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Long time readers may recall that when we first started out sailing, I suffered from frequent bouts of sea sickness. While I was never brought to the point of vomiting, I was often nauseous when the sea state became lively. I am extremely happy to report that for the most part, I seem to have gotten over it. I can now even read while underway, an activity that, in the past, would surely have set me off. Because of my prior troubles though, I have a particular empathy for those who experience the same condition, or worse. I know that I got off lucky. It can be debilitating!

Unfortunately, several of our most recent guests have also had to deal with mal de mer. The weather last week was less than great so for those with us then, I can easily understand why. We experienced some very bouncy sailing conditions, and had some rolly anchorages too. Even though, this week, we’ve had a significant improvement in the overall weather, we’ve still found ourselves in a couple of wind-against-tide situations producing conditions that could easily induce sea sickness for those without an iron stomach. Not good, unless someone was looking for a good test.

A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.

What did I do to deal with this?

  • Remained on deck while underway, most often at the helm.
  • Avoided reading or any activity that required me to look down.
  • Made sure that I had something to eat (sandwich, etc.). Sailing on an empty stomach always made me feel worse.
  • When I started feeling queasy I would sip some ginger ale.
  • If I was feeling really bad, I’d take Gravol with ginger.
  • Aside from that, I sailed a lot!

Many other people who suffer from sea sickness take much more serious medications to deal with it (scopolamine, etc.). While I think these drugs may work, I have no personal experience with them.

Anyone care to share their sea sickness experiences and/or remedies?

28 Comments

  1. I wear the wrist bands with an embedded bead for a pressure point. Worked on my last two off shore dive trips out of NC.

  2. Meclizine works well for me, and I find that if I start taking it 24 hours before we leave it has a chance to get into my system and I do much better. I take 1 every 12 hours instead of 2 every 24 so there’s never a “wearing off” time.

  3. My wife will get sea sick when the seas are following sometimes. We have found that if you use a single foam ear plug it will help. Just a basic foam ear plug you get at walmart works great if you want to get fancy with it you can use a hallow needle and make an air hold thru it to help hear better. Its the pressure on the ear that helps with the motion sickness. Hope it helps.

  4. Ginger works well. You can get it to drink, eat as candy, or as a gum. There is also a product Motion Eaze that works well too. It’s available on Amazon. Keeping stomach full is a big help along with keeping hydrated.

  5. Diane swears by STUGERON, 15mg per tablet. This drug is not available in the US, but is produced and sold in the UK by Janssen-Cilag Ltd. It is commonly found in Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and many countries with links to the UK. You can buy it from the pharmacist, and you don’t need a doctors prescription.

  6. Marazine always worked for me. I used it because other meds caused drowsiness.
    I love the admonishment on the label: Do not take if pregnant or ABOUT to become pregnant.
    Ed

  7. Plus one for ginger. Family members swear by it.

    The only time I have ever felt anyting was preparing a meal on a particularly awful day. Unfortunately it needed to be a full dinner, and no one else dare go below. It was only slight.

    The cure then, and anytime I feel a little less than perfect, is to nibble on a ginger root, which I like. Better than any other form, for me. But you have to like ginger!

    I just happened to be preparing Jamaican Stew Fish, a dish that is heavy on ginger, that day, and I like to nibble while I cook anyway (seems like fare payment). Since then it has become a cruise staple. I always seem to raise spirits. Consider emphasizing a dishing containing ginger on sailing days.

  8. People also seem to do better if I send them forward, to the tramp. Doesn’t really make sense, as there is more motion. I think it has to do with seeing it coming and the rhythm.

    My wife swears by sleeping through it (she has severe inner ear problems). If she can’t see it, it does not exist. Works fine, until you have to pee, which is its own adventure with things are kicking.

  9. I’ve done passages where I turn deep green, curl up in a fetal position, and can’t even hold down water! (Tends to kinda take the fun out of sailing.) So, I’ve taken to doping myself up with every pharmaceutical aid known to man, starting at least 24 hours before casting off. It seems to help – usually. Plus I do all the other things you mentioned (stay on deck, take the helm, etc.)

    But hey, I’m glad to hear that over time you were able to build up a resistance to it. That means there’s hope for me!

    By the way, how does Rebecca handle bouncy seas?

  10. My sister in law has a lot of trouble with this. I found the best way to help her was to keep her hydrated, on deck, and to give her an assignment that kept her looking out at the horizon. She was our official ‘big wave” lookout. It worked. We ran out of ginger ale on one trip, though!

  11. Hi Mike and Rebecca – a very happy new year to you both!

    The motion of the ocean can indeed be a horrible affliction for the most unsuspecting sailor. It is always wise to be well hydrated, adequately nourished, and certainly not sleep deprived or recovering from a late night binge before making passage if one wishes to minimize “mal de mer”.

    With regards to addressing motion sickness directly, management can be broken down in measures aimed at prevention, and those focused on specifically on treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a great one-pager that is most informative. Here’s the link: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/the-pre-travel-consultation/motion-sickness

    The mainstay of pharmaceutical and prescription medications are the class of medications known as antihistamines, which can help to down regulate both nausea and vomiting. Medications in this class include the brand names Stugeron (Cinnarizine) and Bonamine / Antivert (Meclizine). An undesirable side effect however of this class of medication can be sedation.

    The anti-nausea / anti-vomiting treatment (Zofran / Ondansetron) often used to treat toxin related vomiting in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, is in fact useless as a motion sickness treatment and should best be avoided. And besides, it is significantly expensive and very cost prohibitive.

    On our boat the go to agent of choice was and is always Stugeron (Cinnarizine). 2 x 15mg tablets for adults taken at least two hours prior to commencing sailing activity and can be repeated up to three times daily as needed. For kids age 6 – 15 years the dose is reduced to one 15mg tablet three times daily as needed.

    Disclaimer – the information provided is not to be considered a prescription and is provided for informative and educational purposes only. At all times check with a licensed physician in your own jurisdiction if you are considering taking prescription medication.

    Fair seas and following winds!!

    Alan – A recovering sailor with a doctoring habit 🙂

  12. Hi

    I have received many cures over the years
    Here are 2 that I think might work
    Stand on the foredeck and eat bananas. It worked for me but I was never seasick to start with
    A graduate from some —-olegy came up with the best but I have not tried it out
    Sit in a bathtub until you feel better
    As you don’t have a bathtub just tow the cook behind the boat until she feels better.
    Let me know if it works

    Cheers from sunny Queensland

  13. I’m a real fan of ginger, but I will also take meclazine when needed.

    For strong ginger tea, I add 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger to a coffee cup and add hot water. It’s spicy, but that’s just flavor as far as I’m concerned. It’s gritty, but I don’t mind. I suppose I could run the water through a coffee filter, but I don’t feel the need to.

    This strong ginger tea completely settles my stomach for about 3 hours.

    – Dave

  14. The weather has to get pretty nasty before I get queasy, but everyone has their limits. I think the trick is to take some Bonamine or equivalent as SOON as you think, “I wonder if I should take some Bonamine…”

    Actually, the words “I wonder if…” should always be followed up by instant action on a boat!

    Love your blog.

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