sailibility program of st maarten yacht club

Sint Maarten Yacht Club Celebrates Successful Sailability Program

1 year ago, in March 2023, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club launched its groundbreaking Sailability program, an initiative aimed at making sailing inclusive and accessible for individuals of all abilities. The Special Sail Boat was ordered and the program was set up, classes started in August 2023. 


In collaboration with the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation, the Sint Maarten Yacht Club welcomed four selected clients to the Sailability classes. These individuals had the opportunity to sail aboard a specially designed boat, made to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities, allowing them to experience the exhilaration of sailing on open water. 


Over the past seven months, participants have eagerly immersed themselves in sailing classes held every Tuesday and Friday at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. Led by experienced instructors and volunteers, these sessions have provided participants with basic sailing skills and confidence on the water. 


Reflecting on the journey since the start of the Sailability Program, Maria Meekhof, the SMYC Sailability volunteer who has been involved in the program since the beginning shared: “In the beginning we were very nervous whether the students would like it. During the first classes we set goals. Looking back it is incredible to see how much we have achieved with each other. From mastering hoisting and steering, to operating the mainsail and working well together, and a lot more” she said. “The true measure of our success, however, is witnessed in the joy and relaxation of our students; their laughter and ease in the boat are unmistakable signs of their enjoyment and comfort. 


The program’s success was made possible through the support of R4CR, funded by the Government of the Netherlands through the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB). This funding has been crucial for purchasing the specialized sailing boat and ensuring the program’s operations for its first year. 


I hope we can continue this amazing program. Building a real connection with the students has been wonderful. They’ve gone from being shy to sharing stories, being loud, and laughing a lot.” Elja van der Horst said. “We’ve just adjusted the goals to keep challenging them and encouraging their learning, there is still so much for them to learn and enjoy! 


The support from R4CR and the World Bank came to an end, as the funding was granted for 1 year. Although, the Sailability program looks towards a positive. The Sint Maarten Yacht Club is dedicated to grow this valuable initiative. The White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation confirmed their interest to continue classes, which results in another sustainable SMYC project. 


For more information about the Sailability program or to inquire about support opportunities, please contact or visit 





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