Study Proves Boating and Being at Water Benefits Health and Wellbeing

Two paddlers on outrigger canoes at Corlette. Photo by Marian Sampson.


THE benefits of recreational boating have been assumed for decades, now they have been proven.

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A study from internationally renowned and award-winning marine biologist Dr Wallace Nichols, has revealed that boating delivers significant physiological and psychological benefits.

His work includes research into the vast cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, physical, and spiritual benefits that can be associated with time on or around the water.

Through his research, Dr Nichols has identified that the mere sight and sound of water promotes wellness by lowering cortisol, increasing serotonin and inducing relaxation.

Dr Nichols research suggests that being on the water promotes physiological and psychological benefits that help manage trauma, anxiety, sleep, autism, addiction, fitness, attention/focus, stress, grief, PTSD, build personal resilience, and much more.

This means that now when it is more important than ever, we may be able to improve our mental health and wellbeing simply by getting down to the waters’ edge, and taking in the sights and sounds or jumping on a boat.

On boats the feel-good hormones (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin) go up, while stress (cortisol) goes down.

“Being on a boat is one of the best ways to access the wellness benefits of the water,” said Dr Nichols.

Fiona Brown of YOUtopia Wellbeing in Port Stephens told News Of The Area, “I often have coaching sessions with my clients sitting by the water or walking along the beach.

“They seem better able to delve deeper and be more open and honest with themselves. The ocean is the perfect metaphor to support change,” said Brown.

Local skipper and international travelling yachtswoman Cherylle Stone said, “Boating, like life, is a very mixed bag.

“It can be quite stressful, if there is a threat to life and boat integrity.

“Boats can be quite demanding creatures in terms of maintenance and financial input.

“All that said, I get a great deal of satisfaction from sailing in all its guises and enjoy the challenge of keeping my vessel seaworthy.

“I agree that when I am sailing, I am 100% focused on that activity to the exclusion of all else, whether that be positive or negative.

“For me it is probably a form of mindfulness and it is certainly good for my soul,” said Stone.

Good Health is being celebrated during National Boating Week that runs through until 2 October, which coincides with the launch of an information portal at

The celebration week occurs alongside National Safe Boating Week, organised and delivered by the Australia New Zealand Safe Boating Education Group (ANZSBEG).

The focus is on education and understanding that safe boating means knowing the limits of your vessel.

Boaters are urged to ensure that before they go out you your vessel is seaworthy and appropriate for the chosen activity.

We need look no further than the recent search and rescues of one vessel in South Australia in recent weeks that show the need for seaworthy vessels, licences and the correct emergency equipment on all recreational and commercial vessels.

Find out more at




Chilli’s crew competed in the Port Stephens Yacht Club Saturday races. Photo by Marian Sampson.

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