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SOFTIN, Inc. Provides At-sea Opportunities

  • Published: 2009-07-06 (Revised/Updated 2016-03-18) : Author: Capt. David Bacon
  • Synopsis: SOFTIN Inc. provides at-sea education, skill building and self esteem building adventures for the disabled, impaired, victims of abuse, frail elderly and youths-at-risk.

Quote: "We have a broad curriculum to teach as much as we can, but the underlying focus to establish an emotional connection with the critters of the sea."

Main Document

Describes the work and opportunities of Seafaring Opportunities for Those In Need (SOFTIN), Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization providing at-sea educational adventure for disabled and other special-needs people of all ages.

Introducing SOFTIN and describing the work and the opportunities of this nonprofit organization serving the special needs community.

Seafaring Opportunities For Those In Need (SOFTIN), Inc., was started in August '07 to provide at-sea education, skill building and self esteem building experiences and adventures to those who need to most... the disabled, impaired, victims of abuse, frail elderly and youths-at-risk. We have been providing our services since day 1. We received our 501c3 status July 1, '08.

We have a broad curriculum to teach as much as we can, but the underlying focus to establish an emotional connection with the critters of the sea. When that magic moment happens, these previously withdrawn and fearful kids bust out of their emotional shells and become excited, animated and happy-go-lucky kids for the rest of the trip. It is an astounding and joyful transformation.

Captain David Bacon
Captain David Bacon - Photo Credit - Ramona Lisa McFadyen
Myself, along with my co-founders (Capt. Tiffany Vague, Ramona Lisa McFadyen and Debbi Bencomo), are known to frequently shed a tear over the profound work we do and the emotional expressions of gratitude from our special needs passengers. We are fortunate to have a Board of Directors fully engaged and helpful. That is a blessing.

We do not charge our special needs passengers. Our work is to benefit them.

Here is how SOFTIN works:

We do put together groups of special-needs individuals for our educational adventures, however we primarily collaborate with other nonprofits or government/educational agencies who serve the same special needs community... disabled, impaired, victims of abuse, frail elderly and youths-at-risk.

Those organizations or agencies choose from among the people they serve, based upon a needs analysis, rewards system, or whatever is best for them. They bring us 4 or 5 passengers plus 1 or 2 caregivers (for a maximum of 6, our legal limit). We provide our comprehensive curriculum on the water and then the organizations take the passengers home.

Wooden Sailing Ship at Dock
About This Image: Wooden Sailing Ship at Dock
Note that you can find our curriculum on our website, Most trips run 2 to 2.5 hours, however we tailor our curriculum, including time, according to the needs of the specific group of passengers.

Planning considerations for an educational adventure

Captain and Kaiden
About This Image: Captain and Kaiden
The heart of SOFTIN is educational adventures for special-needs people. To make the most of an opportunity, the planning stages are vitally important. SOFTIN staff works closely with caregivers from family or collaborating agencies bringing the adventure-seekers to us for an excursion.

Some special-needs people have more in the way of special-needs than others. For some, fear of the unknown is a huge obstacle to a rewarding experience and one which requires one-on-one nurturing and comforting throughout the educational adventure. We rely on caregivers to give us the information we need to provide for special-needs and in many cases we rely on caregivers to come along so the passengers can remain within their comfort zone and thereby maximize the benefits of the journey.

Other special-needs people just need opportunities to expand their horizons. They are comfortable boarding a vessel, taking instruction and joining in the learning activities. The important thing is to learn about special needs in advance of the trip and prepare accordingly.

Once our preparations are complete and we have provided for everyone's needs, we begin the fun part... Teaching enabling life skills and sense of self esteem to challenged special-needs people (including disabled, impaired, victims of abuse, frail elderly, youths-at-risk) though one-on-one, hands-on educational lessons and experiences at sea; practicing marlin-spike seamanship; viewing, identification and monitoring of marine mammals and seabirds; demonstrating subsistence/recreational fishing skills focused on the principles of ethical angling; teaching ocean conservation values and water quality issues; learning about the people, infrastructure, vessel types and job/career opportunities among our waterfront communities; monitoring and educating the public and resource managers about sea life and habitat.

We operate out of Santa Barbara Harbor and we have expansion plans as funding allows. Also on our website you will find our contact info. Perhaps you have a family member who qualifies? Are you part of an organization serving the same people and would like to collaborate? Will you make a tax-deductible donation? Care to express your support? All are welcome reasons to contact us.

Our needs are for special-needs people to serve and funding. We do the rest. SOFTIN's crew is made up of seagoing professionals with backgrounds in working with special-needs people, especially kids.

For more information, please visit our blog space at: and our website at


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