Making Repairs on a Sailboat like a Master Yoga Guru

Published on August 26th, 2015

by Debbie Lynn, Sail Magazine

Have you ever noticed how when something goes wrong on a boat, you often must contort and maneuver your body into inaccessible cramped places to fix it? Defying all logical positions and possibilities, you make your body do things you never thought possible. You become a pliable bending machine that can go upside down in a heartbeat, swivel your head like the possessed girl in The Exorcist, balance over a dark abyss as you try to retrieve that tiny little screw in the bottom of the bilge. See it now? This is boat yoga.

Unless you have a marine carpenter, mechanical and electrical engineer, handyman and maid on board, a Master Boat Yoga Guru must toil away fixing the never-ending list of broken stuff in a process I call “mental hopscotch.” The untold gyrations of mental and physical exercises needed to remedy many problems onboard should qualify as a professional sport. In yoga, this process is known as a mindful, thoughtful dedication to our practice. Both scenarios utilize the art of staying calm (mind over matter) to save ourselves from internal combustion via the daily grind, or a boater’s heart attack.

Let’s go to class. The class is called Vinyasa, or “flow”, going continuously from one movement to the next. We’ll begin with repairing the light over the sink. This seems simple enough. You remove the overhead panel (stool required, balancing on your tippy-toes with screwdriver in your mouth) as you fight with the screws that hold the panel in place. Grunting, heaving, cussing and straining, with a sudden crack, it releases. Success! In yoga, we say (without using an expletive) “surrender to the pose.” The more we push, the more it pushes back.

OK, the panel is down. However, an evil smell begins to permeate the cabin. Ah yes … our old friend Mister Mold. Now, besides changing the light fixture, you must find the origin of the odor. You hoist yourself up on top of any cabinet that will support you, thrust your head above the rest of the ceiling panels (flashlight held firmly in your mouth) and hoist yourself into the void. This position can be equal to what we yogis call “plank.” Plank uses every muscle in your body, some you had no idea you had. You are determined, strong, and the body is shaking as you strive to hold position and find the source of the leak that presumably has generated the black mold.

You twist to the right, twist to the left, move forward, backward (still holding your weight off the ground in a one-legged plank) and read on

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