Juliette, looking relaxed and confident in a small boat, in the sun in Cardiff Bay
Juliette, who has chronic fatigue syndrome, gets back on the water in Cardiff Bay

I felt better being close to nature and in the elements


It felt good to be part of a group activity again in a way I could manage


Meet Juliette

The exhilaration of sailing is incredible

"During the last session I sailed out into the middle of Cardiff Bay, next to a flock of seagulls on the sea. The sun shone and the boat rocked gently in the breeze, I felt a moment of great contentment. I enjoyed the gusts of wind catching the sails propelling the boat speedily forwards". 

As Juliette reflects on her joy of being on the water with Cardiff Bay Sailability she also remembers her love of outdoor activities stopped abruptly in 1995 when she developed myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME / CFS). As a teenager Juliette was a keen sailor and learnt to sail with her school at Cardiff RYA centre. She always wanted to return to sailing and recently discovered Sailability via the internet and reached out to the local centre in Cardiff Bay who were confident they could get Juliette back on the water.

Excited and worried

Juliette was looking forward to spending time out on the water after so many years and being outdoors in the fresh air. She goes on, "Also being able to regain a part of myself I had lost when I could no longer partake in outdoor activities. Meeting other people was important, especially after the isolation of both a relapse and lockdown".

Juliette was concerned she wouldn’t be able to manage the physicality of sailing, as she has muscle pain, nausea, fatigue and post-exertional malaise. "It’s a very fine line of balancing rest and activity with ME/CFS and I was worried I may overstep it.”

Living up to expectations

"In an initial telephone chat, the organiser allayed some of my concerns, explaining that the Hansa 303s are easy to sail, and that volunteers could accompany me if I wished." Juliette says the prior chat with the organiser gave her the confidence to try it alone. "It was a steep learning curve remembering how to sail, particularly with my cognitive fatigue, aka brain fog. But the Hansa 303 was great to sail for me - I could sit in one place, with a seat supporting my back, using a joystick rather than a tiller and didn’t have to manoeuvre about.” Juliette says she took a lot of confidence from the stability of the Hansa. 

More than anything, Juliette reflects “It was fantastic taking part in an activity again that I loved. I enjoyed talking with the other participants. We all had different circumstances but with help we were able to sail together. It felt good to be part of a group activity again in a way I could manage.”


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