Sailing: A non-activity activity 

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean about 75 miles offshore north of New York.

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean about 75 miles offshore north of New York.

I’ve been on the boat since last week and have discovered something: if I want to get my steps (current target: 13000) each day I need to get off the boat. But if I’m not going to land, forget it.

We were underway for 54 hours recently and during each of those days I barely managed 3000 steps. I did a little walk around the catamaran deck and discovered it gave me about 50-60 steps. No problem! 10 rounds for (let’s estimate high) 600 steps. 100 round for 6000. 200 for 12000 and I’m sure the other 1000 would come out in the wash.

I can say with complete confidence that doing 200 rounds of the deck is not something I’m about to do. So for three days (because day three was a bit of a washout too after 54 hours at sea, with a harrowing night watch offshore from New York where I spent 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. keeping an eye on fishing boats and enormous cargo ships and tankers–I slept a lot when we dropped out anchor in Newport), I submitted “no activity” as my GCC entry.

I like that they give the option. What happens on a no activity day is they give you your average minus 2000 steps. So, more than you did but less than you usually do. It seems fair enough to me because heaven knows I’d never be that inactive by choice.

When I got my rest and had a full day where I felt human again I hit the pavement to explore Newport, Rhode Island, which is an awesome seaside town on a gorgeous harbor full of the prettiest sail boats I’ve ever seen. Some of them are spectacular. That day I had no trouble exceeding my target, with Renald right alongside me (and we even went to a movie).

Visiting the International School of Yacht Restoration in Newport. The Coronet restoration project.

First day back on land: Visiting the International School of Yacht Restoration in Newport. The Coronet restoration project.

More from IYSA. First year project (the Beetle Cat restoration). Before.

More from IYSA. First year project (the Beetle Cat restoration). Before.

The thing is, it’s really not all that difficult to get over 13000 steps in a day but you have to walk somewhere or make a point of going for a walk. It doesn’t just happen.

Being on the boat is not much different from working at home. If I don’t leave the condo I won’t get the steps. It’s that simple. I mean, I can squeeze in an extra 800 or 1000 if I’m short at the end of the day by walking around the place, watering plants, tidying up, that sort of thing. But 13000? Not likely.

Beetle Cat restoration. After.

Beetle Cat restoration. After.

Newport is also a great place to run. I went for a leisurely 10K out to Fort Adams, a state park area on a peninsula across form the town on the other side of the bay that forms the harbor, and then back into town, mostly along the water. That secured me over 12000 steps first thing in the morning so put me well on my way to exceeding my daily quota again by the end of the day.

Newport's main harbor.

Newport’s main harbor.

And I do similar things to keep active wherever the boat may be. Yoga, swimming, kayaking and amazing walks on the beach in the Bahamas. Walking /’d running in Annapolis. Hiking when we are up in the North Channel.

But longer passages will need some tweaking. Resistance training and yoga might be good alternatives. And here we might be at one of the limitations of counting steps as a way to fitness. I wore my step counter to a yoga class recently and it hardly recorded anything even though class demanded a lot of me that day. And I get more steps walking to personal training than being at the training even though the workout is way more taxing than the walk. So even though sailing is a big fail when it comes to steps, there are things I can do. Not only that, sailing challenges the body in its own way too. You work on balance, for example. And you’ve got winches to turn and lines to haul. So there’s that.

But it’s also okay to take a time out. A missed few days doesn’t have to translate into a big disaster.

So there it is. Sailing is a non-activity activity if you only count steps. And it’s not the only one.

About Tracy I

Writer, feminist, vegan, triathlete, sailor, philosopher, sometimes knitter.

2 thoughts on “Sailing: A non-activity activity 

  1. DPNews says:

    Great article!

    Like

  2. Stephanie says:

    We sail a little 23′ sonic, and I often think about this. Am I working on the boat? Am I working out on the boat? I have the same results you do, which is that my steps don’t tell the story of how tired I am. Hoisting sails, tacking, jibing, clinging to the mast as I reef the main… not to mention how criminally exhausting it is to cower on the bow, pulling down the genny, stuffing it below and pulling up the working jib, all while clinging to lifelines and bracing against another wave while trying not to be tossed around. I swear, those moments of terror should be worth a thousand steps. On the other hand, knitting in the sunshine, out on a long starboard tack? Yeah. No steps.

    Like

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