KATHRYN Stephens loves the freedom of open water, the wind in her face and the spray off the bow stinging her skin.
Kathryn is blind but her greatest joy every Wednesday is joining her sailing partner out on the Hastings River as a part of the Sailability program.
Thanks to the ongoing support of local business Smarter Property Group, Kathryn is now commandeering a yacht with a new sail and couldn't be happier.
Property investment consultant Paul Loughland said the business had supported Sailability since its inception in 2012.
"This is a great cause for local businesses to support. Sailability provides people with disabilities a fantastic opportunity to get out on the water and be a part of an activity they may not normally have access to," Mr Loughland said.
"We would love to encourage more local businesses to get on board and show their support."
In two years, Sailability Port Macquarie has steadily grown to provide a safe but challenging sporting activity to about 50 people with disabilities every Wednesday.
The non-profit volunteer organisation uses specially designed sailing dinghies with simplified controls enabling people with a disability to enjoy the freedom of splicing through the water off McInherney Park each week.
More than 60 volunteers run the sailing days supported by members of Port Macquarie yacht Club and Port Macquarie Sailing Club. With the financial support of the district's Rotary Clubs, the state government, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and local businesses, there are now 10 dinghies and two twin hull outboard safety boats in the fleet.
Students from the disability support units at high schools in Port Macquarie, Laurieton, Wauchope, Kempsey and Taree participate in the program.
Coordinator Wayne Evans said the program has proven its benefit in two years and will continue to grow.
"It gives our participants independence and confidence and improves their self esteem and love for the water," Mr Evans said.
The program will now be open to elderly residents living with dementia from the Catholic Care of the Aged. The group also has a plan, with successful grant funding, to construct an access-friendly walkway and pontoon.