Authored by Sarah Bell
Sensing Nature is taking a broad approach to what constitutes ‘nature’, encouraging people to share their definitions of the natural environment and what this means to them as individuals.
A few people have been in touch explaining that although they do not spend much time in ‘typical’ natural environments such as parks, woodlands or gardens, they do love to be near, in or out on the water of some kind, be it the sea, rivers or lakes.
For some, this takes the form of swimming or paddling, kayaking, canoeing or even water-skiing. Others have talked about fishing, rowing and sailing. When describing the sensation of sailing, for example, one person commented:
“The thing is that quite a lot of the skill in sailing isn’t necessarily to do with what you can see. Quite a lot of it’s what you can hear, and what you can feel, and so on. So it’s an absolutely amazing thing, really. Really empowering, and it really does get you out there and, you know, in the water, the wind, the weather and the skies.”
Looking into opportunities for these types of activities, I came across a great organisation in Cornwall, called ‘Blind at Sea’ (or ‘BATS’), which was founded in 1990 by a group of local sight impaired people and registered as a charity in 1992. Since then, the club continues to sail on alternate Saturdays and some Wednesdays, and includes a whole range of activities, such as day cruises, hands-on sailing, racing, gig-rowing and fishing.
The Club welcomes all new members and volunteers, offering full training for people who have never participated in these types of activities before. With the support of volunteer drivers, they also help to organise transport for sight-impaired members.
More information can be found online via the Blind at Sea website, Facebook page or by contacting Fran on 01872 552015, email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you enjoy being out on the water and would like to chat more about your experiences as part of the Sensing Nature project, do get in touch with me, either via the Contact page or by email: Sarah.Bell@exeter.ac.uk.
Alternatively, please feel free to leave a message with colleagues by calling the European Centre for Environment and Human Health on 01872 258131. If you do call, please leave a name and number and I will get back to you as soon as possible.