The Wish 4 Fish vessel gleams brightly at her mooring, the sun glinting off her fresh paint.
The 18m catamaran is no ordinary boat - it is purpose built to provide the more than one million New Zealanders living with illness and disability access to the ocean.
After more than a year of construction, Wish 4 Fish has been launched and is ready for a summer on the water.
Floating the boat is a dream realised for Bryce Dineen, who envisaged Wish 4 Fish whilst lying on his back in the Burwood Spinal Unit in 2007, after a shallow water diving accident severely damaged his spinal cord.
“It’s a massive accomplishment,” says Bryce. “I’m pretty humbled by it.
“The intrinsic reward for me will be when you see those people out on the water with smiles on their faces.”
Wish 4 Fish is named after the charity Bryce started in 2011, so people like himself could experience fishing and salt water activities. They would use charter boats for fishing trips.
The $2.5 million dollar vessel is fully equipped with wheelchair access in mind. It has space for up to 25 people with varying levels of disabilities.
A wheelchair access lift to the fly bridge enables people to experience the ocean from the skipper’s point of view.
A full-loop gantry crane allows bathroom access for all levels of wheelchair users, while hospital beds for overnight trips are a possibility, although most excursions will span half-a-day.
The fishing equipment has been designed by project manager Ray Lowe for people with all levels of disability. There are electric rod holders to enable independent angling and a fully automated rod for those with limited mobility.
Television screens on the fly bridge and main deck are hooked up to 30x zoom cameras to show dolphins playing in the bow wave and other marine life they encounter.
Wish 4 Fish manager Tony Pearce says the wheelchair is the king or queen of the vessel.
He says things like rushing to the side of a boat to see marine life is something able-bodied people take for granted, so to have screens gives everyone a true seagoing experience.
“You have to go out on the water to witness what we call the magic moments,” says Tony.
“A day out on the water can bring so much joy and provide our beneficiaries with lifelong memories.”
Bryce’s dream is to wake up at Mayor Island and watch the sunrise, and while this is now possible his main focus is getting others out on the water.
Wish 4 Fish has 200 beneficiaries booked for trips in December, which are free of any charge. This mean’s the charity’s next mission is to fundraise so they can continue giving people “magic moments”.
The campaign, called 1000 Magic Moments, aims to raise funds for 1000 beneficiary trips per year. It costs around $180 to get one beneficiary and their carer out on the water.
For information about trips, or to donate, visit: www.wish4fish.co.nz