Seasickness

You’d be amazed how many people suffer from sea sickness, including professional sailors such as Tracy Edwards, so I’d be a fool to say it’s all in the mind. But there is undoubtedly a psychological component so try to banish those fears of the yacht capsizing (it won’t) or never seeing land again (possible but unlikely – the skipper will be looking forward to his hard earned beer)!

What makes me so sure?  Well, it’s because a number of the cures are little more than distraction techniques or placebos and I’ve seen them work!

However I’ve found most holiday sailors who think they’re suffering from seasickness are actually just dehydrated.  People sinply don’t realise how much fluid you use sailing in the hot sun so before you try my seasickness cures make sure you’re full of water.  And if you have got dehydrated and don’t have any flashy preparations from the chemists in the first aid box, flat cola works a treat.

Numerous “cures” have been suggested and it disappoints my engineers brain that some of them do seem to work.  So try these:

  • avoid looking down eg reading, studying charts
  • get on the helm – looking at the horizon helps, steering towards a cloud is even better if there are any.
  • tablets such as Stugeron are worth a try – I’d suggest you take these with you.  Most brands seem to cause some drowsiness but different people respond to different makes in different ways so if one brand doesn’t work, try another.  Do take them in advance though – they take a while to kick in so it’s no good waiting until you actually feel ill.
  • make sure you don’t stop drinking (not alcohol)! and try to eat at usual times, even if it’s just a little of something plain.
  • nibble on some ginger, or if not available, some ginger biscuits or anything else with ginger in it (maybe not ginger beer)
  • wrist bands are available from chemists – some people swear by them
  • patches, looking like plasters, that fix behind your ears are available on prescription
  • artificial horizon glasses are an idea I’ve not tried and you may or may not want to be seen wearing them!
  • keep out of the sun as much as possible, and avoid going down below if it’s hot (it usually is)
  • if you want to sleep down below, the best place (because it moves around the least and has the best ventilation) is in the saloon, second best an aft cabin, worst place the forepeak.
  • if on deck try to sit down wind so if the worst happens you don’t throw up over the rest of the crew
  • make sure the skipper is aware, and skippers then make sure either the casualty is clipped on or there is someone to grab hold if they lean over the side to vomit so they don’t fall in. (I sailed with one skipper who used to insist anyone who threw up did so in to a bucket which seemed to ensure that if one person became ill, soon everyone else was too)!
  • distract the patient by all means available except continually asking if they feel any better!

There are a few more oddball theories I’ve never got around to testing such as putting a plaster over your belly button or an earplug in the ear opposite your dominant hand. Any feedback on these or alternative solutions welcome – drop me an email.