Skip to main content

Cruising Tips - First Aid

Bad Backs and Boats (May 2006)Several months ago I wrote that I had to be very careful of my back when I was on board a boat. Since then I've received a number of letters from sailors asking whether I do anything specific to protect my back when I'm sailing. The answer is that I've tried many things over the years to reduce my back pain, including limited surgery, visits to
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Bad Backs and Boats (May 2006)

Several months ago I wrote that I had to be very careful of my back when I was on board a boat. Since then I've received a number of letters from sailors asking whether I do anything specific to protect my back when I'm sailing. The answer is that I've tried many things over the years to reduce my back pain, including limited surgery, visits to chiropractors, and acupuncture. But I'm still susceptible to discomfort, and if I'm not careful the pain can become severe. I'm constantly aware of how hard I'm working my back.

It's not just a matter of putting a limit on, say, how much weight to lift. I need to assess how much bending my back can safely absorb; stuffing a sail into a sailbag for example, is almost sure to give me a backache. I'm fortunate that my wife, Terrie, is fit and energetic—and, yes, she does much of the hard work when we are sailing. We've also done what we can to minimize heavy loads. A powered anchor windlass came first, followed by roller furling and reefing; our newest boat, a 45-footer, has electric primary winches as well as an electrically powered mainsail-halyard winch.

We use a crane to lift the outboard motor from the dinghy, and we hoist the dinghy itself with the electric halyard winch. Although these devices take care of most of the heavy routine work on board, I still get backaches. I only rarely sleep through the night on the boat, but it's no different at home, so I'm not about to give up sailing. Unfortunately, I have no magic bullet to offer. The best advice I can give is to make sure you know your body's limits on weight and flex, then do everything possible to stay within them.
Nigel Calder

Soothing the Seasick (May 2006)

My wife, Ursula, is prone to seasickness, as is our cat. My wife tried many of the standard remedies, but aside from getting thirsty and becoming drowsy, she didn't feel any better. Then a fellow cruiser mentioned having had good luck with Triptone. Happily, my wife found that it worked for her, even after the onset of seasickness, which has not been the case with the other brand-name medications.

We've since discovered that this product is well known in the diving community and is carried by many dive shops. It's also available through local pharmacies. Of course, you should consult your doctor before using any medication.

We've also found it helpful to spend several days at anchor before heading offshore. My wife says this helps her get used to the boat's motion and start to get her sea legs. Certain foods—citrus-, ginger-, or lime-flavored drinks and ginger ale—seem to work well for us, and we've found that eating smaller amounts of food more often helps too. We avoid sweets in favor of salty crackers or pretzels. If your sweet tooth needs attention, try ginger cookies.

Giving human crew a seasickness medication is one thing; giving such a medication to a cat or dog without clear instructions from a knowledgeable veterinarian is another. We medicate our cat, in a dose appropriate for her weight. She often becomes drowsy. We keep her comfortable and place a container with water nearby. Hugging, holding, or petting a seasick animal also seems to reduce its stress level. Hans Peter Mueller

Click here for the Cruising Tips Archive

Related

DUFOUR_470.JM-LIOT-15

Boat Review: Dufour 470

Annapolis may be the sailing capital of America, but if you looked around the United States Sailboat Show last fall, you would have no choice but to conclude most sailboats are now built in Europe. The Dufour 470 is a good example of a modern French performance cruiser. DESIGN & ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_6563

Close Encounters: Captain Sarah Schelbert

I met Captain Sarah Schelbert back in 2019 while on the boat trip from hell aboard a seaworthy but poorly run Triton 28 in the western Caribbean. I was trying to help the owner sail his boat back to Florida from the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala. Outbound from the river basin, we had ...read more

02-Voice-of-the-Oceans---sailboat-Kat-11

Raising Their Voices

Many of us who are cruising sailors have been sailing mid-ocean or walking along a perfect beach in the middle of seemingly nowhere, only to be appalled at the amount of plastic trash we find. Few of us, however, have taken that disheartening reality and turned it into a ...read more

IC37racingonSunday-Photo-by-Paul-Todd

IC37 North American Championship

This past weekend saw 20 IC37s off Newport, Rhode Island engage in fast and furious one-design racing with the win going to Peter McClennen’s Gamecock. “It’s huge,” said McClennen of the win. “I think of the one-designs of this club going back to the New York 30 [built in ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_2056

South Pacific Storm Prep

Having set ourselves the task of transforming our recently purchased Open 66 ex-Vendée Globe racer, NV, into a performance family cruiser, my partner, Timo, and I found ourselves (extremely) high and dry as cyclone season approached. The favorite cyclone strategy in Fiji is to ...read more

00-Alexe-1---GUaGKDY4-single-boat-sailing-away-from-skyline,-Hill-Holiday

Cruising: Find Your Own Adventure

Whether they’re at the end of their collegiate career or after aging out of a summer sailing program, a lot of young sailors have a hard time finding a way to continue sailing as adults. Some of the barriers to sailing, including location, finances and time, can be hard to ...read more

00LEAD-IMG_2183

Heavy Hitters on Heavy Weather

“What’s the joke about heavy weather? You know it when you see it.” Figure 8 singlehander Randall Reeves drew laughs from the Cruising Club of America (CCA) sailors attending the forum “Heavy Weather Sailing: Bluewater Perspectives” as part of the CCA’s centennial celebration in ...read more

Nominne-Promo-2048x1149

Best Boat Nominees 2023

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. Some of it is timing. Some of it is just the way of the world. Either way, it can be fascinating to see the evolution of the boatbuilding industry over the years, as has been evident in SAIL magazine’s annual Best Boats ...read more