Mark’s story – Taking to the sea

After sustaining a T2 complete spinal cord injury last summer following a cycling accident, Mark Nugent took his first trip out to sea on a rib with Spinal Injuries Ireland while still a patient in the NRH.

He had heard about the rib trips with SII and although he had a fear of boats, he decided to face his fear head first and in doing so he found a new love for the sea.

“I don’t like boats at all. I was petrified the first day we went out, I didn’t know what to expect. The only boat I’d ever been on was a ferry and I would always get sea sick so it was my partner Jackie who pushed me to go for it.”

Mark, from Maynooth, explained that one of his worries about going out on the boat trip was being hoisted onto the boat as he was unsure of how it would work.

“I was petrified of being hoisted onto a boat and being uncomfortable, but the guys were so well organised. They just used the hoist as you would normally, and got me onto the boat. They even had blankets for us when it got cold. The first night I went out I was freezing cold because I can’t control my body temperature. It was a beautiful evening that night and I went out in short sleeves and a t-shirt and when we came back in I had a jacket on me, a silver blanket and a blanket over my legs to keep me warm. Everything that we needed was on the boat.

“The whole thing was very well organised because a bus picked me up at the door of the hospital, dropped me off at the door on the way home, and we got fish and chips on the way home. The next time we went out we got sausage and chips on the way home, and ice-cream another time. It’s just a brilliant trip.”

For the first trip he went on, the rib crew took Mark, Jackie and two other patients around Dalkey Island and up the River Liffey.

“It just happened to be the nicest day of the year last year when I went out for the first time. It was a beautiful sunny day. It was great to get out on a Tuesday evening from the hospital. At the time, because I was still a patient, I wasn’t used to leaving the hospital. I wasn’t even going home at weekends at that stage. So to be able to get out of the hospital environment and to have a bit of a break from the hospital setting was just brilliant.”

Mark explained that on both of the trips he did with Spinal Injuries Ireland, he travelled up the River Liffey.

“On one of the trips we went as far up as the Four Courts, and on the other one we went up as far as O’Connell Bridge. We also stopped off for coffee and tea. Then on the boat trip on the way back we stopped off at the East Wall boat club and it was the nicest cup of tea and a snack bar that you will get.

“To go up the Liffey and see Dublin in a completely different way, in a way that you’ve never seen it before in your life, is just amazing. I don’t like boats, I don’t like them at all, but this trip was different. Even to go from Dun Laoghaire, across Dublin Bay and up the Liffey, it’s just a rush.

“We were coming back one night and we were bouncing over the waves, and I was holding on for dear life but the two guys that were with me, they were just loving it.”

Mark explained that he would highly recommend heading out on the rib with SII and said it is something everyone should try to experience.

“It was one of those things that I will always remember as being brilliant, and the photographs I got were amazing too. I got loads of photographs going out on the boat and going up the Liffey. The rib trips were one of the highlights of last year. It’s definitely up there with one of the best two things I did while I was in Dun Laoghaire and I’d highly recommend to anyone thinking of doing it, to go for it.”