Four Tips to Manage Fatigue While Sailing Offshore

29 Jul 2019

Four Tips to Manage Fatigue While Sailing Offshore

Dubai Boat Show
When sailing offshore, taking care of your boat is as important as taking care of yourself.

Ask any offshore sailor and they’re likely to have a story or two about how they fell asleep at the wrong moment or got exhausted to the point of having hallucinations. They will also tell you that it’s not worth the risk. After all, what’s the point of putting all the love and care into maintaining your boat if you won’t put the same care into yourself? With that in mind, here’s a few tips for mitigating fatigue during long offshore expeditions.

1. Stay Warm and Dry. This is absolutely vital. Staying dry doesn’t just mean shielding yourself from water, but also from your own sweat. Wearing gear that isn’t properly breathable, especially in strenuous conditions, can cause you to start sweating while locking that sweat in. This runs the risk of dropping your body temperature too low when you stop working and just sit down. It is important to use sailing gear that is both lightweight and breathable. Keeping your body as dry as possible also helps avoid skin infections.

Sailing

2. Sleep little and often. This may not make sense at first, but it can go a long way in maximising productivity on the boat. Going too long without getting sleep is something that can be disastrous in any situation, let alone one as demanding as sailing. When sailing offshore, it can be helpful to grab 10-12 minute naps here and there instead of sleeping in single lengthy chunks every day. You should also sleep with your sailing kit within arm’s reach, in order to be able to quickly deal with emergency situations.

3. Take a Long Sleep. This might seem like a contradiction but it makes perfect sense. While

short periodic naps are a good way to keep yourself going without feeling exhausted, it is important to get a full night’s sleep every few days to allow your body to ‘recharge.’ The problem is that this is highly contingent on whether or not the ocean and the weather are on your side. It’s important to make sure conditions will be stable for a while, and try to get a longer sleep anywhere between one to two hours. During this time, you can take off your sailing gear and get comfortable, too. It’s always a good idea to set an alarm to make sure you don’t overshoot your sleep window.

4. Avoid Coffee. This one might also strike you as odd, but it’s actually a really important one. While caffeinating yourself can be good in the short-term, every stimulant has its after effects. There is a crash at the end of every caffeine rush, and you do not want that happening while you’re out on the water. The best thing you can do for yourself is to avoid stress, and not try to change your sleep patterns before you cast off. Try getting as much quality sleep as you can while still on land, with normal food intake. It’s important, before you start your journey, to ensure your physical and mental health are as close to perfect as possible.

Ask any offshore sailor and they’re likely to have a story or two about how they fell asleep at the wrong moment or got exhausted to the point of having hallucinations. They will also tell you that it’s not worth the risk. After all, what’s the point of putting all the love and care into maintaining your boat if you won’t put the same care into yourself? With that in mind, here’s a few tips for mitigating fatigue during long offshore expeditions.

1. Stay Warm and Dry. This is absolutely vital. Staying dry doesn’t just mean shielding yourself from water, but also from your own sweat. Wearing gear that isn’t properly breathable, especially in strenuous conditions, can cause you to start sweating while locking that sweat in. This runs the risk of dropping your body temperature too low when you stop working and just sit down. It is important to use sailing gear that is both lightweight and breathable. Keeping your body as dry as possible also helps avoid skin infections.

2. Sleep little and often. This may not make sense at first, but it can go a long way in maximising productivity on the boat. Going too long without getting sleep is something that can be disastrous in any situation, let alone one as demanding as sailing. When sailing offshore, it can be helpful to grab 10-12 minute naps here and there instead of sleeping in single lengthy chunks every day. You should also sleep with your sailing kit within arm’s reach, in order to be able to quickly deal with emergency situations.

3. Take a Long Sleep. This might seem like a contradiction but it makes perfect sense. While

short periodic naps are a good way to keep yourself going without feeling exhausted, it is important to get a full night’s sleep every few days to allow your body to ‘recharge.’ The problem is that this is highly contingent on whether or not the ocean and the weather are on your side. It’s important to make sure conditions will be stable for a while, and try to get a longer sleep anywhere between one to two hours. During this time, you can take off your sailing gear and get comfortable, too. It’s always a good idea to set an alarm to make sure you don’t overshoot your sleep window.

4. Avoid Coffee. This one might also strike you as odd, but it’s actually a really important one. While caffeinating yourself can be good in the short-term, every stimulant has its after effects. There is a crash at the end of every caffeine rush, and you do not want that happening while you’re out on the water. The best thing you can do for yourself is to avoid stress, and not try to change your sleep patterns before you cast off. Try getting as much quality sleep as you can while still on land, with normal food intake. It’s important, before you start your journey, to ensure your physical and mental health are as close to perfect as possible.

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