Posted: July 1, 2014
Preparation is key for staying fit while cruising.Knowing your health, welfare and other needs — and that of all passengers on board — is very important. If some passengers have disabilities that restrict their ability to get on and off the boat, you need to know it. You can, without any embarrassment to them, take some extra measures. Tie up so that the step on or off is as easy as possible. Have good ladders to help where necessary. Always be there with a hand. While underway, take care to help with drinks and food, and getting to and from the head. Change speeds to allow for the least rocking and rolling. The same holds true for getting off the boat. Portable, folding wheelchairs are not that big. Make sure a guest is not embarrassed to bring one.
Many people have atrial fibrillation and need to check their INR. You can find small units that check INR on the boat — we bought one for $1,500 when I was on Coumadin — and many larger ports have clinics where INR can be checked.
We also carry an automated external defibrillator (AED), a device used to shock a person’s heart back into a normal rhythm during a heart attack. It can save a life until you can get help in port or from a Coast Guard evacuation helicopter. In any case, someone should know how to do CPR, if possible. The importance of this, of course, is contingent on the age and health of the passengers.
There are many medical kits available in boating stores. Get a good one, or make up your own. Last, but not least, have correctly sized lifejackets for everyone on board. There are regulations on this, and I strongly suggest you make certain to have a properly sized life jacket for all passengers — not just because of the regulations, but to be safe and a good skipper. The safety of all passengers is the responsibility of the skipper.