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The Logbook

The Aging Sailor

By The Skipper:

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?

Chuck inside Lealea

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. 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.

Obviously, things like pulling up a hundred pounds of anchor and chain without a windlass, hauling myself up the mast in a bosun's chair or leaping from the foredeck to the dock in bare feet are no longer in the repertoire.  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.

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. 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.  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 from thirty years ago, 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. You are not thirty seven anymore. Beer can no longer be an every day thing; not even a once a week thing for me. If you have 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. 

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.  It is just too easy to buy and consume the finished product of the food industry (Note to self: Don't preach) and 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.  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?"

Numerous studies have shown that eliminating all forms of refined sugar and alcohol and maintaining a proper Ph balance in the body cures or relieves the symptoms of just about everything and boosts the immune system to better ward off contagious diseases and infections. 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.

Active cruisers 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 story for a backpack full of fresh natural food is all it takes but the more the better.

No matter what your personal image of cruising into retirement might be, the tall cold brightly colored, sugary drink, heavily laced with rum and garnished with a miniature parasol or the ice bucket full of bottled beer should probably not be a regular part of the picture. For me, the cheeseburgers and beers will have to be few and far between in paradise.  But there are plenty of apples and berries in the Northwest; and plenty of mangoes, bananas and papaya in the tropics.

Chuck Rose
S/V Lealea

4 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Wildblueflyer | July 23, 2016 at 09:33 PM EDT

On the plus side, you didn't mention your hearing...a career as 13Z hasn't affected your ears SarMajor!

2. Chuck Rose | July 29, 2016 at 01:53 AM EDT

Last year the VA finally gave me hearing aids. It's a whole new world.

3. Wm Roberson | August 01, 2016 at 09:35 PM EDT

I am reminded of and old saying....\oh to have back the body I hated so much when I was 30 or even 40 or 50\

4. Daniel | September 12, 2016 at 09:56 AM EDT

\Old age is not for sissies\... SO true!

I still have at least a year and a half before I can retire from the military. But it sure has beat my body down. Different perspective on things when you can feel all the joints from the neck down, but I'm not going to let that slow me down. I still intend to go sailing whenever I can and I will enjoy every bit of it.

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"Jim's book is thoroughly, entertaining and honest and for us to be included is an honor. 

If you dream of sailing off into the sunset after you retire we suggest "Sailing into Retirement" is a must read."

Chuck and Laura

Fellow shipmate, Fran Taylor, writes about her many adventures as crew sailing aboard different tall ships and she mentions one voyage in particular  during her time aboard HMB Endeavour where she meets a couple on their honeymoon.  Read the humorous tale of the seasick groom and how a new "private signal" was born among the Endeavour crew.
The first book I read after moving aboard Lealea.  A wonderful journey that got me dreaming.
Looking for a read that will make your stomach hurt from laughing?  This one did it for us!  A definite page turner.
-Chuck and Laura

"This Old Boat" If you can only have one book on sailboat maintenance aboard, this is the one.

-Chuck Rose

"This old boat" If you can only have one book on sailboat maintenance, this is the one.
Chuck and Laura

“The Ashley Book of Knots” by Clifford W. Ashley is, quite simply, the definitive work on knots.  We think if you have more than a passing interest in marlinspike seamanship or decorative knotting this book is pretty much a “Must Have” This book is a high mass volume. 
                       -Chuck and Laura
Fran Taylor was born and grew up in Scotland on the banks of the River Clyde.  She has sailed all over the world in a number of “Tall Ships” and has had a number of articles published. She is a regular on the guest  speaking circuit around Perth where she lives when not pursuing her dreams and answering the call of the sea. In 2012 she took part in the Titanic Memorial Cruise, a special event to commemorate the 100th
anniversary of the sinking. This book tells that story.
The story of Margo Wood and her husband Charles who began the "Charlie's Charts" cruising guide series. When her husband passed away she began to sail as a singlehander.   A wonderful story about a lady I admire a lot. - Laura  
An excellent read for anyone interested in single handed sailing. An inspiration for women. Anne had quite an adventure and this book is especially interesting to Albin Vega owners.- Chuck
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