While compiling the highlights of the 2011 Blind Fishing Boat season I took some time to re-read previous annual reports. I was amazed, once again, just how much further the yard sticks have moved. Sure, the year included lots of great moments on the water, but even more importantly, there were the people I met along the way.
A network of vision impaired and blind fishers is stretching out ever further across Canada, the US and around the world. The number of “Blind Fishing Buddies” also continues to grow, as does support from sponsors, all of whom play an instrumental role in opening up the great outdoors to the increasing number of people living with vision loss.
Working in partnership for a number of years now with Canada’s provider of rehabilitation services to those living with vision loss, the CNIB, has led to my being appointed to the board of directors for the CNIB’s Lake Joseph Centre. This 98 room facility was specifically designed to provide clients with outdoor experiences, and recently underwent a $7 million renovation. A closer affiliation between the Centre and the Blind Fishing Boat has already resulted in significant programming changes that will see the Centre offer more programming designed to challenge visitors to expand their horizons, including more opportunities to take advantage of the great fishing on the lake, beyond what I provide during the week I volunteer their each year.
Researching and trialing new-age technology to explore the natural environment, such as the new MaxPAC audio compass for the blind, can be both exciting and frustrating. Technologies to assist with tasks such as obstacle detection, monitoring depth below the boat, and navigation via talking compass and GPS, are continuing to evolve. Not as quickly as they should, but progress never-the-less.
By means of a talking computer, the internet and email, reaching out and being reached has become so much more efficient. I’ll admit though, as a person who is blind, the temptation to integrate my mind’s processes with the power and logic of a computer is seductive. However, no computer can replicate the benefits that come with directly accessing the pure organic reality of experiencing nature with all ones senses. Kindling the desire of people with vision impairments or blindness to explore their outdoor environments through fishing is a large part of what the Blind Fishing Boat is about.
No doubt, we all romanticize about being the “rough & ready” outdoors person capable of catching fish, starting fires and building canoes all with our bare hands. The truth is though, each and every one of us experiences limitations of one sort or another. Supporting each other to get out on the water and catch fish is more the reality we can all share. It can be as simple as offering up a seat in a boat to a boatless friend, carrying an old-timer’s tackle bag, or dunking worms with a niece or nephew. Another important piece of the Blind Fishing Boat’s mandate will have been accomplished when going fishing with a person who is vision impaired or blind becomes just as common place.
I look forward to another year of exploring, trialing and sharing. Connecting with new people, strengthening friendships, undertaking new adventures and giving back will continue to serve as the corner stones of the Blind Fishing Boat.
Please take a few moments to take in the many exciting adventures from this past year as posted on www.BlindFishingBoat.Com. Take note of the names of the great corporate and non-profit sponsors that play an active role in making it all possible.
Anchors up, ,
Founder and Captain
Blind Fishing Boat .Com