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Boat fitness

How fit do you need to be to go boating?

Boat enthusiasts come in all shapes in sizes and at all levels of physical fitness. What's important is that they're fit for the conditions they're likely to meet. There's a world of difference between the conditions a canal boat crew is likely to meet on a weekend cruise and the conditions likely to be met by the crew taking their boat across the Bay of Biscay on way to sunnier climes.

The first will have to be fit enough to get off the boat in sometimes less than ideal conditions prior to a lock, open the gates with an antiquated winding system and then, having moved through the lock, close the gates. This process may well be repeated several times a day. Tiring for sure. The upside is that if the weather is inclement then the nearest safe haven is only a few meters away and one can drive mooring pins into the canal bank, put the kettle on and sit it out. Great stuff, especially if the pub is nearby as well.

Our crew crossing Biscay may well set full sail on a sailboat or 2500 rpm on a twin engine motor yacht and do nothing more than check the horizon regularly and get into their bunks when offwatch. Those conditions could last until it's time to hand all sail and put the boat into the visitors berth. But then again, weather conditions may overtake them and they'll be fighting with wildly flogging sails, or an engine problem, on top of 10 meter high waves, in 40 or more knots of wind. In these conditions your fitness level is important and a lack of fitness could be dangerous.

You're likely to be somewhere between these extremes so what's best for you? Aim to be able to manage your boat without help if necessary. That assumes fitness in terms of physical fitness and also boating competence. If you're skipper then work on the basis that you'll be the 'last man standing', working on your own in other words.

The best way to achieve ultimate boating fitness is to go boating regularly, now that shouldn't be too much of a hassle should it?

Useful information: boat safety - boat fitness - RYA courses in Mediterranean