Greetings FishTalkers, I hope your summer of Chesapeake Bay fishing has been going well! Only a few of you will have reason to take advantage of the topic of this month’s column. That fact alone would normally make it something of a poor topic choice for Notes from the Cockpit, since I only get this one page a month to try to communicate with the angling community about things aside from our main mission — helping people catch more, bigger fish. By the time your eyes reach the bottom of this page, however, I have no doubt that everyone would agree that Fish Redeemer deserves every inch of this space.
In a nutshell: the Redeemer is a 46-foot Composite Yachts Chesapeake Bay deadrise, custom designed and built for wheelchair accessibility. The boat is kept at Taylor’s Cove in Ridge, MD, where the paths are graded and maintained for easy mobility. Boarding is made seamless via a ramp attached to a floating dock and a wide center transom door in the back of the boat. The cockpit is open, uncluttered, and ringed by grab rails set at the correct height for use from a wheelchair. Appropriately placed grab rails also lead into the cabin, and a chair lift provides wheelchair access to the lower cabin and head compartment. And to minimize rocking and rolling, the Redeemer carries a Sea Keeper gyroscopic stabilization system. It is, to our knowledge, the only working charter boat with full 100-percent wheelchair accessibility and ease of use, designed and built specifically to take wheelchair-bound and mobility-challenged anglers and their families out onto the Chesapeake Bay for a day of fishing.
You might guess that there aren’t enough anglers out there who need this boat (and would be willing to pony up big bucks to go fishing), to keep a charter business profitable. And you might be right about that. But it’s irrelevant. First because it doesn’t cost big bucks to book this boat compared to charters of a similar size (not to mention the veteran’s discount), and second because Fish Redeemer is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Fish Redeemer team didn’t come up with the idea of a wheelchair-accessible charter boat to make money, they did it to help people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to go fishing on a boat find the ability to break through this barrier. They had always loved fishing these waters. When they found that some people were unable to enjoy the experience due to mobility issues and that no one around was offering this service, the team and its board of volunteers created Fish Redeemer.
For the many of you who aren’t directly affected by mobility issues and don’t need a boat like the Redeemer, but feel its mission is worthy, you can choose to donate to Fish Redeemer if you’d like (yes, it is tax-deductible). Just visit the Fish Redeemer website and click on the “donate” button. But that’s not why we chose to dedicate this space on the pages of FishTalk to the organization. No, this article is produced in the hope that there’s at least one of you — but maybe many more — reading FishTalk while sitting in a wheelchair, right now. We want you to know that this opportunity is out there. And if someone reading this can get around just fine but knows a fish-loving friend who hasn’t been able to get out onto the Bay up until now, we hope you’ll share this copy of FishTalk with them and make sure they get the word. There is such a thing as a charter boat built, designed, and run specifically for wheelchair accessibility. Its name is the Redeemer.