Gait Belts Onboard = Boating Freedom for Unsteady Feet

Gait Belts Onboard


Here’s a pro tip for taking someone sailing who isn’t steady on their feet. Maybe you have a wonderful friend or family member who’s older or has a medical problem that makes it hard for them to get around on land, much less on a boat. Or maybe someone has gotten injured on the boat and needs assistance walking. How can we help?

Gait belts, or transfer belts as they’re sometimes called, can make a big difference. An “official” gait belt is a 2” wide woven cotton belt that is fastened around the waist to help support the wearer. A sailing gait belt can be improvised with a sail tie, wrapped twice around. If there’s any issue going around the waist, wrap it up higher, under the arm pits. This gives us something to hang onto to support our friend without having to give them an atomic wedgie by hanging onto the back of their pants or onto fragile arms. It can be used to help them walk, get on and off the boat or to stand up from a sitting position. It also allows two people to support the wearer, one on each side. Gait belts are a physical therapist’s secret weapon.

Gait Belts In Action

Gait Belts Onboard

Photo credit Shelly Galligan.

I used one recently to help a dear older sailor get out on the water. His heart needed to sail, but his body wouldn’t cooperate. Both he and I felt more secure knowing I had a firm hold on him at all times. His wonderful friend came to me with tears in his eyes, telling me what it meant to him to see his friend sailing.

Do you know someone who would love to get out on the water, but you’re just not comfortable taking them out alone? Call me. It’s what I do. I’m a professional sailing nurse and offshore medical specialist. Let’s make it happen.

A special shout out to my assistant “patient” Tyann for modeling our demo gait belt!

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