Raymond Plunkett wasn't thinking of his legs or his wheelchair Sunday afternoon, or of the bullet that smashed his spine a decade ago.
The West Baltimore man was looking out over the Inner Harbor and thinking about why a sailboat ride meant so much.
"I can't explain it," said Plunkett, 36. "It's like freedom."
Captain Will Rey had the motor running and went to cast off the lines of the Impossible Dream, a 60-foot, multimillion-dollar catamaran built for a crew in wheelchairs. The stern had a hydraulic lift. The deck had a flat racecourse. An elevator could lower a wheelchair to the cabin below.
"You can literally drive on in your chair," said Lynn Handy, executive director of Downtown Sailing Center in Locust Point. "It's one thing to go for a ride, and it's another thing to crew it."
The sailing center and Kennedy Krieger Institute welcomed the catamaran to Baltimore. It's touring coastal cities this summer, and offering free rides to the wheelchair-bound.
"You're able to enjoy a kind of independence," said Rey, from Florida. "You see in their faces, all of a sudden, well, they get this idea, 'Maybe I can do something?'"
The Impossible Dream was commissioned by Mike Browne, a British entrepreneur who was paralyzed in a skiing accident. He wanted to continue to sail the oceans in his wheelchair. After a decade, he sold the catamaran to Deborah Mellen, a paraplegic businesswoman from Miami.
Mellen and the crew have sent the catamaran on its tour. The crew arrived late Friday and welcomed visitors on board through Sunday.
"It's trying to inspire the concept that through design you can have something that's accessible for all," Rey said.