Taking on an adventure like sailing can become challenging for people with arthritis. Often, people live their 20’s and 30’s working hard towards achieving their career goals and retirement. When they hit the forties, they hope to take on new challenges and experience things they have always been determined to do. But, arthritis is an issue that crops up in most people after the age of ’40s.
Sailing or boating is a great outdoor activity that will help you maintain an active lifestyle. You’ll be amazed at how water activities have the potential to keep your body and mind healthy. If sailing is an adventure that you have always wanted to try, let arthritis not stop you from taking on this new escapade. With minor adaptations and goal adjustments, you are fully set to experience the best of sailing.
Understanding rheumatoid arthritis
This inflammatory disease is the most common autoimmune arthritis. When your immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake, it can cause inflammation, swelling, and pain in joints. As a progressive disease, rheumatoid arthritis can get worse over time. If not treated well, it can even lead to serious complications including damage to the joints and organs.
Sailing with arthritis
Sailing with arthritis is not going to be easy unless you make finer changes to your journey. For instance, if you have mild arthritis, you should be able to comfortably step in and out of smaller boats. Although, it’s not a recommended approach for people with severe arthritis as it can be taxing on the joints. Don’t let arthritis stress you out, here are some tips for you to consider.
- Accessibility and turbulence are two major factors to think of when considering sailing with arthritis. Pontoon style boats are considered to highly accessible for those who have major concerns with arthritis. This boat straddles long supporting floats, with the floor of the boat rising above the water. Since the floor is leveled with the dock, you don’t have to climb a ladder and strain your joints, some even are wheelchair accessible. Another key factor is that Pontoon boats are extremely stable in water with minimal turbulence.
- If you require more assistance, there are adaptive equipment for sailing available. Always consult with your local marina or research to find out what equipment can help you make this journey a smooth sail.
- Finally and most importantly, always consult your doctor before getting on with the sailing adventure. If you feel unsafe or unstable, we highly recommend you avoid sailing.
An inspiring story | Cruising with Rheumatoid Arthritis
Willingness and mental strength can help you overcome every challenge. This inspiring adventure of Tami Florer and her husband is sure to get you thinking. Before Tami met her soul mate at Portland Yacht Club, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. They bonded over their common love for sailing and set out on adventures together. They made a lifetime investment on Beneteau 40 to go cruising as much as her health issue allowed her to.
Tami was determined to find a solution for her rheumatoid arthritis, and she met with specialists. Although rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t have a cure, there was a short period of remission. And, she took it as an opportunity window to depart on new sailing adventures. In 2014, they departed over the Columbia River bar and arrived in Victoria a few days later. Based on her medical specialist’s recommendation, she used a scopolamine patch for her leg during the trip. After a short stopover in Victoria, they pursued their journey into Alaska and back to Puget Sound.
As the journey became more intense, slowly things started changing for Tami. In October, as she arrived in Santa Barbara, exhaustion took over. She woke up the next morning to extreme inflammation and pain due to arthritis. Luckily, she was equipped with non-inflammation medication that was prescribed by her specialist. This minor setback, she had to get to the nearest hospital for administered medication. Once Tami fully recovered from pain and inflammation, she was adamant to get back on the sailing journey. Tami and her husband decided to pursue their sailing dreams back again.
After her arrival back in Victoria, they discovered an infusion hospital in Seattle. She continued her medication and explored Victoria for a little over a month. They strategized their journey around her health issue and was able to accomplish their sail to Juneau, Sitka, and back to Ketchikan.
Her medication has now changed into a daily pill. If you ask Tami, she would not trade her sailing experiences for anything and is thankful for every moment that it has given her. If her experience has taught aspiring sailors with arthritis something, it is to be always prepared with medication, research infusion centers, stay connected with your specialists and strategize your trip effectively.
Cruising with rheumatoid arthritis is not possible with some research and planning to back your journey up. Don’t let a medical condition drag you away from your dreams of sailing.