Jim's book is thorough, entertaining and honest and for us to be included is an honor. If you are getting ready to retire and dream of sailing off in to the sunset we suggest "Sailing into Retirement" 7 ways to Retire on a Boat at 50 with 10 Steps that Will Keep You There Until 80. A new must read.
updated 9/11/16
The Aging Sailor
Old age, per se, they say, is not necessarily a disqualifyer for would be cruisers. Many cruisers we know can be referred to as "Seasoned" sailors. Indeed, in one tropical port I met a gentleman in his eighties who was in the process of sailing around the world single handed. True, he needed a walker, which he lowered from his boat with an expertly set up tackle, to make it to the yacht club bar, but he did make it and regaled the members with his sea stories for a few days before hauling his walker back aboard and sailing off on the next leg of his cruise.

I am 67 this year (2016) so it appears I will not escape aging after all. So what's up with this aging thing anyway?

I have been noticing that things don't work quite as they once did. I have less tolerance for unnecessary discomforts and less patience with fools yet more reticent to start a fist fight. Being reminded daily of the most instructive moments of ones admittedly rather exciting youth is no doubt the genesis of Bette Davis' famous quote: "Old age is not for sissies".  Some days are better than others, but the general trend is not promising.  Nevertheless, we have no choice but to Deal With It.  I take more time now.  I am less likely to take risks, more contemplative and careful.  Whenever possible, I con someone younger into doing the heavy lifting. What I lack in physical strength and agility I make up for with experience, patience and pursuasion techniques I learned while selling used cars in Honolulu.

Seriously though...

When I was younger I could, and did, live on pizza, Big Macs, burritos and beer without suffering any noticable debilitating effects. Youth and an active, outdoor lifestyle helped me shrug off the harmful effects of my eating habits.  Fortunately, by the time I was 35 I had learned the benefits of exercise through experience and observation and was beginning to learn about nutrition from a mentor who was a gym owner and bodybuilder. For the next thirty years I enjoyed the benefits of clean, active living; Kayaking, hiking, trail running, biking, weight training and sailing in Hawaii.  At the age of fifty, in the best shape of my life, I married motorcycle racer, SCUBA diver, marathoner, bicylist and triathlete Laura Wong.  Needless to say, we lived a pretty healthy lifestyle aboard Lealea in the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. We were health conscious, but not health nuts.  We were regulars at the Harbor Pub; at least once a week for Pizza and, for me, two pints of beer. Then we sailed away from all that.

It is even easier to eat clean and get plenty of exercise cruising on a small boat at sea.


"When I'm in port I get what I need;
That American creation on which I feed!

Cheeseburger is paradise medium rare with mustard'd be nice

I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draught beer
Well, good god Almighty which way do I steer."

Too much time in port?  Could be.  Still it is obvious I should have known better than to make occasional treats into a daily habit. Since I turned 65, I have noticed that drinking beer every day, even just one or two, will cause serious, and by that I mean excruciatingly painful, health problems. My enjoyment of a pint or two of IPA four or five times a week was not the only culprit.  As the above quote from Jimmy Buffett indicates, my daily ration of beer was usually accompanied by a cheeseburger or slice of pizza which I consumed while seated at the bar in Kito's Kave talking sports, politics, hunting and fishing with with a handful of out of work deck hands and loggers and the occasional F/V captain looking for crew.  It has its appeal, I know, especially for Jack London or Ernest Hemingway fans; but it is not a long term habit one should cultivate if one aspires to good health and long life.

Once the problem is identified and acknowledged, a remedy can be effected.

I know, and have always known, that a steady diet of beer and cheeseburgers is unhealthy.  Whatthehellwasithinking?

I was thinking that I was being "Moderate". By my own standards, as a lifelong biker and sailor, I was. Two beers a day, I thought.  That's moderate.  Make it one pint of draft.  Sorry Chuckie.  Not good enough.  Not every day. Not anymore. You are not twenty seven anymore. Beer can no longer be an every day thing; not even a once a week thing for me. If you have a heart condition, arthritic joints and are prone to gout you should avoid certain foods. The list begins with beer.  Beer is followed by other forms of alcohol, then shellfish and red meat, especially organ meats. The penalty for ignoring this is chronic severe pain and early death.  Your list may be different, but that's mine.

As luck would have it, beer was the only real sacrifice for me and it has not proven to be a great loss after all.  I would always rather have salmon than steak and I don't much care for any kind of shellfish. I don't have much of a sweet tooth either so cleaning up my diet was just a matter of overcoming the bad habits I had allowed to creep in and avoiding foods I mostly don't care for anyway.

Now, I don't want to go all preachy on you but it is a plain fact that most of us have been poisoning ourselves with too much of a good thing to one extent or another for decades while getting far less exercise than we were designed for. The result is that we are not as healthy as we ought to be. It is just too easy to buy and consume the finished product of the food industry (Note to self: Don't preach). It is too difficult and time consuming, in our busy 21st century lives, to eat only natural unprocessed foods, let alone foods that we pull out of the ground or catch and kill ourselves (Getting lots of healthy exercise in the process). While choosing what to eat may seem a simple thing, it is in truth the most important choice of your life and there are more serious questions than "Would you like fries with that?".  

Exactly what should you be eating?  I'll leave the details for you to learn on your own (We do have a few ideas though LINK TO GALLEY PAGE) but here is the basic concept:

Regular exercise and a diet consisting of fresh, natural, unprocessed foods has been proven to promote general health. It is only good sense preventive maintenance no matter your age or current state of health and well being. Numerous studies have shown that eliminating all forms of refined sugar and alcohol and maintaining a proper Ph balance in the body by consuming mostly plant based foods cures or relieves the symptoms of just about everything and boosts the immune system to better ward off contagious diseases and infections.

Active cruisers are in general a healthy bunch.  We don't have to worry too much about getting plenty of fresh air and exercise.  Just remember that regular exercise is even more important than diet as we age.  When in port, a daily walk or bike ride to the grocery store for a backpack full of fresh natural food is all it takes but the more exercise the better. You will get plenty of exercise just being on a small boat at sea.  Eating a healthy diet can be a challenge at sea but not an insurmountable one. With a little planning plenty of fresh, healthy food can be provided for the crew for even the longest passages and all unhealthy temptations can be eliminated at the departure dock.

For me, old age is, unexpectedly, here to stay.  In the final analysis, I'd rather be sailing, even though for me, the cheeseburgers and beers will have to be few and far between in paradise. Glad I retired simple, small and early.  I highly recommend it.
                                                   by Chuck Rose