Cornwall has always held a great affinity for the sea and the wealth of activities it provides, writes George Fortey.

Whether it be the Olympic exploits of Sir Ben Ainslie or the success of the local gig rowing teams, water sports have been and still are being, enjoyed right across Falmouth and its surrounds.

However, there are a small minority of people who are not fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the sport as much as the rest of us.

Blind at Sea (BATS) is a charity set up to help visually impaired people (or VIPs as they call them) interact with the sea through sports such as sailing, gig rowing and fishing.

Fran Branfield, commodore of the club, hopes the charity can help remove any stigma that many visually impaired people can face.

“The club aims to break down barriers mixing visually impaired people with non-visually impaired, showing that they can perform the same tasks and enjoy the same activities.”

Through activities organised by the club, VIPs are given the opportunity to participate in a range of roles including crewing, helming and racing.

The trips can range from social jaunts down the river or more extensive trips to the Helford, depending on the preference of the crew.

BATS runs weekly sailing trips out of Mylor harbour using its own yacht the Mandarin, as well as a small fleet of volunteer boats. Additionally, there are fortnightly gig rows set up with the help of Nankersey Gig Club, all of course weather permitting.

The club is always looking for new volunteers to join and help the charity reach out to more visually impaired people in Cornwall.

If you would like to get in touch with BATS or would like any further details on the charity please contact Fran on 01872 552015 or

Anyone who would like their minority sport to be featured in the Packet, please call Matt Dixon on 01326 213338 or email