The Sensations of the Sea: The Blind Sailors of the Rías Baixas

The smell of salt and seaweed, the sway of the waves, the cries of the seagulls, the lapping of the water, the wind in the sails and the force of the rudder, the spray on your cheeks and the chill of the air: these are the sensations of the sea through which the blind can navigate; feeling a landscape which they cannot see. 

IMG_2202_lznSentir O Mar (Feeling the Sea) is a project which seeks to immerse the blind into the landscape, giving them an incomparable experience of the natural world by teaching them how to board a boat, how to hold themselves and how to navigate on the traditional sailing boats of Galicia’s sparkling Rias Baixas.

When I took the rudder, I felt the wind in my face, and the wind in your face tells you whether or not you’re directing the boat well, because when the boat is going well you feel the wind less, and when you fell the wind most you have to turn, move the rudder to go in the correct direction”, one participant of Sentir O Mar explains.

Sentir O Mar teaches children to navigate the seas, not the web.”

– Lives and Times

But beyond the immediate aim of the project to submerge the blind into the marine world there is a broader objective of raising the consciousness of those who enjoy the full enjoyment of sight. Sentir O Mar works with primary and secondary schools to educate the next generation on the challenges and needs of the visually and physically impaired, having students participate in learning experiences which cultivate empathy, creativity, and consciousness.

A participant of Sentir O Mar feels a miniature replica before boarding

We live in a world that is so stimulated by the visual: screens, snapshots, and all that is sensorial superficial surrounds us and colonises our public and private spaces  and so we underestimate the power of tact, smell, sounds, and taste in educating children. We worship academic knowledge but forget the other intelligences of the individual: corporal, musical, spatial, ecological, social, emotional, linguistic, and logical intelligences which can be found away from screens and developed, in this case, close to the sea. Sentir O Mar teaches children to navigate the seas, not the web.

Sentir O MarSentir O Mar is “a life project: a project of attitudes, of an open and inclusive society where nearly nothing is impossible. It breaks barriers, builds piers, raises sails, holds the rudder and takes the path…” Sentir O Mar allows the blind to sense a landscape which they cannot see, it allows those of us with vision to imagine a life without sight but one lived in a sea of sensations.

Lives and Times…

Lives and Times gives voice to those who seek to humanise the social world and harmonise the natural world. For more, subscribe to Lives and Times: Writing on the World Around Us.

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