When you stop to think about it, boating is a form of exercise that requires both strength and flexibility. On any given day you might be sailing, swimming, rowing, waterskiing, surfing, climbing into the boat, balancing your body while cruising through rough seas, or using your back to pull in the big fish that didn’t get away. All of these activities require upper body, core, and leg strength at different times applied in different ways. Sometimes these tasks might be easy, but at other times you may need to exert a large amount of energy. Also, let’s bear in mind that keeping fit becomes more of a challenge as we get older. Personally, I choose to stay in shape using an aggressive weight lifting routine coupled with an aerobic stationary bike program on alternate days. I then take one day off to rest. However, I realize that not everyone chooses these options. My point here is that there is little doubt that keeping your body ship-shape is a key contributor to maximizing a boater’s overall health, safety and enjoyment.
Alcohol, Drugs and Caffeine … Alcohol, drug use and excessive caffeine do not mix with safe boating protocols. Alcohol … is well-recognized as a powerful depressant that seriously impairs a person’s judgment, reflexes, muscular control, stability, and reaction times. Alcohol also causes irritability, drowsiness, and sea sickness. Prescription drugs, while necessary, have a latent ability to suddenly affect a passenger’s performance as well. If you are using Prescription or Recreational Drugs … it is a good practice to let the skipper know that you may have an adverse reaction and identify mitigating actions that can be taken if the unexpected occurs. Caffeine … in large quantities caffeine causes nervousness, headaches, dizziness, and a compromised ability to concentrate.
Excessive Fatigue … Fatigue has a significant impact on all passengers’ fitness while underway. Boater fatigue can result in a loss of concentration that leads to corresponding errors in judgment. For example, unnecessary risks could be accepted because safety precautions have been overlooked. Other examples of fatigue induced risks are eye strain, difficulty maintaining balance, increased personal stress, exposure to droning engine noise, daylong exposure to sunlight, a lack of sleep, and the monotony of a long cruise. The ship’s skipper must remain aware of and keep a sharp lookout for signs of passenger fatigue. Measures that help reduce fatigue include: getting adequate rest before starting the day’s activities, wearing the appropriate clothes for the prevailing weather conditions, providing passengers with food and refreshments, and observing crew members and passengers for signs of fatigue.
Sea Sickness … Sometimes called motion sickness, sea sickness is caused when the middle ear’s sensitivity to motion becomes imbalanced with the eye’s perception of rolling motions. This imbalance is accentuated in enclosed areas, or while reading. On land this phenomena is called car sickness. In both cases the result is nausea and vomiting. Additional symptoms include increased salivation, unusual paleness, sweating, drowsiness, weakness, and stomach discomfort. Besides taking medications recommended by your physician, you can manage your susceptibility to sea sickness by avoiding confined spaces inside the boat, getting into the fresh air, and looking at the horizon. Also, avoid drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, cigars, and vaping tobacco while in rolling sea conditions.
Toxic Fumes … The most common cause of toxic fumes encountered on a boat is Carbon Monoxide. It is a lethal, odorless, and colorless gas that is emitted by internal combustion engines. Common symptoms of toxic fume poisoning may include: headache, dizziness, throbbing temples, itchy and watery eyes, headache, and reddened skin. Early signs that a person has been exposed to poisonous gases are that his or her judgment and decision-making ability has been compromised. If you believe that a conscious passenger was subjected to toxic gas get them out of their environment and into fresh air immediately. If practical, hold your breath before entering the impacted area. If the victim seems to be unconscious you can check by calling-out to him or her. If they do not response call for help and wait for to it arrive. Statistics show that far too many people become victims themselves by rushing in alone.
Loud Noises … Loud and perpetual droning noises can affect a person’s ability to perform in an efficient and effective manner. To moderate this negative impacts of noise, the skipper can make ongoing minor changes to engine speed, The skipper can also adjust away irritating radio static. As an option, single ear hearing protection can be used whenever moderate noise is a factor, then it can be followed up by using double ear protection as needed.