Diabetic Sailors


Diabetic Sailors

For sailors and cruisers who are diabetic (of any Type) and their friends and loved ones.

Members: 11
Latest Activity: Jun 28

Diabetes Forum

Dinghy Sailing and Insulin

Started by bherrick. Last reply by Mike Ratrie Oct 8, 2011. 1 Reply

Hey sailors. Are either of you dinghy sailors? I race Lasers, but I also pump. This is problematic. For years I've just kinda winged it, but there has to be a better way. Waterproof pump cases? Shots…Continue

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Comment by Janet-G on May 21, 2014 at 7:30am
Check this out-Diabetic Sailors--> I know Erin only via social media!

Comment by LADA 2008 on May 21, 2014 at 6:14am

I love sailing - unfortunately my first hypo coma/epileptic seizures happened about 1 year after my diagnosis. I was with a crew of 5 others on a voyage around Corsica - they new I was diabetic and I always checked my BG's before we started sailing. One morning, I probably swam too long or didn't eat enough breakfast and boom I tested and was at 50 so I warned the crew, took some sugar and immediately lost consciousness and went into seizure - was out for about 5 hours. I'm still not sure why they didn't give me the glucagon shot but they had my doctor and others on the phone and I guess they figured the sugar I had eaten would eventually bring me up again. As you can imagine the "team" feeling of the crew was a bit messed up afterwards as one guy kept repeating to the others that they should never have let me come on the trip. I fortunately now have a CGM that warns me about 30 minutes before a hypo but still have to figure out a way to waterproof my Medtronic pump. Last summer I signed up for a course to get my sailing license and had to cancel as I was going hypo to often - I still have to look into whether they will even let me have a license due to the diabetes - one thing at a time.

Comment by Mike Ratrie on July 23, 2012 at 12:51pm


I lived on a sailboat for 5 years and had very little problem getting supplies. It did require some gymnastics, though. I would be happy to discuss further with you.

Where are you planning on cruising? How big will the boat be? How many on board? TDD? Will you have periodic trips back to the US and/or US-based visitors? etc, etc.

You are in for a wonderful experience!

Comment by Yifat on July 21, 2012 at 7:35pm

My son is T1 and 8yrs old. Our family is preparing to become full time cruisers on a monohull (yet to be purchased). We are planning to be away for two years exploring the world and home-schooling. Currently he is using a Medtronic Paradigm Revel pump and the Mio infusion sets. I'm trying to figure out the best way to ensure we will be able to get insulin and pump supplies. Does it work to have family back home mail it over or will it get stuck in customs or stolen? We are hoping to keep our current insurance coverage through COBRA, but I’m not sure how to keep the prescriptions filled and how to get them when we are overseas. Does anyone have experience with this challenge? Is it difficult and/or expensive to get Diabetes supplies outside the USA?

Comment by Mike Ratrie on November 30, 2011 at 8:49am


I would check with your doctor(s)/pharmacists to get them in synch. Next check with your pharmacy or pharmacy benefits manager and get a "vacation override". For me, I was able to get 6 - 9 months of supplies at once.

I also traveled to some "mail-unfriendly" places (like the Bahamas), so when I friends came to visit, I would have my prescriptions mailed to them and they would deliver my stuff. It took a bit of gymnastics to coordinate it all, for sure, but in the end, it worked out.

The loop should be relatively "easy" as I am sure there are total strangers along the way who will help and the Loop Association will put you in touch with these "angels".

Comment by Lee on November 30, 2011 at 8:30am

Thanks, Mike. I'm type 2 but I do take Byetta, an injectable. I wish that could be put in a pump but unfortunately not. I have other drugs as well. I currently have all my prescriptions in 90 day supply level but they are all out of synch with each other. If I could get them all in synch I would only need to see a pharmacist 4 times a year, very manageable. I was going to make sure I could do things via mail because you never know where you will be when traveling the loop.

Comment by Mike Ratrie on November 30, 2011 at 7:49am


Doing the loop should be a blast; talked with lots of trawler loopers when I was in the Bahamas - all raved about their experiences; meeting new people along the way, etc.

I second FatCatAnna's pump comments. I have the Accu-chek Spirit which also has the "waterproof" feature. That worked well, when I went in accidentally a few times (okay, once I just forgot to take it off). For me, the best part of the Spirit is having a back-up pump on hand, good for up to 6 months. That way, if/when the main pump dies, you swap out for the back-up. When you are moving every day or so to a new location, this really helps - no chance needed in managing the diabetes.

Overall, managing diabetes on a trawler will be almost identical to on land, you will just have to make sure you manage your supplies a bit differently.

Feel free to give me some questions (5 years on a boat, BTW)

Comment by Lee on November 30, 2011 at 6:41am

Wow, only seven of us! How can we do some recruiting? Seriously, I'm looking forward to anyone who has lived aboard for a length of time and how managing your diabetes worked in that situation. My wife and I have a C&C 27 we sail in Lake Pepin (fat spot in the Mississippi between Red Wing and Wabasha, Minnesota) and we do fine there. Our plan is to retire onto a trawler in about 5 years and do the loop.

Comment by FatCatAnna on February 3, 2011 at 9:18pm
Marie B just toldme about this grouup. I've been sailing for 10 years now (used to have stinky boat aka power - but too boring). First sailboat was a Catalina 25 called the Fat Cat - which we actually did race with - not the sleekest boat to race in - but loads of fun. We just found a sweet deal last year on a Catalina 30 - Jenna's Journey - since we're planning on eventually doing a coastal cruise to Caribbean (retirement will be upon us soon). Every September we head off into Lake Ontario for a month of sailing - when the winds are good and strong! BTW, insulin pumps - are the best thing since sliced bread for us water folks - when we're battling rough seas. I have an Animas 2020 - waterproof - incase I get knocked overboard - we'll both survive :)

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