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ephman 03-03-2008 01:46 PM

Senior Boaters
As you can tell from my picture, I am not a “thirtysomething.” I am making the transition to “retirement.” Today retirement means different things to different people including work, leisure, and travel. With the longer life expectancy many will have the opportunity to do what they like to do longer, and that includes boating. I would like to hear about how “senior” boaters are adjusting, what new products should boating manufacturers be considering to help aging boaters, what can be done to make boating safer for older boaters, and what plans do baby boomer have for continuing their life on the water.

chucklesR 03-03-2008 02:36 PM

As you can tell from my avatar photo I'm almost 50, so I don't qualify as senior chronologically.
I do qualify from a medical point of view as rather aged, and not well aged. So I'll stick to that line.

The portable defibulator is a wonderful idea and putting it on the civilian market has opened the world to guys like me - watertight storage is a must.

Prescription medicine delivery services is something would be nice to see offered to boaters. Water tight storage built into the head for drugs is a must. Drugs must be in one central, easy to find place - and the head is what we would use at home.

Powered winches that don't cost a arm and a leg; I understand volume sales can drive the price down - but 5k for a 1.5k winch with a 1k windlass motor is really just socking it to the boaters. How many sailors go to the dark side of trawlers or quit altogether because they can no longer sheet a sail or raise the main?

Boat interiors that are more friendly to old knees - I think my Gemini is a good model for that, real steps/stairs at angles that are normal and 'intuitive'.

Berths listed as a sea berth should have manufactured (not jury rigged owner installed) straps and not require a leap to get in and get out of.

For a monohull - asking my step mother to use a handrail at 30 degrees heel discounts the fact she can't open a pickle jar, yet alone hold 30% of her weight in one hand.

Good luck with both your writing and your retirement. Hope I see you 'out there' for many years to come.

Sailormon6 03-03-2008 04:39 PM

I don't know if I can tell you what you want to know, but I'll tell you what I did. Before retiring, I paid all my debts, including my house and all but one car. I have a steady, reasonably comfortable retirement income and health insurance. My son is still in college, but I have enough savings to pay his tuition and fees. He's working to pay his own room and board. My boat isn't new, but it's nice and it's paid for. In short, while I'm not flush with money, I'm comfortable and financially independent. That's important, because any financial limitations limit your options, and your ability to absorb unexpected problems.

I keep my boat on the Chesapeake, live aboard it during the summer, and was new to the area, so I didn't know anyone at first. I began looking for opportunities to crew on other peoples' boats in Wednesday evening and weekend races, and now have a lot of friends in the area, and ample opportunities to socialize.

I have all my mail forwarded during the summer to my Maryland PO Box, and virtually all of my regularly recurring bills are paid electronically. I have a cellphone, so I can be contacted during the summer, in the event of a family emergency.

When you first move to a good sized boat, you'll have to learn a little seamanship, to get the boat in and out of its slip. If you singlehand a lot, that will make it more difficult, but you can learn to do it with practice.

The biggest concern I have is that, as you age, your leg strength begins to fade, as well as your balance. You can reduce that with exercise, but you really need to start using jacklines and safety harnesses when you leave the cockpit, even in calm seas, because one misstep can leave you treading water, watching the boat sail on without you.

I occasionally have old friends and relatives visit me for a few days and stay on the boat, and have found retirement to be as fun and as satisfying as I had hoped. My only regret is that, so far, I have had to spend the winter living in a house, but, now that I have most of the repairs and upgrades done on the boat, perhaps I'll take the boat south for the winter.

Freesail99 03-03-2008 04:56 PM

ephman, 5 post and your a moderator. How did you pull that off ?

CaptKermie 03-03-2008 05:31 PM

You are right retirement does mean different things to different people, some think their current line of work is retirement.
I am a typical baby boomer @ 54 with just a year remaining before I am eligible for retirement. I plan to sail until my health gives out, maybe 70 or so depending on my legs and how seaworthy they are. Five years ago I was more fit than those half my age but a couple blood clots have me re-evaluating myself. I am still very robust for 54 and still have most of my body building effects intact just need to get back into it to regain the strength. I am almost finnished getting my boat set up for single handed sailing and feel that is the most important aspect for retired sailing. I find it too inconvenient trying to round up any crew and my wife will work a few more years than me then join me, but even then I cannot expect her to go every time I do. So consider that you may require a solo sailing set up. (lines aft, auto pilot, roller furler, lay jacks etc.) As we age getting in and out of the boat becomes an issue, it already is for my wife with her short legs, so be sure you have a solid ladder or easy boarding system. Once on board things are easier, at least in my experience, as long as I don't have to go forward to hoist the sails, the anchor is the exception. Boats are also high maintenance both physically and financially make sure you stay fit in both areas. Weather also has a huge impact, I am in the Pacific Northwest and sailing season is realistically 6 months max, a few die hards will disagree but I have had enough of the elements to last a lifetime so fair weather sailing it is. If you are in a warmer southern clime it is a non issue.
As far as the industry is concerned they should strive to keep it affordable or risk losing business, once we retire our incomes are not the same and the toy boat will be the first to go when things get tight. that's all I can add for now but others will have more to say.

tjaldur 03-03-2008 07:29 PM

I am now 66 and plan to sail from Norway to the Caribbeans this summer, as I just retired last month. Maintaining the machine seems to be a rejuvenating process, as the space is really small and I must work in all kinds of positions.

Since i live in the ship I no longer have a car, thus I walk to any destinations. In the summertime my ship is moored an I must row the dinghy ashore. Walking and rowing is indeed very good for the health.

The only investments I have made in order to be prepared for later times is a windlass with both a cabelar for chain and for rope. In case I some time in the future will need it haul the mainsail. Anyway I use it now to haul my son to the top of the mast to do the maintenance there.

LynW 03-03-2008 08:11 PM

Err, yeah, none of us is getting younger. I'd say

(a) Install a top quality electric anchor windlass;
(b) Cut down (a bit) on those late-night boozing sessions with crew-members half your age;
(c) Get as much in as you can right now because health events happen and they play havoc with your dreams.

tjaldur 03-03-2008 08:21 PM


Originally Posted by LynW (Post 275909)
Err, yeah, none of us is getting younger. I'd say

(a) Install a top quality electric anchor windlass;
(b) Cut down (a bit) on those late-night boozing sessions with crew-members half your age;
(c) Get as much in as you can right now because health events happen and they play havoc with your dreams.

Good advices, concerning c) it may be too late in my case. My last dream was about the spherical triangle.

kaneb 03-04-2008 03:52 PM

Help others enjoy boating
Okay, you successful business men and women who are entering retirement lets make a deal. Many of us can't afford a sailboat let alone charter one for a week yet we love to sail. Sailing interests have dropped. Many kids are not introduced to sailing and never have the opportunity to get involved.

When I was in college several times during the summer, I would get im my car early in the morning and travel to the eastern shore arriving at a marina, find a boat that the owner was working on and picked up a conversation. Soon I was sanding and painting the bottoms of many boats, finishing the teak and cleaning the cabins. For this, I not only found new friends but they were nice enough to invite me on weekend sailing cruises.

It would be great to promote these opportunities almost like The benefit to a boat owner, well they get help on the many different maintenance tasks and the boatless person they get to sail. The tirhg mix of personalities is required but I never had the problem.

RickBowman 03-05-2008 08:44 AM

Assuming that one doesn't have the need or desire to work at gainful employment, there are excellent volunteering oppurtunities on the water. United States Sail and Power Squadrons are one of them. The Coast Guard Auxillary is another. Some tall ships offer free crewing /sailing. None of these orgs. listed requires vessel ownership, only the love of the water and the desire to help other boaters.

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