Living At Anchor Is Like Having A Free Gym

I know a few cruisers out there who are hardcore fitness freaks who will disagree with me on this. But living at anchor is like having a free gym, as long as you follow a few simple rules.

Dahon Mariner D7 Folding Bike

No Outboard On The Dinghy

By not having an outboard on my dinghy I have to row everywhere. Rowing an empty boat in calm conditions becomes pretty easy after you’ve done it for a while.

I frequently have guests aboard, though. The added weight of a second person, not to mention their bags, makes rowing much harder. Add to that occasionally rowing against wind and/or wave in it least one direction, and it can become a real challenge.

Even when it’s just me and Sparky aboard, I do have to haul water every few days. Also on laundry days and days that we do a big grocery run, there’s a little more in the dinghy, making it more of a challenge to row.

I’m not saying this is a really intense workout, like P90X, which by the way is a great workout for on a boat. But you are getting some moderate exercise, as long as you follow my next rule.

Don’t Anchor So Close!

If you have to row to get to shore, of course, anchoring in close is going to be a lot more convenient. A short row, even in rougher conditions, isn’t going to be much of a workout, though.

rowing dinghy
Our Walker Bay rowing dinghy

I’m anchored further from shore than all of the other boats around here now, almost 1/2 mile out. With a second person in the dinghy and even just a moderate breeze, it takes me about 20 minutes to row in, and it’s not an easy row.

No Car

I don’t have a car anymore. Well, most cruisers don’t, but I guess this one applies more to live aboards. Most places that I go I have to pedal to on my bike.

Commuting by bike is already a great way to get some exercise every day. Of course living on a boat my bike is a small folding bike, the Dahon Mariner.

The smaller wheels on a folding bike add to the workout a little. You have to pedal a little more to go the same distance as you would on a full size bike.

Stepping It Up

As I said, this isn’t a really intense workout, but there is a little trick that’s out of my control that helps step it up a few notches. Getting called in to work for a last minute tour! And another trick that is in my control. Procrastinating when I know I have to be in work for a tour.

When this happens, I have to sprint in the kayak, or row the dinghy as hard as I can, to bring Sparky in for a short walk. Then I race him back to the boat, and immediately turn around, sprint back to shore, and pedal my ass off to get to work on time.

That gives me about about a 35 minute workout that’s much more intense. I know even that isn’t going to meet Zero To Cruising standards for a real workout, but I have had to start wearing a belt on my shorts since moving back to the Keys.

2 Responses to Living At Anchor Is Like Having A Free Gym

  1. Hi Chris,

    Yeah you have to search for doing some exercises 😉
    But as long as you don’t have any car it shouldn’t be a problem to stay fit as you are biking all the time.
    I do love your advices as they are very simple and easy to realize. You just need to do it.

    How many miles do go by bike within a week? Is the bike you have mentioned above designed for longer biking tours too?


    • That’s right Manuel. Sometimes having a car can make us really lazy. Most people get so used to the convenience that they’ll usually take the car, even if it’s just a short distance. I don’t do a lot of mile, but it’s about 5 miles round trip to work, and about the same in the other direction when I have to go on shopping runs, pick up my mail, etc.

      It’s not really meant for longer distances. You’d be much more comfortable on a full size bike. but these bikes are popular in some larger cities where people commute by bike, and have limited storage space in their small apartments. I did see someone riding a similar model in the Five Boro Bike Tour a few years back. That’s a 40 mile ride and there are some pretty big hills in a few spots.


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