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Rowing Opportunities for People with Visual Impairments (VI)

Adult VI Friendly Rowing

Sundays, 11AM to 1PM

Last season, All-Aboard launched a successful project, funded by the Ulverscroft Project, which supported adults with Visual Impairments to learn fixed seat rowing in a fun and friendly environment. This project will continue to run throughout the 2023 season from March to October.

Participants will learn to row in a wooden Cornish ‘Gig’ or a wooden ‘Skiff’. Both boats are designed for sea rowing so are very stable. Session run every Sunday from 11AM to 1PM in Bristol Harbour.

This is a voluntary run session, which will be lead by an instructor. In the Gig there will be an instructor, 3 participants and 3 sighted volunteers. In the Skiff there will a cox who steers the boat, 2 participants and 2 sighted volunteers.

For more information please visit our Adult VI Friendly Rowing Sessions webpage or to book please email [email protected].

Picture of 3 participants and 3 volunteers rowing the Gig called Bristol Blue

Picture of 3 participants and 3 volunteers rowing the Gig called Bristol Blue


Youth VI Friendly Rowing After-School Club

Fridays (Term-time), 5PM to 7PM

In April All-Aboard will be starting a brand new Rowing After-School Club, which has been funded by Love Rowing. These sessions are designed for young people aged 11 to 18 years old with a Visual Impairment to learn how to Row in a fun, safe and supportive environment.

Participants will learn in ‘Trinity’ boats which are light weight boats, perfect for young people to learn in. There will be a cox or instructor, 2 participants and 2 sighted volunteers in each boat to begin with. As participants skill level increases the participant:volunteer ratio can increase, so that there is eventually only one sighted volunteer in the boat with them.


No previous experience if required. For more information or to book, please visit our Youth Visual Impairment Friendly Rowing After-School Club webpage.

Picture of 4 young people rowing the Trinity boat

Picture of 4 young people rowing the Trinity boat


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

How do I get in the boat?

The boat will be moored against the harbour wall, which is a fixed pontoon area. The benefit of using this area is hat participants can take their time getting in and out of the boat and the pontoon does not wobble making it easier to get in and out of the boat.

The floor of the rowing boat will be lower than the pontoon. This means that instead on stepping down into the boat, many participants find it easier to get down onto their knees, place on hand on the boat and one on the pontoon, then step into the boat from the side (one leg at a time). Others prefer to sit on the floor place both legs into the boat, so they can feel the floor of the rowing boat under their feet, then slide over into their rowing seat.

There will be plenty of volunteers on stand-by ready to give you support if needed. They will work with you to find the easiest method for you.

What will I row?

The session will take place on Bristol Floating Harbour.

At the beginning of the session, volunteers will introduce the oar and explain the correct rowing stroke to beginners. The first 15 minutes of each session will be a chance for participants to warm up by practicing the rowing stroke with the boat tied by and will get feedback from volunteer on how to perfect their stroke.

Rowers will then row the boat up Bristol Harbour from Underfall Yard towards Temple Meads. Some groups may go as far as Netham Lock. The harbour flows through the centre of Bristol. If you would like volunteers to give a detailed description of the surrounding, do not hesitate to ask – they would be more than happy to do this.

What should I wear?

We advise to avoid lose-fitting or open-toe shoes  and wear comfortable shoes that can get wet, for example old trainers. Avoid wearing cotton as it gets cold and heavy when wet. Wearing fast drying materials is advised. In cold weather, most rowers wear multiple thin layers as it is easy to take off layers as you warm throughout the row. In warm weather, do not forget to bring a hat, sun-cream and a water-bottle. If you have light sensitivity, wearing polarised sun glasses can help with the glare on the water.

All-Aboard will give you a Buoyancy Aid to wear, as all participants must wear this while near and on the water.

What are the facilities at All-Aboard?

There is a car par beside our Centre which has 4 disabled parking bays. There is free parking for the public for up to 4 hours, if you plan to attend the centre for longer let us know. There are ramps to access our centre and a lift to access the upstairs classroom and kitchen. There is a disabled shower room and disabled toilet downstairs which has a Room Mate.

The boat will be launched off the harbour wall which can be accessed by a ramp or stairs. It is a fixed structure and does not wobble, making it much easier to get in and out to the boat.


We look forward to welcoming you.