Top 10 Ways To Stay In Shape On A Sailing Trip

Via on Jan 19, 2010

I recently returned from a sailing trip down the Southern Pacific Coast of Baja with my friends.

Sailboats in Magdalena Bay in Baja, Mexico.
Sailboats in Magdalena Bay in Baja, Mexico.

It’s hard to find extra space on a 30-foot sailboat with five people on board, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your morning run or skimp on healthy, delicious food. If you’re a little creative and have the motivation, it’s actually quite easy to eat well and stay active even in tight quarters. Below are the top 10 ways we found to stay in shape on a sailing trip.

Tree pose on Belcher's Cove in Magdalena Bay in southern Baja, Mexico.
Tree pose on Belcher’s Cove in Magdalena Bay in southern Baja, Mexico.

1.    Practice Yoga — If you have enough room to lounge in the sun, you have enough room to practice yoga. Space onboard was pretty tight, but I made do with an awesome standing and sitting practice on the bow. When sailing this gets a bit tough because you’re rocking and rolling with the waves, but I just added a hold to the front jib sail to stabilize my standing poses. A few of my favorites: Dancer, Triangle and Warrior Two.

When you’re anchored… Hit the beach. With a mat, beach towel or the willingness to get a bit sandy, you can fit in a full practice. Add warm sand, sun and the methodic crash of the waves, and you’ve got a perfect place to bring peace to your mind and body.

2.    Meditate — What better place to find some inner calm, than perched on the bow of a sailboat? Take some time every day to hunker down with yourself, let the sun warm your face and breathe in that salty sea air. Be fully present, feel the waves moving under the boat and connect to the awesome energy all around you.

3.    Hit the trail — When you’re anchored, a quick dinghy ride or paddle to shore gives you a lot of freedom. Running on the beach is always amazing, but channel your adventurous side and head out in search of the paths less traveled. We were lucky enough to find several trails on Santa Maria Island and spent a few days scrambling up the mountains and running along the cliff-side trail overlooking Magdalena Bay.

4.    Walk on the beach — On one of our hikes, we caught site of a gorgeous, secluded beach below us. We slid down a steep trail and spent the entire day wandering along the beach looking for treasures, exploring tide pools and hopping waves. After rocking your sea legs on the boat for a few days, walking on the beach is a pretty perfect way to stretch your legs and spend a day on dry land.

5.    Go for a swim — Whether it’s from the beach, or a dive from your boat, make sure to fit in a swim! When you’re on a sailboat, the ocean becomes your playground. Swim along the shore, splash in the waves, or grab your snorkel mask and explore the exciting world under the sea.

Paddling out to the surf break.
Paddling out to the surf break.

6.    Sea kayak — Paddling gives you access to many secluded island spots. We often dropped our kayak into the water for a quick paddle to shore, or in search of a new beach, or cove. On a sailboat you spend so much of your time being powered by the wind, but when you’re in a kayak, it’s up to you to provide the power and it’s a nice change of pace after a few days of sailing. If you don’t have a kayak on board, ask around and I guarantee you can find one to rent for a day trip.

7.    Find some waves — For my friend, a surfboard is an absolute necessity on a sailing trip. While the big surf is further north on the Baja Peninsula this time of year, we managed to find plenty of waves to ride. Surfing is an excellent way to stay active and feel the power of the ocean. We also took the kayak out to catch some waves.

Taking down the sail on the way to Cabo San Lucas.
Taking down the sail on the way to Cabo San Lucas.

8.    Sail — Just straight up sailing is active. Sure there’s plenty of down time, but putting up the sails and taking them down can keep you busy — especially when you’re trying to find the right wind.

Fishermen coming into Man O' War Cove with their catch of the day.
Fishermen coming into Man O' War Cove with their catch of the day.

9.    Eat local — To fuel all of this activity, make sure to stock up on delicious local food. It’s easy to drop a line in the water to catch fresh fish for dinner, or chat it up with the locals to find a yummy catch of the day. One evening, after a successful day fishing, my friends made Bonito fish kabobs with pineapple and lime.

Being a vegetarian, I couldn’t get my fill of avocados, tomatoes and fresh pineapple! Each time we went into town to resupply, I would come out of the tienda with my arms full of fresh, local produce and warm, corn tortillas. I also found the best veggie tacos I have ever eaten in a little town outside of San Jose Del Cabo, so when in Baja, make sure to visit your local taqueria regularly.

10.    Make your own food — While we savored many, many tacos on dry land, we made some of our most delicious meals on the boat. For breakfast, we ate everything from banana pancakes with honey to Huevos Rancheros — always with a cup of coffee or tea. When sailing, we’d keep it simple with homemade granola, yogurt and fresh fruit. And we had a constant pot of beans and rice on the stove, as well as fresh salsa, avocados and fruit. We also got creative with spices and chilis to cook up curries and lentil dahl.

And why stop at cooking? If you’re feeling up to it, grow your own herbs and vegetables on board. We met a sweet couple from Vancouver, BC who had a thriving herb and lettuce garden. Also, no need to buy salt when you’re swimming in it! Set a shallow pan of salt water in the sun and you’ll have sea salt by dinnertime, we also experimented with cooking beans and rice in a bit of salt water. Turned out delicious!

Sailing is an amazing way to travel and with lots of beach yoga, mountain trail runs and delicious food — it’s an experience that’s pretty hard to beat. However you decide to spend your sailing trip, make sure to respect the ocean, and the other awesome wild places, animals and people that you connect with on your adventure. And most of all, be fully present — and have fun!

About Emily Nuchols

An eco warrior obsessed with traveling and promoting conservation, Emily is the co-founder of Under Solen Media and the team's go-to girl for everything non-profit and environment related. Armed with a B.A in Environmental Journalism from Western Washington University, she has spent the last few years on the frontlines of conservation efforts, working to save Pacific Northwest wild salmon and restore flee-flowing rivers. When she’s not talking or writing about the environment, she’s out exploring it, and is known to seek out places where she can get in a good morning yoga session or trail run.


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4 Responses to “Top 10 Ways To Stay In Shape On A Sailing Trip”

  1. What an enjoyable article. I almost didn't open it because I don't go on sailing trips.

    But I'm so glad I did. Thanks.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. Peggy says:

    I do go on sailing trips and loved this. Thank you. I will post it for folks coming to Amalfi and the Aolean islands this spring.

  3. I love these tips! Even better was the imagery of doing these things on a sailboat adventure! I've got something new for my vision board! :)

    - Jeffrey

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