Overcoming Seasickness

The one sure fire way to avoid seasickness is to stay away from boats.

This form of motion sickness can affect anyone, even the most hardened sailors.

While ‘Mal de Mer’ may not be life threatening, the nausea can be so extreme that the victim often wishes it were.

Fortunately, the worst effects can be avoided with a few precautions, by understanding the causes and if necessary taking some medications.


Seasickness Cartoon

Motion sickness can affect anyone who has normal inner ear balance function.

Even those of us who, like me, seem to have been born with their sea legs, can be affected while out on the water.

Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way that I know of to totally avoid seasickness, but there are some precautions that you can take to minimize the effects.

First thing is to recognise the symptoms for what they are.

Even though you feel extremely nauseous you are not really ‘sick’, you are just out of balance.

Sea-sickness like any motion sickness is caused by the balance centre in your inner ear recording the unfamiliar motion, while your eyes are telling your brain that the world is stable.

The nausea is the result of this confusion.

One of the first signs is feeling drowsy.

This won’t necessarily develop into full scale nausea, in fact many people do actually suffer from mild seasickness without realizing it.

The next stage after the sleepiness is mild the nausea.

This can be kept in check by following the precautions I have listed below.

However, for those unfortunate enough, the symptoms will escalate, nausea can become extreme, followed by dizziness, headaches, cold perspiration and the dreaded vomiting.

And it certainly doesn’t help you feel any better if everyone else on board is perfectly comfortable and happily enjoying the ride.

If you have a seasickness remedy that works for you please share it in the comments box below.


We have all read the stories and advice about seasickness clearing up after three or four days at sea.

While they may be true they are not very reassuring for those who just want to enjoy a day on the water, or I suspect for the long voyager on the first day of sickness.

The few times when I have felt nauseous on board it has mainly been due to the combination of the motion plus over indulging the evening before.

So, for anyone but especially those who are prone to motion sickness, precautions should start well before going aboard.

Avoid eating anything that is inclined to cause a stomach upset such as fried or spicy foods and allow plenty of time for it to be digested before sailing.

Get plenty of rest and avoid partying too hard the night before, a hangover is bad enough without exacerbating it with motion sickness.

While you should avoid drinking too much alcohol do drink plenty of the other stuff.

And stay hydrated while on board.

Just as ballerinas have a trick to stop them becoming dizzy so we boaters can help reduce the chances of seasickness.

Once on board you will be less likely to feel the worst effects of seasickness if your eyes are seeing what your ears are feeling.

This is why going below is not such a good idea.

Laid on a bunk, the interior of the cabin will appear to your eyes be steady when your ear is saying that you are anything but.

The same goes for reading a book, spending more than a few moments looking at the charts, the compass or through binoculars.

Try to keep your eyes, working to interpreting the motion of the boat and the waves, at the same time keeping your peripheral vision out on the horizon  and not staring at objects that your eye will interpret as being stable.

Find the position on the boat where there is least motion but at the same time allows you to see the horizon, this will normally be low down in the cockpit.

While being out there in the fresh air is good, it is vitally important to keep warm.

Try to loosen up and allow your body to roll with the boat.

Take some deep breaths.

And try to keep busy, anything you feel up to doing will help distract you from your discomfort.

If you feel drowsy a nap might help but don’t lie down or go below, find somewhere in a corner of the cockpit where you can sit, wedge your self and keep well wrapped up.

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Seasickness Remedies

There is a plethora of ‘remedies’ on the market, but as I have never had to take any I’m not in a position to recommend any.

On the other hand, anyone who is inclined to suffer may find that one of these remedies is the answer to enjoying time on the water.

Some of the medications can be bought other over the counter others require a prescription from your doctor.

Stick-on scopolamine patches usually require a doctor's prescription.

The majority of these medications cause drowsiness and a dry mouth.

As with any medication the instructions for their use should be read carefully and they should be taken with care.

Usually they should be taken well before you leave land so that they have enough time to take effect.

There are also some herbal remedies containing ginger which are reported to have a beneficial effect.

And then there are the wrist bands which use acupuncture pressure points and are claimed to help some people.

Fortunately the symptoms soon disappear when your system learns to compensate for the swaying and pitching of the boat, though that my take a day or two.

On the other hand when you do go ashore you my have to regain your ‘land legs’ before you can adjust to being on terra firma again.

Please comment if you have tried any of these remedies.

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