Wheels on Deck, Inc.© is an IRS approved non-profit public charity organization that provides exclusive fishing and cruising experiences only for individuals in wheelchairs and their companions in a safe, specialty-equipped and accessible sport-fishing boat, The Bazinga.
Fishing and cruising trips on the Bazinga, originate from the OBX Marina, located in Wanchese, North Carolina. In cooperation with the OBX Marina, all trips aboard the Bazinga include a licensed captain and first mate, who are knowledgeable about the waters and experience fisherman.
The Bazinga, a 43-foot Blackwell Express, is a custom-made boat in North Carolina, known for its seaworthiness in all types of weather conditions. It was chosen for this purpose because it is overall structurally well-suited to provide such specialized, safe fishing trips and excursions. To achieve this purpose, extensive structural renovations were made over a two-year period to the boat's interior in order to accommodate two wheelchairs according to ADA guidelines.
Powered by twin Cummins diesel engines, the Bazinga has been upgraded with new shafts, propellers, fuel tanks, seating, accessibility and safety accommodations. New electronics include a Garmin system with redundancy, VHF radio, auto pilot, new tower and hardtop, and a fresh- water misting system. The cabin below is equipped with heat, air conditioning, together with an accessible toilet with a privacy curtain, shower, and sink for wheelchair users.
What Drives Us
"My mission is to give individuals in wheelchairs an opportunity to experience the joys of fishing, boating and being on the open water, as I did with my late father. It is because of my familiarity with my father’s mobility limitations in being a wheelchair user, and his love for fishing, that I realize how meaningful these excursions can be to ones mental and physical health and enjoyment. It is because of him that I have made this personal commitment to offer this experience to others in similar circumstances." — Jay Fohs
In June 2011, Wheels on Deck Inc.© was formed and the planning to fulfill the vision dedicated to my late father began in earnest, with the search to find the right type of boat to meet this need. In 2014 a boat suitable to renovate to accommodate wheelchair users was finally located. In April 2015, work got underway on a 43’ Blackwell Express, with significant interior and exterior renovations made so that two wheelchairs could safely and easily get onto and maneuver about the boat.
Successfully adapting and retrofitting a traditional sport-fishing boat requires that multiple accessibility measures be in place for the safety of all individuals on board. As shown in the photographs below, access from a floating dock onto the deck of the boat requires a ramp with specific safeguards in place to stabilize the wheelchair and its passenger. Once on board, additional needed space has been created which enables the wheel-chaired individual to move from the deck to the helm, via a scissors-lift, where the chair is safely secured with specially installed braces. A similar lift now exists so that the wheelchair can go below into the cabin where an accessible bathroom with privacy has been constructed. To ensure that requirements for wheelchair users are being met, we have followed the wheelchair accessible guidelines available from the ADA.
Board of Directors
Founder/President- John J. Fohs
Vice President- Dolph Jerabek
Vice President- Vern Gilbert
Secretary - Donna H. Fohs