Man on Rear Deck of Cruise Ship

The dude posing in the picture above doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into. I try to avoid drinking coffee before heading out, for obvious reasons. Particularly when I’m on small, open boats. Problem: Being on the water on the margins of the day, especially over consecutive days, can make a person bone tired. Something’s got to give.

I’ve tried Vivarin. It’s like mainlining espresso straight into your veins. You’re uber-edgy and the same issues with coffee arise. An anecdotal aside: I tried a few to stay up on New Year’s one time. It worked but the next day I temporarily lost the ability to sweat. Verdict: Avoid on boats.

I’ve tried Mountain Dew. It has less caffeine than coffee, but the pure sugar content usually provides a quick boost, without the edginess. But, for me anyhow, the weaker caffeine crash is partially offset by the sugar crash. Plus, a 12-ounce can has 170 empty calories. The 20-ounce diet Code Red is pretty awesome, but I found it only once in a gas station mini-mart in South Carolina. Verdict: Maybe.

I bring energy bars. I eat them and like them and want them aboard, but that early in the morning I’m trying to stave off delirium, not run an exercise circuit. Not enough juice. Verdict: Maybe.

Lately, Five-hour Energy’s have been getting it done. I’ve taken them on fishing trips and felt alert and sharp, but usually for only around three hours. For me, at least, it starts to fade at that point but there’s no crash as with coffee, and none of coffee’s unwanted side effects, even though it contains caffeine. I’m not convinced taking 8,000 percent of your recommended B12 is a healthy thing in the long haul, but until someone tells me otherwise, I’m sticking with it. Just not every day.