June 22, 2014

Exercises for those afloat

IN MY last column I mentioned John Guzzwell, who sailed around the world singlehanded in a 20-foot yawl. She had no headroom down below, and precious little space on deck. So now a reader in Idaho wants to know: “How did he get enough exercise when he was at sea?”

Guzzwell was only 25 at the time, and fit as a flea, so I don’t suppose he needed much exercise to keep fit. It is a recognized fact, though, that people who spend a lot of time aboard boats, especially those who permanently live aboard or those who are long-distance cruising, have a problem getting enough exercise.

This is particularly true for deep-sea voyagers in sailboats, who need upper-body strength more than anything, to handle the helm, the sheets, the halyards, and the reefing gear. As you get older, the problem becomes more acute, as many of you will have found out by now.

Luckily, however, there is a system of muscle strengthening that might well have been designed especially for boaters. I have already mentioned it in a previous column, which my reader in Idaho obviously missed. So, once again, here are the basics, which you can practice at home before a voyage starts, and even while you are under way:

Exercises for sailors over 50

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.
With a 5 lb potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.
Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10 lb potato bags.
Then try 15 lb potato bags and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 20 lb potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I’m at this level right now.)
After you feel confident at that level, start placing potatoes in the bags. 

Today’s Thought
I get my exercise running to the funerals of my friends who exercise.
— Barry Gray, New York, 19 May 80

A little 5-year-old girl was heard swearing like a trooper in a city park.  Somebody reported her to the park keeper who went up to her and said:  “I hear there’s someone in the park who’s using very naughty language.”
“Who told you that?” demanded the girl sharply.
“A bird whispered it in my ear,” said the park keeper.
“I’ll be damned,” said the girl.  “And I’ve been feeding the little bastards.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

1 comment:

Sixbears said...

My lovely wife and I got plenty of exercise coastal cruising. Long walks to get supplies and paddling a big inflatable kayak did the trick.