Wavysail's Guide on Seasickness: How to prevent it and how to cope with it
One of the least pleasant aspects of going to sea is the possibility of getting seasick. An individual's susceptibility to seasickness is highly variable. If you've ever had motion sickness when travelling by car or plane, you may be more susceptible to seasickness while aboard a vessel. Seasickness seems to affect every individual differently, some are very much impacted and others are not susceptible at all. This means that it is a highly personal illness.
In this article, I'll share some tips & tricks on how to avoid seasickness - or at least decrease the chances of getting seasick - and how to cope with it if it does hit you.
What causes seasickness?
Seasickness results from a conflict in the inner ear and the erratic motion of a vessel. (Source NOAA)
Seasickness does not seem to last very long, and even the most susceptible crew seem to start to get their "sea legs" after about 24 hours while on deck. This is followed by being able to go below without feeling the symptoms after about 48 hours.
Again, due to the individual nature of seasickness different remedies seem to work better for different crew. Some prefer the oral medicine like 'Stugeron' others prefer the patches etc. This is something that each individual will have to test for themselves. However, there are ways that we try to avoid seasickness as best we can.
6 Ways to Avoid Getting Seasick
1. Sail in favourable weather
During our Wavysaila adventures, we try to leave when the weather is favourable. This allows the crew to settle into the motion of the vessel in mild conditions, hopefully alleviating the symptoms.
2. Avoid alcohol & spicy food
We also discourage heavy spicy meals and consumption of alcohol before heading to sea. Both of these can make the symptoms worse.
3. Spend time below deck
Spending time below deck during the first 36-48 hours of a trip can bring on the symptoms. Below deck there is no horizon, or view of the sea and waves and movement can seem far more erratic. Also, preparing your luggage and self well will help reduce the time below deck and get the crew on deck quicker, into the fresh air and keeping them busy. One still has to sleep, so having your gear packed efficiently and being ready for a quick dress and return to deck can help.
4. Keep yourself busy
Once on deck keeping busy and if the symptoms start, move onto the helm. The concentration of helming often seems to alleviate the symptoms.
5. Stay on board the night before departure
Sleeping on board for a night before departure also seems to help, especially if you are moored up where the vessel will still have some movement.
6. Stay warm and dry
Keeping warm and dry while on deck. Once crew are wet or cold, they will have to venture below to either change clothes or put on warmer ones again spending time below deck.
How to cope with the symptoms of seasickness?
In all my years at sea, I have never seen or heard of anyone being so seasick that it was life-threatening and having to be hospitalised due to seasickness. However, I have seen some accidents due to the 'numbing' effects of seasickness, falls, rope burns etc. This means if some crew are seasick, they need to be extra careful and the whole crew need to look out for each other, especially for those who may not be feeling 100%.
Good crew help each other through the hard times and seasickness is no different. If you are not seasick you can help those that are and make life a little more bearable, by bringing water and small amounts of food to the seasick crew. You can make sure they are safe and do the more taxing jobs on deck, until the seasick crew get over the symptoms.
My advice to the seasick crew is to stick with it. It WILL pass and then your trip becomes brilliant and here then, is the ultimate cure for seasickness - simply to do all you can in preparation to make symptoms less and then to allow time for your body to adjust...Time is the ultimate cure!