Photo credit: fellow cruiser and photographer Shiera Brady

I’ve got this image in my head: I’m sitting in a physician’s office filling out the form that seems to be required for taking up a seat in the waiting room, regardless of one’s ailment. I go down the list, happily checking off “N/A” or “none” for just about everything, wondering why the doctor evaluating my toe fungus really needs to know about my father’s history with Parkinson’s Syndrome.

I’m just about done. But I know what’s coming. Don’t we all?

“Do you use alcohol? Circle Yes/No”

Uh, yes, but I have to say that I’m not liking how you’re asking.

“How many glasses of alcohol do you drink on average per week? Circle one.




7 or more”

And while we do our best to answer all the preceding questions with honesty and integrity, we lie on this one, don’t we?

We have all heard that moderate alcohol consumption (12-14 grams of alcohol each day) seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, but who would admit to having 7 or more drinks a week when clearly that is the answer that raises eyebrows?

While sitting in that doctor’s office, I have thought about crossing out the word “week” on that form and inserting “day” before I answer, but instead, without a twinge of guilt, I simply lie. I round down…way down. I circle the 2-4 drinks per week option,

And now that I live on a boat, more than ever, I dread answering that question, because as a cruiser, I am immersed in a culture of alcohol. And on a boat, with our friends, the Law of Equivalent Drinking, or LED, rules.

Cruisers, of which I am one, simply drink a lot more than the average Joe. We have a drink to celebrate setting our anchors at a new location. We drink when we finish a boat project (and there are an infinite number of these). We may have a glass or two of wine at lunch simply because we want to and will not be returning to work after lunch to operate on your mother. Cruisers will have a beer at the beach when we meet in the late afternoon for a swim. We have rum drinks after we hike. And most importantly, we look forward to sundowners, because watching the sun set without an alcoholic beverage in hand is something akin to heresy.

I say this completely without judgment, because I don’t believe that I in particular, or any of the cruisers I know, have a problem with alcohol. We are a very responsible bunch in almost every way. The terms AFD (Alcohol Free Day) or LAD (Low Alcohol Day- i.e. just a glass of wine at sunset or dinner) are common around here and respected. Mostly everyone I know (including us) has alcohol free passages, and would not have it any other way.

Cruisers work hard and play hard in very warm climates, and other than exposure to a ridiculous number of mosquitoes, very powerful DEET, way too much sun, and the constant possibility of dying from a freak boating accident, we otherwise live amazingly healthy and physical lifestyles. I suspect our heavy alcohol consumption simply evens things out.

So other than a nod of apology to my waistline, I will not apologize to my doctor for my current lifestyle. When I am asked how many alcoholic beverages I consume a week, no longer will I lie by rounding down to circle the 2-4 drinks/week option.

I will definitely lie by rounding down to the 5-6 drinks/week option.

Forgive me, but I’m still not interested in raising eyebrows.

Photo credit: fellow cruiser and photographer Shiera Brady



Do You Lie When Your Doctor Asks About Alcohol Consumption? was last modified: by

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