It was a single Facebook post by Design Ability that caught our eye. Immediately, The Watercraft Journal was in contact with Take Point Now’s own Team Leader, PK Ewing, who walked us through the development of this amazing prototype:
“Since I started Take Point Now, one of my goals was to create opportunities for my fellow veterans to experience the relief and exhilaration that I felt while on jet skis. I looked for adaptive controls for jet skis but did not find any. So I resolved to get one built as a way to bring a a severely Wounded Warrior onto my team and get him or her riding with us to show how veterans are unstoppable when we are teamed up.
“I contacted Bill Stuck of Design Ability Inc. Bill is a highly skilled engineer and has been building adaptive controls for golf carts, ATVs and side by sides for sometime and he was intrigued by the engineering challenge my project presented. I contracted him to build me a prototype jet ski that someone with only one arm could use.
“This prototype is based on a Kawasaki STX-15F personal watercraft. Instead of a traditional handlebar setup, we had the handlebars replaced by a single control yoke. One the end of the control yoke is a joystick. All control functions are incorporated into the single joystick. Throttle, start/stop, forward/reverse are all relocated so that they can be controlled by one hand. The yoke is ambidextrous and can be controlled by a left or right hand equipped rider.
“The second prototype (not yet built) is oriented to the rider with a disability to the lower body. Riding and controlling a jet ski requires use of the lower body to provide leverage against the seat and gunnels. Basically you use a lot of body english. A paralyzed rider or a rider with a very high leg amputation (close to the hip) would not be able to exert that leverage and would have difficulty riding and controlling the machine.
“We’re going to build a prototype saddle type seat that will hold a rider in place but allow the rider to dismount easily in case of the machine overturning. The saddle will be adjustable for comfort and size and allow the rider to exert leverage on the ski to aid in riding.
“My plan is to offer these as a template and inspiration for others to follow and improve upon. I’m going to partner with a non-profit that would serve as the mechanism to get more of these built. Bill has some proprietary work invested in this machine so we’ll work through Design Ability Inc. for details on its construction.
“Basically, Take Point Now will have a partner non-profit who will partner with marinas around the country to build these modifications & tweak them for each rider since everyone’s injury is different. Marinas have craftsmen and machine shops and can build adaptive controls based off of the general templates we’re building. Whatever costs the marinas incur would be written off through Take Point Now’s non-profit partner.
“However, and let me be clear on this: Take Point Now is not a non-profit. And we have not put this plan into action yet. We have a lot of legal research and wrangling to do before that happens. But the long term goal is for everyone who wants to get on a PWC (veteran or non-veteran) to be able to get on a PWC.”
Any non-profits who are interested in supporting Take Point Now’s long range goals should contact PK Ewing directly at (202) 739-1992.