By Carol McCracken (Post # 316)
There’d been a steady stream of visitors to the RawFaith for the past two days and Captain George McKay had probably welcomed all of them personally to his 118 ft. ship that is the only tall ship in America designed and built with wheelchair accessibility in mind. “We’re not there yet, but we are working on it,” said the 53 year old Captain – George McKay, yesterday afternoon.
The inspiration for this massive undertaking is McKay’s 30 year old daughter, Elizabeth, who suffers from Marfans Syndrome. She is wheelchair bound and lives in southern Virginia now. The McKay family lived through its own emotional chaos as it watched their young daughter go from surgery to surgery during her childhood. “She had to fight and claw for every inch of recovery. Her challenges ran the gamut,” says McKay in his book “A Pictorial Guide to RawFaith.” Her pain free days are rare as she’s been severely handi-capped by this disease, McKay added.
Last week the RawFaith and its five member crew were heading to Salem, Massachusetts when it ran into bad weather off Portland Harbor. So, she headed into Portland Yacht Services to find refuge from the almost 6 ft. seas she’d encountered offshore. In Salem, McKay had planned on giving tours over the Halloween weekend as well as recruiting possible crew members for the ship’s continued journey to Brazil. McKay is sailing her to Brazil to have the ship bottom copper plated; labor is far less expensive there and copper is plentiful. He said yesterday afternoon that he’s in talks with several area people who may join him for the upcoming trip to Brazil.
Captain McKay was formerly employed by a major Massachusetts-based company, Digital Equipment Corp., in its Augusta office in the 1980’s. A self-educated man, he was employed there as an electrical engineer. Eventually, he began his own company and invented an internet switch. That “start-up” company was sold to US Robotics and today is part of 3-Com, a large internet company.
The RawFaith was launched in Addison in 2003. McKay said it took him and three sons 28 months over a 4 year period to build RawFaith. While his mission is not faith-based, McKay said he does have his own faith. “RawFaith” “speaks of the inner srength displayed by so many children bornwith physical disabilities who, in spite of their situations, still believe in the joy and beauty that can be found in life. Their strength is raw and so is their faith,” McKay wrote in his book referred to above.
RawFaith remains in port at Portland Yacht Services for the next week or so, although tours are not available. For more information, please visit www.rawfaithsailing adventures.com. You may email him at: email@example.com