Seasickness

by Barry Tyler

       Seasickness, the bain of virtually everyone at some stage of their boating life, is a phenomenon that surprisingly, very few people fully understand. Out of a boat load of people you may be the only one who is feeling sick, or at least admitting to it, but the frustrating part about it all is you know not how it manifested, and even less about how to relieve the often very distressing symptoms. 

Traditionally it will be in a rolling sloppy sea where you get sick, rather than in inland waterways, but if you are a sufferer of it, remember, you are not alone – some people never get seasick, others just need to step on a boat and they are instantaneously – very ill.  If you get carsick, you’ll probably be seasick too, and if you can read in a car without feeling queasy, chances are you won’t get seasick.  Seasickness simply happens when the body, inner ear, and eyes all send different signals to the brain, resulting in confusion and queasiness. 

Simple enough, so how do you overcome it, how do you remove the single biggest obstacle to fully enjoying your day on the water?  There are number of often costly, often useless, pharmaceutical and herbal remedies available, but the following are a few simple do and don’ts – to avoid seasickness. 

• The evening prior to your boating excursion, avoid alcohol, fatty and spicy foods and get a good night’s sleep. 

• If possible sleep on board the night before departure. 

• Read medication directions – you are advised to take most

seasickness medication before boarding.  Taking them the day before will also help your body to adjust and you will know if you are going to suffer any side effects. 

• If you are in a competition of some description, check that the medication’s ingredients are not banned substances for your event. 

• Never go to sea on an empty stomach. 

• Find the part of the boat with the least motion – usually in the centre of the boat, or if on a larger vessel or ship, on the lower deck. 

• Stay in fresh air and take a few deep breaths. 

• Watch a fixed point on the horizon – a land point if possible.  Avoid focussing on moving objects.  The more land you can see the less chance there is of you becoming seasick, this is why most people don’t get sick inshore. 

• Keep away from engine fumes. 

• Don’t do any close-up activities, look through binoculars, or read a book or magazine. 

• Avoid cramped spaces. 

• Avoid anxiety and fatigue. 

• Occupy your mind, focusing on something other than being seasick. 

• When you first start feeling queasy eat a snack of dry savoury biscuits, ginger biscuits, bread or non-acidic fruit.  Ginger and honey are recommended for settling the stomach.  Avoid fatty or salty foods. 

• Drink plenty of water or ginger ale.  A small beer may help you relax but drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. 

• Talking about seasickness, increases the chances of you actually being seasick. 

• If really ill, lie on your back and close your eyes.  Sip water to avoid dehydration. 

• If you are about to vomit do so from the leeward side of the boat, if safe, not the windward side (you get your own back, so to speak).


Wendy Elliston
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