Photo by Brooke Palmer

“Brooke! You can do it!” my dad yelled from below. I creeped forward toward the edge of the glacial rock. It seemed impossibly high. I was 5 years old, and I thought that if I jumped, I would surely die.

Shivering, I peeked over the cliff’s edge to try to spot my dad below. Where had he gone? I decided to abort mission. But as I was about to step back, my feet lifted off the ground. My limbs awkwardly dangled as my dad held me by my neon life jacket strap.

Before I could discern what had happened, my stomach dropped and my head popped up through the frigid water of the Pacific Northwest ocean.

“See, Brooke? I told you you could do it!” my dad yelled from above. “You had the courage. You just needed the nudge.”

By the end of the day, my mental state had transformed to exhilaration, and it lasted throughout my childhood. Growing up in Seattle, the options for water lovers were endless. Many weekends, my parents would take us kids on cruises to all the various Puget Sound harbors. We’d fight over who got to take the helm. We ate healthy, exercised our minds and bodies, and spent a lot of time on the ocean. We learned that personal wellness is no secret for healthy and prolonged living.

Fast forward 27 years, and my husband, Braden, and I are now teaching our 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son healthy living while cruising full-time on our Nordhavn 55. Like all cruising families, we endure a steady stream of high waves, low tides and unpredictable countercurrents, all of which we do our best to manage without turning to unhealthy lifestyle habits.

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One thing we’ve learned is to stay ahead of the game on maintenance. I don’t just mean in regard to the boat, rather, in our personal lives as well. Just because you left the landlubber life doesn’t mean you left your sore back, procrastination tendencies or dietary willpower behind. In fact, boat life can exacerbate those issues, even more so for those of us who spend weeks or months at a time aboard our boats, close-quartered and confined to the boundaries of the bulkheads. Maintaining wellness on board is a daily practice that requires pushing yourself, sometimes against your own will, while learning to embrace the occasional challenge. One of our time-tested routines on long-hauls aboard Mermaid Monster is to start every morning with a personal check-in. I find a quiet spot on the boat and take 10 minutes to clear my head and focus on my mental state. Then I'll make a list of goals for the day: boat tasks, career work, diet, exercise and cruising plans. As with any cruising itinerary, aim to be well-organized, but be prepared to be flexible.

When it comes to personal wellness when living aboard, you can pretty much do anything you set your mind to. That you’ve cast the lines and left the dock suggests you have the will to embark on new endeavors. Sometimes it's the way-finding where we can all use a little nudge. 

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Brooke Palmer is a Master 100 Ton licensed captain, a professional photographer whose work has been featured globally and a healthy living advocate. Along with her husband, Braden, plus their two children and two dogs, she has logged more than 8,000 nautical miles while living aboard Mermaid Monster, the family’s 55-foot Nordhavn floating home.

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