A recent initiative by the Woollahra Municipal Council, NSW, will make boating more widely accessible to disabled people. The Watsons Bay Ocean Baths in Sydney Harbour is now the home of the world’s first deep water Wheelchair Access Pontoon, a uniquely engineered pontoon designed specifically for wheelchair access into the water.
It enables a person in a wheelchair to move down a series of ramps onto a pontoon, which leads to internal ramps, which extend to below the water level. There is a below-water platform at one side of the pontoon ramp, where people are able to float off the submerged wheelchairs and straight into clean, deep, harbour water.
TLB Engineers designed the main pontoon using a modified Walcon System 2000 deck arrangement, with polyethylene floats attached to purpose-built frames, which create the central ramp structure. The whole structure is designed to survive the sometimes severe westerly wave conditions experienced at Watsons Bay.
The decking on the final ramp sections consists of a special non-slip material, which provides excellent grip for the wheelchair tyres.
The angle of the ramp is designed to minimise the effort of users and it incorporates both handrails and chair ‘fendering’ to ensure a smooth passage for the chair and occupant.
Further information: www.walconmarine.com.
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