Tips on seasickness
Most people, including captains and professional crew, get seasick, some more severely than others. It’s quite normal, especially during the first few days of an ocean passage. Here are some tips on seasickness and considerations to minimize the risks and maximize the fun at sea.
What is Seasickness?
Seasickness happens when the body and brain fall out of synch, and the brain decides your system needs to be flushed out. In France, they say seasickness is triggered by the three F’s (faim, froid, fatigue)—hunger, cold, tiredness. Stay ahead of that! Hopefully, you prepared for seasickness.
What are the symptoms of Seasickness?
The first symptoms are yawning, sweating, quietness. If you spot this with your fellow crew member you can anticipate and put him or her behind the helm, and not send him or her down in the galley to cook up a meal. Seasickness symptoms include throwing up, feeling unwell, feeling tired, dizziness, headache, sweating, and burping.
How to prepare against seasickness?
- Have seasickness medicine, ginger candy, biscuits, and mineral electrolyte solution as part of your kit. Seasickness medicine comes in the form of pills, ear stickers, and relief bands. Find out what works for you. Test seasickness medicine before to see how your body reacts.
- The day before:
- Eat super healthy and light.
- Be well hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Don’t drink alcohol, coffee or black tea. That dehydrates.
- A few hours before sailing out:
- Take seasickness medication.
- Have your clothes, head torch, sunscreen, water bottle, sickness bag, and all you need for watch and sleeping, ready to grab. You’ll be okay doing watch, and you’ll be fine lying on your back in bed with your eyes closed. It’s just the areas between bed and cockpit that are the challenging zones to navigate when you’re seasick.
- Have some crackers ready to nibble on.
How to deal with seasickness, once at sea?
At all times: Stay hydrated!
The first days: Have easily digestible meals, with fruits and vegetables, during the first day or two at sea.
When you start to feel seasick (early seasickness symptoms: yawning, sweating, a little headache)
- Stop thinking about it
- Don’t go below deck.
- If you feel like drinking or eating, have something before or at the beginning of your watch. If you eat or drink right before going into bed, throwing up is almost guaranteed
- Add a mineral and vitamin-rich solution (like electrolyte sachets)
to your water to make sure your body gets what it needs.
- Eat cookies, ginger candy or bananas.
- Take the helm.
- Watch the horizon, if near land, watching the coastlines helps
What to do when you are seasick?
- Be aware of the wind direction, and throw up on the leeward side. You will only forget this once. Be attached with a lifeline or have someone holding you. If that’s not an option, get a bucket.
- Stay in the cockpit, lay in bed with your eyes closed, or take the helm.
- Keep drinking small sips and eating small snacks to stay hydrated and energised.
- Lick the sea salt from your skin! It’s full of minerals!
- Stay involved. Though you most feel like it, going to bed and staying there forever is not the quickest solution.
What to do when your fellow crew is seasick
- Help them get over it. Provide water, biscuits, and don’t leave them alone for too long.
- Don’t let someone who feels seasick cook, wash dishes or clean the toilet. Time below deck should be minimised.
- Don’t let them stay in bed for days. They may feel better, but it won’t help them get over it quickly either.
- Don’t make fun of them too much.
- Remember: it will pass.
I almost always become seasick my first day at sea and I still happily jump on board. It’s so worth it! I know how to deal with it and remain a competent crew. Personally I prefer seasickness over the side effects of seasickness medication. It makes me a more useful crew member. Looking for more tips on seasickness and crewing? More on preparing for offshore sailing as crew in book Ocean Nomad.
What tips and suggestions do you have on seasickness? Share them in the comments!