CRAB celebrates 30-year anniversary

Published on March 4th, 2021

Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB), founded in 1991 by Don Backe who was paralyzed in a car accident while in his 50s, celebrates 30 years of providing the thrill, freedom, and therapeutic value of sailing for anyone with a disability.

Backe took his enthusiasm for sailing and along with his wife Lyn, many friends and supporters, he built an organization to share the experience with thousands of people in Annapolis, MD.

CRAB provides sailing instruction to over 1,000 guests with the assistance of hundreds of trained volunteers every year from its base of operations at Sandy Point State Park. Sailing programs are held every week from April through October and include Family Sails, Group Sails, Sailing Camps and Clinics, and Regattas.

In 2017, the CRAB fleet was modernized and six new Beneteau First 22As (A for adaptive) boats were acquired and modified. In addition, the fleet offers a Martin 16 with a “sip & puff” steering system that allows a quadriplegic skipper to adjust the sails and move the tiller through their breath.

In 2021, CRAB is focused on building the premier adaptive boating center in the country with funding support from the State of Maryland, Anne Arundel County, and City of Annapolis. The center will feature a learning center and floating docks with specialized boarding equipment to allow guests easy access to CRAB’s fleet, as well as privately owned boats.

“When you see guests on our dock, often the caregivers have the biggest smiles of all. For me, that’s a great indicator of our success. We have a rich, 30-year history to celebrate,” said Board President David Hankey.

The CRAB 30th anniversary will be celebrated with special events, including a photo contest to capture the spirit of CRAB guests, family members, and volunteers.

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