Mental Health, The Sea and Sailing

Beneath The Surface

#1 Mental Health, The Sea And Sailing

20 January 2021

The Evening Standard’s recent investigation into the burgeoning mental health crisis among young people in society makes for frightening reading. Alarmingly, half a million children are now in need of support who had no diagnosed mental health problem before the pandemic. What’s more, we are seeing a terrible increase in reported incidents of self-harm which in turn informs the 68 per cent rise in the number of secondary school pupils having suicidal thoughts. All in all, there are a staggering number of increasingly lonelier young people losing motivation and confidence by the day, who are in desperate need of support.

It is in this context that we must reconsider the remarkable restorative impact that the sea can have on our wellbeing. Blue Health, a pan-European research initiative focused on exploring the links between  health and blue spaces, found that proximity to the water, especially the sea, is associated with improved stress relief, improved mental health, higher levels of vitamin D and better social relations. Dr Mathew White, a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter and an environmental psychologist with BlueHealth, points to the positive environmental factors associated with blue spaces; indeed, more often than not, one can expect to find a greater deal of sunlight and cleaner air by the sea. Tellingly, those who spend time near the water are usually more physically active across a range of sports, including not only swimming and sailing but also cycling and running.

Falmouth Marina - Cornwall
Falmouth Marina - Cornwall

In the UK we are fortunate to be surrounded by the sea and we’ve been reaping the benefits of our close connection for centuries. In fact, the first book that sought actively to establish the positive link between seawater and improved health was published as far back as 1752 by Dr Richard Russel. As we steadily recover from the immense difficulties of the past year, how, then, can we use the healing power of the sea once more to extend help to those who most need it? 

We reckon that there is no better way than to promote programmes that encourage young people to experience the thrills of being on the water. As such, we’ve been looking at great examples of how sailing can help you boost your health and wellbeing. A programme that we love is run by Cornwall-based charity called Sea Sanctuary. They organise activities on the water that energise and challenge those who take part, giving them responsibility and teaching them the power of teamwork. The Sail Into Life programmes are specially designed learn-to-sail courses which do wonders to improve mental health. Sea Sanctuary impressively combines evidence-based therapy sessions with sailing, which by way of the awesome power of adventure inspires confidence in participants and allows for transformative self-exploration. We want to make young people, especially vulnerable young people, aware of the extraordinary work of charities like Sea Sanctuary – so please do put the word out.  

Any person who has been lucky enough to have been out on a sailing boat will identify instantly with the incredible sense of freedom and excitement that one is afforded. Being at one with the sea, feeling the sea breeze on your face, tasting the salt in the air, standing on deck in the sunshine whilst gently rocking with the motion of the boat is truly liberating. It is in this healthy environment that people are really able to open up and explore difficult areas in their life, to talk honestly with one another and to face up to challenges that they would ordinarily steer clear of. Being prepared to soul-search is being prepared to overcome.

Our book recommendation this week is Wallace J. Nichols’ Blue Mind, which advocates the soothing effects of close contact with the ocean. In exploring the scientific causes for chronic stress and anxiety, Nichols argues that time spent on a boat is medicinal in its qualities. For him, Blue Mind is when we turn off our screens, disconnect, and take to the seas to give ourselves and our brains a much-deserved and much-needed break.

Blue Mind: How Water Makes You Happier, More Connected and Better at What You Do
Blue Mind: How Water Makes You Happier, More Connected and Better at What You Do

“I wanted freedom, open air, adventure. I found it on the sea.”

-Alain Gerbault, Sailor


Stringent cleaning procedures are already in-place across all boats globally for the well-being of our crew and guests.  These will be further enhanced to meet government guidelines in the UK and Italy which are in place in July 2021 in relation to the COVID pandemic.  These will include temperature checks prior to boarding; hand-sanitising stations in public areas; additional deep cleans of public areas including decks; social distancing if required.  With each catamaran’s capacity at a maximum of 10 people including skipper and chef, if required in August, guests would remain in catamaran bubbles during visits to vineyards and other on-shore activities.