The ‘Sailing Doctor’ returns to our blog! This week Dr. Jean-Yves Chauve gives us advice on what type of food to eat while sailing.
You may have already heard of Dr. Chauve as he is well-known for specializing in providing remote medical assistance to sailors and boat racers. He has been involved in several high-profile cases in which he aided racers via telephone to avoid dangerous health situations.
When at sea, we use a lot of energy. The constant motion of the boat, the wind and maneuvering a sailboat may require nearly 5,000 calories in 24 hours.
To compensate for these losses it is very important to eat enough . This is not always easy especially when you are feeling seasick, or when weather conditions make it impossible to cook.
However, freeze-dried meals such as those eaten by offshore racers will make it easier to eat hot food. Just boil water in a kettle, pour the hot water into the bag and wait a few minutes for the food to re-hydrate.
Food for Short Trips
Sandwiches provide a good amount of energy and are well-balanced.
Food for Longer Trips
When each sailor takes it in turn to navigate, it is best to eat at the end of your shift before going to bed.
Calories used for digestion are also included in the amount of energy needed each day and eating at the end of the day will make food energy available to the muscles when you wake.
What to Avoid
Avoid eating simple sugars such candy bars, as much as possible. Contrary to advertising, they rather promote sleep and can actually make you feel drowsy.
Last but not Least…
Finally, remember that you should drink water regularly throughout the day. With the wind and sun, dehydration can creep up on you unexpectedly and affect the physical and mental abilities.
Read more of Dr. Chauve’s sailing advice in these two previous blog posts:
Dr. Chauve is a doctor who specialises in providing remote medical assistance to sailors and boat racers. He was involved in several high-profile cases in which he aided racers via telephone to avoid dangerous health situations.
A doctor’s advice about sleeping onboard
Offshore racers know this from experience: Sleep is a necessity to maintain vigilance. It is imperative for assuring good security and your own physical performance. Tests have proven that after 16 hours without sleep, your level of drowsiness is equivalent to a BAC of 0.5 g. This means that your level of concentration is substantially impaired.
It is therefore very important to have regular periods of sleep when navigating. To sleep effectively, you must be aware that throughout the day, there are times when one is predisposed to sleep. Yawning is a sign that the body sends to indicate that it is ready to sleep. This is the moment when you should try to sleep or take a nap.
How Long should I Sleep?
Sleep duration depends on the constraints of navigation. The ideal length would be to sleep for one a complete sleep cycle, which is from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Otherwise, it can be useful to take short naps for 20 to 30 minutes. Napping regularly can be very effective for a few days. If napping is not possible, then there is the final option of “flash” naps, consisiting of just a few seconds of sleep.
When “real” sleep is impossible, this brief disconnection can allow the brain to de-stress, which is very important when engaging in such a physically demanding activity as navigating.
No matter what, make it a priority to get at least some sleep while onboard. Otherwise your judgement and physical ability will be significantly impaired.