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Last evening Rebecca and I, along with our friends on Brilliant, traveled by bus to the cinema to watch the new Jason Bourne movie. Yes, believe it our not, Grenada has a pretty nice, triple-screen theater, and they show some first-run movies. Anyway, while I’m not sure exactly how it came about, one of the topics of conversation while we were seated in the bus was how often people in modern society tend to have their heads down, staring at their smart phones. I will freely admit that I can sometimes be included in this head-down category, even though I do consciously try to avoid making it a habit because I know that it is bad for you. What’s interesting to me is just how different this posture is from what we often have while sailing.

Look up!

From the very first time we raised a mainsail, we were instructed to look up. Keeping your eyes aloft in this case, rather than just pulling on the halyard unaware of what’s going on above you, prevents you from causing damage. If you can see the sail, you can time raising it to keep the battens clear of the lazy jacks, and you can avoid over trimming the halyard, damaging the sail itself and/or the control lines.

Note my head-up posture in this video. Our friends sailed this boat to Patagonia!

When actively sailing, it’s important to at least periodically check the status of the sail trim, looking up at the sail shape and telltale position. And even though you may have had the telltales streaming properly a moment ago, the wind and boat course will change, often necessitating a sheet adjustment. Of course, for many cruisers, if the sails are even remotely trimmed properly, they are happy. Racers look at things completely different though! I remember that while taking part in a fun club race in Trinidad, I somehow ended up being responsible for jib trim. If I took my eyes off the sails for even a second, the Captain would be all over me! 🙂


Keeping my eyes on the telltales while racing in Trinidad. We won our class!


  1. Mike, word has it you’ve been playing Pokemon in the harbor via the dink. 😉

    • Believe it or not, at this moment in time, I have no games on my phone. Maybe I should though! 🙂 I am not as against the Pokemon thing as some people though. While I’ve never actually seen the game, nor do I know how it’s really played, it’s my understanding that people do have to go outside and move around to earn points. That sounds like a pretty good thing to me.

  2. Nice of you to post a daily (almost) epistle so that we all have the opportunity to degrade our posture frequently.
    Helps the chiropractors afford to go sailing and keep looking up tho

    • 😉

      Funny story from this morning: I went to shore to pick up our electrician friend Simon. He wasn’t there when I arrived so I tied up to the dock to wait for him. Seeing a lady on a paddle board go by with a dog on the board, I got out my phone to take a photo of her. The phone had no more memory so I proceeded to delete some video files that were taking up space. After working on it for a couple of moments, I looked up to see Simon sitting on a bench, looking down at his phone. Apparently he didn’t see me there, and so we both sat, 50′ away from one another, staring at our phones, completely oblivious to the fact that the other one was present. 🙂

  3. True about the looking down and it isn’t just to look at phones. As you get older you have to look down the whole time to avoid tripping and falling, which can be serious. Either way you get neck ache.

    What is the meaning of the series of posture diagrams? Looking down puts more load on the neck, of course. But it is hard to believe 60deg produces 60lb of load on the neck, not by any stretch of the imagination. So what am I misunderstanding?



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