Do you remember when our parents told us this daily, “Go outside!)? Little did we know that it lead to exercise, fresh air, weight control, adventure, scrapes, bruises, meeting people, playing games, digging a hole to China, and everything else we did as children and young adults.
Research is in: “People are not going outside as much as they used to.” Electronic gizmos have replaced many outdoor activities. Across the boards, camping, sailing, golfing, cycling, running, etc. etc. etc. are all reporting reduced participation. What is gaining? People’s weight (me included)!
What do the researchers recommend to increase participation in all outdoor activities and for American’s to lose weight? Go Outside! Turn off the electronic gizmos and seek your own adventure rather than living others adventures vicariously through the internet.
What’s the right way to lose weight? Diet and exercise. That word “exercise” just isn’t very appealing, no matter how well it is written. Let’s ditch that word and replace it with “Sailing!” So call it “Diet and Sailing.”
How do you get exercise sailing? Don’t sailors just sit around with a drink, with a little umbrella in it, sailing across the sea? Ha! That is my one-word answer.
Here’s a day of a sailor – During the sailing season, getting up, getting packed and heading out the door expends a little energy. Once to the boat, it has to be rigged (trimming lines in storage are laid out and fed through blocks and cleats, there’s a lot of bending and stretching, pulling and climbing up and down the stairs inside the boat, or if a small boat up and down the trailer. Most sails need to be carried and put on, some weigh 20 pounds, others can weigh over 100 pounds. Carrying these in seas across the deck isn’t like walking down the street with grocery bags, you also have to balance as the boat bobs in the harbor or at sea.
Hoisting sails up and down, trimming them in with block and tackle or using winches many times has me huffing and puffing, make enough tacks or jibes and sweat comes pouring out (now we’re getting somewhere). Moving around the boat as it heels on one side or the other causes you to climb up and down hill all day long. Actually almost all of the time it is uphill as you always go to the “high side” to use your weight to help level the boat out. In a tack you go to the new high side. This is one time you can tell your kids “You walked uphill both ways” – and it is true!
Just sitting requires energy, commonly the boat is swaying in the waves, your arm and muscles around your waist are working constantly to keep you in balance.
Most of the time, your body is in perpetual motion the entire time you sail. It is only on the days that there is little wind and no waves that you get a break and take it easy.
At the end of the sail, all sails are folded, and stowed away. All trimming lines are removed, coiled and stowed.
On days you perform maintenance, cleaning, checking rigging, repairing, you might get hoisted up the mast or be one of the shleps grinding the winch to get some other person up the mast. You might dive and wash the bottom of the boat (to remove growing seaweed that slows a boat down).
Now, I don’t sweat, huff and puff all day long. It comes in bursts as sails are changed, the boat tacks, jibes or the wind strength changes. There are days where it is almost non-stop (if you race sailboats vs. just cruise or day-sail). The body is huffing, puffing and sweating like a race horse if that is the adventure you seek.
There’s something special about working inside of a hull, it seems that most nuts on bolts require you to be upside down, twisted on an angle, in the dark, with the crescent wrench behind your back just at that point between your shoulder blades where you can’t normally reach! You do get a lot of stretching exercise.
Sometimes, you drop an anchor with friends and go for a swim, far from shore, no where near the ability to “touch the bottom.” Others will put out a fishing pole and try their luck.
It doesn’t end in winter. You still need to go outside to your boat. Maybe you want to add a stereo to it, or something wasn’t working right all season and you want to improve it. Maybe its time to give it that big buffing and waxing. Or some interior thorough cleaning, or maybe a big renovation. I’ve spent many a winter weekends in shipyards, climbing up and down the ladder all day.
I do itch to get outdoors, I love the outdoors. Last night I was doing some weeding and accidentally picked up a Praying Mantis. This leaf was wiggling in my hand (so I thought!). That was my adventure for the day. A YouTube video wouldn’t have done that experience any justice! Real life experiences are so much better.
Seek your own adventure. Diet and Sailing! But I have yet to have a drink with a little umbrella in it, or see anyone else with one in their hand!
Go outside. Now.
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