KING 5 NBC SEATTLE, WA
Since moving to Florida it always seems like I’m swamped when it comes to participating in events that are aimed at helping mobility challenged sportsmen. My involvement includes the SW Florida Chapter of Heroes on the Water, Tighten the Drag Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, not to mention the Florida chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries, of which I’m the Chapter Chair.
Now for the really exciting news: ADA Boats, Inc. has been re-branded to ABLECAT LLC. We now offer fully accessible inshore fishing charters and can arrange travel packages (excluding air). The packages are being marketed with the help of Deborah Davis thru her website www.pushliving.com . I did this because, after spending a year trying to market my boats and being told repeatedly that “No one in a wheelchair likes to go on boats,” or “We only have a few clients and we lift them on the boat,” or my favorite yet, “We can take anything but an electric chair,” I decided that if no one else was willing to make the accommodation, I would. Lucky for me, I found ‘The Captain School.’ I would recommend this school to anyone. My Instructor was excellent. He taught me everything I needed to get a captain’s license in the state of Florida. They administer the test, then review and filed my application with the USCG. My license has been issued and with the help of my Fish Master/Guide, Blane Garrett, we started taking clients out in January. Finally, anyone who can get to Ft. Myers will have the opportunity to get out on the water for fishing, sightseeing or just enjoying the sunshine.
With the help of some new friends, the Florida Chapter of FHNB (mentioned above) was founded. Primary funding for the chapter comes from the ABLECAT Adventures Charters. Some fantastic people have joined the FLHNB Board of Directors and we are all working hard to make the chapter a success.
To keep the ship running, I work as a Plumbing Technology Instructor at Fort Myers Technical College. My spare time is filled now with advocacy activities for ADA Boats, the Florida Chapter of FHNB, the ADA Advisory Council to Southwest. Sometimes I even get to go fishing. Oh, and have been pushing Able Outdoors magazine to everyone I contact! Has anyone subscribed lately with a Florida address?
For me, building fully accessible boats isn’t enough if only a few get to experience the healing effects of time on the water. The reality is that the cost of boat ownership is out of the reach of many people with mobility challenges. Now I have an answer to the question: “Where can I find a wheelchair accessible fishing charter?” The answer is, ABLECAT Adventures, Fort Myers, Florida.
Someday there will be access for everyone. Until then, we’re just going to open the door to recreational boating for anyone who wants to go. Thank you for letting me raise awareness about water access in Florida.
Fair Seas and Tight Lines to All,
Capt. Mike Mayes
Florida Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries firstname.lastname@example.org
ABLECAT by ADA Boats, Inc. email@example.com