The Wish 4 Fish ship shines brightly at her mooring, the sun shimmering on her fresh paint.
The 18m catamaran is no ordinary boat – it is specially designed to provide more than one million New Zealanders living with illness or disability with access to the ocean.
After over a year of construction, Wish 4 Fish has launched and is ready for a summer on the water.
Floating the boat is a dream come true for Bryce Dineen, who envisioned Wish 4 Fish while lying on his back in Burwood’s spinal unit in 2007 after a shallow-water diving accident severely affected damaged his spinal cord.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” says Bryce. “I’m quite humbled by this.
“The intrinsic reward for me will be when you see these people on the water with a smile on your face.”
Wish 4 Fish is named after the Bryce charity established in 2011, so people like him can experience saltwater fishing and activities. They used chartered boats for fishing trips.
The $ 2.5 million ship is fully equipped for wheelchair access. It can accommodate up to 25 people with different levels of disability.
A wheelchair access lift to the fly bridge allows people to experience the ocean from the skipper’s perspective.
A full-loop gantry crane allows toilet access for all levels of wheelchair users, while hospital beds for overnight trips are a possibility, although most excursions are half-day long.
The fishing equipment was designed by project manager Ray Lowe for people with all levels of disabilities. There are electric rod holders to allow independent angling and a fully automated rod for people with reduced mobility.
TV screens on the fly bridge and main deck are connected to 30x zoom cameras to show dolphins playing in the bow wave and any other marine life they encounter.
Wish 4 Fish director Tony Pearce claims the wheelchair is the king or queen of the ship.
He says things like scurrying to the side of a boat to see marine life are something that able-bodied people take for granted, so having screens gives everyone a true experience of the sea.
“You have to go out on the water to witness what we call the magic moments,” Tony says.
“A day on the water can bring so much joy and give our beneficiaries unforgettable memories. “
Bryce’s dream is to wake up on Mayor Island and watch the sunrise, and while that is now possible, his main goal is to get others out on the water.
Wish 4 Fish has 200 recipients booked for travel in December, which are free. This means that the charity’s next mission is to raise funds so that they can continue to provide people with “magic moments”.
The campaign, called 1000 Magical Moments, aims to raise funds for 1000 beneficiary trips per year. It costs around $ 180 to take a beneficiary and their attendant on the water.
For more travel information or to donate visit: www.wish4fish.co.nz