MR. ZALES: I am sure that you all received the last letter we sent you all. Rather than go through the whole thing, I'd kind of like to just get to the changes that we recommended.
One comment that I have in here is that where we still look to try to look for some kind of extension for the small passenger vessels with the recommendation that we work with the Access Board in order to develop guidelines in cases to where -- and to make suggestions on where changes can be made and people really want to, say, develop a full ADA accessible vessel, that these recommendations be followed. And in all cases where they can be, that it be highly suggested that they be done.
In a situation such as with airlines, we still have to kind of go down that route. To explain a little bit further, a lot of times with an airplane and they get into turbulent weather, a pilot tends to try to fly around the weather or changes altitude, does something different to try to get into a calmer atmosphere. On a boat that's impossible to do. Once you get stuck in bad weather, you're there for the duration of the weather pattern that you would like to get out of.
So in that respect, it's very difficult to have a vessel be modified in a way that is going to affect it so. And at the same time where you have these different mechanisms, with airlines you have these special wheelchairs, that from the ones that I have viewed and looked at, they're very narrow to slide these people up and down the narrow aisleways. On a boat that's going to be a very unstable piece of equipment because it's real skinny but fairly tall, and you get any kind of wave action at all and it's just unstable and probably unsafe on a vessel.
It's been suggested to us by some that we try to make some minor modifications to boats to kind of show a good faith effort, and we have thought about that long and hard. And as an example, on a very small boat, on a 25-foot center console vessel, which a lot of our members have those kind of vessels, a lot of those vessels are launched at boat ramps. And to get on and off the boat, basically if you are in a wheelchair, generally what happens is the person in the wheelchair is wheeled down, and get out of the wheelchair, sit on the gunnel of the vessel, get into the vessel and then be stabilized. It's been suggested that maybe we talk about putting a piece of equipment for them to sit on on the gunnel. And that's a great idea, but in our discussions we talked about why do they need to do that when they're just sitting on the gunnel now and they're not having any problems getting on there. That's kind of where we're coming from on this.
We want to do everything we can to comply and we feel like that our sector has really done a very good job on providing access to the physically challenged because we encourage that, and we try to take -- and everybody we can tries to envision and do whatever we do and we work very hard to try to accommodate everybody we can. But in some cases it's just going to be -- and actually probably most cases, it's going to be impossible to modify existing vessels to change aisleways, rails, doorways and compartments to meet the guidelines that you all have suggested in the deal. I guess that's pretty much about all I have to add to what we've done. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them for you.
MR. [GARY] TALBOT [BOARD MEMBER]: Hi Bob, it's Gary Talbot. Just a quick question for you. As far as main program accessibility on the smaller vessels that you have, whether it be like fishing boats or sightseeing boats, once you get on board, are you able to participate like everybody else?
MR. ZALES: You're talking about the person being able to participate in the activity?
MR. TALBOT: Right. Like if it's a dinner boat, can they actually get into the area where the dinner is happening?
MR. ZALES: Generally, on a dinner boat -- your dinner boats are larger vessels and they have wider aisles. For fishing for sure it's that way. They're able to participate in the activity a hundred percent. I mean, there are even cases where some of the boats -- because I do this personally, sometimes you may have someone that's lost an arm, and for a standard rod and reel where you have to hold with one hand and reel with the other, it's impossible to do. We provide electric reels for those kinds of situations where they can operate the rod and reel that way.
So as far as participating, it's not a situation where the people would get on the vessel and just be sitting there and not be able to participate in everything that was going on.
MR. TALBOT: Would you say that the biggest issue for you guys with the smallest vessels is on/off?
MR. ZALES: Well, yeah, but I'm not even sure if that's the issue. A lot of it depends on the dockage, where you are, and that all varies, the marinas where you dock at. Some people -- not charter boats, but some boats are launched at public facilities, so then you have bureaucratic -- somehow municipal or state entity in charge, which we have no control of whatsoever.
In some cases at marinas, in cases they're fully compliant with ADA and in some cases they're not. But to carry a lot of the additional equipment that we require for the vessel itself to provide this would be, Number 1, it would affect the stability of the vessel and space and whatnot on the vessel. And then Number 2 would be the cost that would be involved. But to be honest with you, I don't know of a case, and I am a member anyway of Mako. But I don't know of a case to where there's been a problem of getting access to and from the vessel.
And I am sure a lot of you understand that -- in most of the cases it's like when someone comes to my boat and they're in a wheelchair, and I just had a case like this a couple weeks ago. I have a family that fishes with me about every year, and they have a son, I guess he's about 17 now, in a wheelchair. We physically pick the wheelchair up, set it on the boat and tie it down, and he's good to go. And we do the same thing when we get back.
So a lot of that depends on the area you're in. Like in the area where I'm in, we have a small tide range, a foot, maybe two-foot maximum. In some areas you get up into Alaska and places on the East Coast, you have a wide range of tides, in some cases 15 or 20 feet. So it depends on the facility and the area more than anything else for the accessibility.
MR. TALBOT: Thank you. Anybody have any other questions?
MS. [PAMELA] DORWARTH [BOARD MEMBER]: You mentioned most of the transfer chairs that they use, like with the airlines, have very high -- they do not any longer, they have the ones that are much lower and they have many more straps to tie you in. They're more secure. You might want to investigate that.
MR. ZALES: I'm sorry. I didn't catch that whole question. Could you say it one more time, please?
MS. DORWARTH: You mentioned that the transfer chairs, like the airlines use, have a very high back that wouldn't be very accommodating for your vessels.
MR. ZALES: It's also not just the high back. The seat behind -- they're higher in a sense. They have a narrow wheelbase, and in looking at them, it appears to be that the wheelbase width in relation to the height of the seat where the balance of the weight would be would make it very unstable in any kind of a sea state at all. If you're on land or right there on the dock and whatnot, it would be okay. But if you get in any kind of sea state at all, very seldom are we looking at operating in calm seas, it would be, in our opinion anyway, very unstable.
MS. DORWARTH: Well, what I'm saying is the airlines now have a lower -- it doesn't have the high back. It has different type of tie-down situation and it rises and lowers itself. You need to check into their new transfer seating.
MR. ZALES: Okay.
MS. DORWARTH: It might be much more accommodating than what you're familiar with.
MR. ZALES: I will do some research into that.
MR. TALBOT: Anybody else? Thank you very much, Bob. We really appreciate the input on that.
MR. ZALES: Thank you all for allowing this. If there's any way we can work with you, we are willing to do anything we can do to try to work on this issue together.