Seasickness, sometimes referred to at sea by its French name “mal de mer,” is a very common disturbance of the inner ear that’s caused by repeated motion. Anyone can develop motion sickness at sea, and it is something that well travelled sailors suffer with repeatedly.
The threat of seasickness commonly ranks highly in the list of worries and concerns voiced before a sail training adventure. The risk of seasickness shouldn’t be too much of a worry for you and your time at sea though, because there are a number of things – we’ve picked our top 10 – that you can do to avoid falling foul of the motion of the ocean.
1. Food and Drink
It may seem obvious, but a great thing to do to avoid becoming seasick is to watch what you eat on board. If there are any foods that sometimes don’t agree with you on land, make sure you definitely avoid them at sea. Heavy, spicy and fatty foods, including milk, are often culprits that worsen sickness in some people. Many people swear that ginger works – have it in tea, crystalised, biscuits, or raw.
What works for you? Let us know in the comments below.
2. Avoid Reading on Board
Everyone loves a good book, right? Right?! One of the major causes of seasickness is the inability of the body to marry up the general movements of the sea with stationary surroundings on board. Adding to this struggle with attempts to focus on the words of a page is really not going to help. Instead, try a talking book or podcast to take your mind off things.
Any good suggestions? Share them with us, below.
3. Fix Your Gaze on the Horizon
Seasickness is a sensory mismatch of sorts. Your body receives different messages from your inner ear, eyes and body. By looking out onto the horizon, you find the general stability seen is tempered by swells in the ocean that are picked up by your peripheral vision. This whole picture of the environment makes more “sense” to your brain and avoids the mismatch of sensations.
If this works for you then steering is a great activity for you on a voyage.
4. Fill up on Fresh Air
You feel awful? You just want to be left alone in your bed? Everything will be OK in the morning if you’re just left to die right now? Well, it might be, but you will really help your chances by keeping your head above deck and taking in as much fresh air as possible. It’s free after all and there is lots of it.
If this works for you then look out on watch is a great activity for you on the voyage.
5. Medicine over the Counter
Over-the-counter medications can be a very effective preventive measure for short trips or for mild cases of motion sickness. Your doctor also may choose to prescribe medications for longer trips or if you repeatedly develop severe motion sickness whilst out at sea. Some do you make you drowsy though, so don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
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6. Avoid Sick Crewmates
Avoid all your sick mates on board ship? That’s a bit mean! It may seem to be, but there is ample scientific evidence that suggests that developing seasickness can be as much in someone’s head as it is related to their actual environment. Put simply, scientists have proven that being around sick people, and the worry that it causes, can actually make you seasick.
7. Spend your time on deck
Remember what we said about fresh air and the horizon? Well – you can often feel fine until you go down into the gallery to make a cup of tea or help prepare dinner. Then the confined space, the lack of air and constant motion can be the thing that sends you over the edge. If you feel it coming on – get out of the galley and go on deck as soon as possible.
8. Have a Fizzy Coke
One of the main symptoms of seasickness, nausea, can be alleviated by the carbonated water found in a can of the red stuff. The sugars found in the drink, although not great for the everyday diet, also help to replenish your body with nutrients and energy. Go on – this is the time to treat yourself.
9. Pressure Points
Traditional Chinese medicine has provided answers to many of life’s ailments and seasickness is just one area it can help with. Just on the inside of your wrist is a spot called the “P6” and putting pressure on this spot apparently eases the nausea. You will find using simple pressure bands at your local pharmacist that will alleviate symptoms of nausea. Got to be worth trying.
10. Be Sick
Better in than out they say. The feeling of nausea comes from the chemicals your body produces to force you to get rid of toxins (by being sick). Once you have been sick, it rewards you with high levels of dopamine for getting rid of the nasties. Throw up and you’ll be ready to conquer those waves again.
None of the above tips are guarantees against seasickness, and even the most seasoned sailors may find that their legs wobble from time to time. It’s important to remember that even if seasickness does strikes, it won’t last for your whole voyage – everyone does get over it eventually – your body just has to adapt.
Originally posted on 1 July 2016.