with Harry Horgan the founder of Shake a Leg, Miami. Under Deborah’s leadership, the Impossible Dream opened a new chapter in her historic life, travelling the world to provide thousands of people with disabilities the opportunity to sail on the Dream.
The world’s only purposely built barrier-free catamaran
Impossible Dream is an all-carbon-fibre, fast cruising yacht was designed by Nic Bailey to be an easily handled, fast, comfortable and responsive yacht for wheelchair users to sail. It was an underlying requirement that all aspects of sailing, sail handling, docking, anchoring and maintenance should be capable of being carried out solo.
A Closer Look
The primary concept of the boat is defined by the ‘racetrack’ which runs around the perimeter of the bridge deck house. It rises gently towards the bow, and is protected by a hollow bulwark that also provides stowage for fenders. At the aft end, the bulwark widens out to provide an outside helm position from which all sail trimming, engine controls and navigation functions can be carried out. The sail trimming from these positions applies to the mainsail and twin headsails, all of which can be tweaked by using hydraulic rams. Sheets are lead through the coachroof to bridge deck level where they go to hydraulic self-tailing winches. These are coupled with hydraulic headsail furling gear and hydraulic in-boom furling for the mainsail; the hydraulics systems do add considerable weight to the boat, but this is the hardware that enables the boat to carry a racing size rig area, and more importantly enable a sailor using a wheelchair to trim the sails, and thus really drive the boat, on their own.
A lot of the time, the boat is handled from inside the bridge deck house. There is a forward steering position, in front of the mast and behind a curved, laminated, toughened, solar reflecting glass, heated windscreen. The wheelchair locks onto a small chassis mounted on traveller track, which enables it to traverse the width of the cockpit giving the helmsman good access to all instruments as well as both primary winches, but preventing completely uncontrolled movement of the chair in bad weather.
The bridgedeck area and the outside ‘raceway’ are effectively a single unobstructed level with no steps or door thresholds. An internal lift in each hull enables full wheelchair access to the accommodation and heads. Two cabins are primarily designed for wheelchair access only and two cabins have full standing headroom, but are also accessible by wheelchair.
Impossible Dream has pivoting centerboards. Although these boards and the associated casings and hydraulics are perhaps not as efficient as daggerboards, it was concluded that to automate a sliding daggerboard reliably would pose far more difficult technical problems; whereas a pivoting mechanism gives the added benefit of a safety release in the event of striking an underwater object.
The wheelchair lift mechanisms utilize standard track and traveller car components driven by a small hydraulic reel winch, and most of the custom components have also been used in the two external lifts that give access to the dockside. Each of the external lift platforms lies behind a hinged hull panels that can rotate into a horizontal position once the five way locking dogs have been manually released from the dockside. Because docking conditions can vary, the boat is also equipped with a two-part passerelle that stows flush with the aft deck and can be maneuvered into position by use of travelling hoists fitted into the undersides of the aft davits. Part of the passerelle also doubles as a bathing platform.
The systems are run by a generator and battery banks with backup electrical supplied by an alternator on the starboard engine.
The sleeping quarters and and heads are located below the bridge deck area and are identical on port and starboard hulls. Below deck is accessible by hydraulic lifts that accommodate standard wheelchairs.
The Dream Team
Meet the incredible team who make sailing the Dream a reality
Founder and CEO
Since our start we have had the pleasure of having dozens of beautiful people of all abilities come aboard and crew on the Impossible Dream.
Interested in Joining our crew?
Click ‘Learn more’ to find out how you can become part of our amazing team.
Explore the many memories we have made over the years on the Impossible Dream
Contact the Impossible Dream
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