Though I have been sailing since childhood, there is still one big menace every time I leave the harbour: Will I get seasick, or will everything be fine this time? Sea sickness is a dread for newbie sailors as well as for experienced Skippers.
Even Julius Caesar suffered from sea sickness
From the medical point of view, sea sickness is a kinetosis, which means „motion sickness“.
It´s not a phenomenon of our days: Cicero and Julius Caesar also wrote about „nausea“ (ship sickness) in their travel diaries. Even Lord Nelson, one of the most famous seamen of all times, fell sick from time to time. You see: Sea sickness
doesn´t only harm you – which may be no comfort to you, though…
Myths and legends
In the long story of people suffering from sea sickness, a lot of cures have been tried. In the old days, seamen used to treat seasickness with strychnine, chinine, cocaine or nitroglycerine. It´s also said that a mixture of fleabane, warmouth and onions was used to fight the “vacuum” in the stomach – none of these rather poisonous cures have endured until our days.
What to do?
It´s sad but it´s true: You will never be safe from sea sickness, no matter what you do. Scientists haven´t found a cure yet that cures sea sickness without severe side effects.
Dealing with seasick people also puts a lot of pressure on the crew: Some people suffer that badly that they literally need to be tied to the mast: They would rather die than stand this terrible feeling any longer.
People who only get sea sickness from time to time may do some clever prevention in order to stay fit.
- First rule: Stay sober the evening before, and don´t smoke. Start your day with a good, yet not too greasy breakfast. A happy, active stomach is a good remedy against sea sickness.
- Second rule: Put warm clothes on. Getting cold gives stress to your body and may force sea sickness. Wearing something cosy and warm gives you more comfort. Put on a life jacket and see that a life belt can be grabbed at short notice if you need to lean over board to *erleichtern*.
- Third rule: Don´t go inside the boat while at sea. Staying in the cockpit, you can focus on the horizon which is pretty helpful. It also prevents you from kitchen or diesel smells that may come up inside the boat.
- Fourth rule: Don´t move your head too much. The best is to lean onto something stable that doesn’t vibrate.
- Fifth rule: If you notice the first signs of sea sickness (e.g. yawning), take the helm. Helming has some advantages: you have to concentrate, you stay warm and you are looking at the horizon
If you are getting seasick, ask your crew to hand over the life belt. Before you lean over board, make sure you are picked in so that you can´t fall into the water.
Medicine and alternative remedies
There is no classical medicine against sea sickness. Medicine wich contains Dimenhydrinate work well for most people. Take the remedy well ahead of your trip; at least 12 hours in advance.
Some homeopathic remedies like Cocculus LM12 are also believed to have a good effect, though there is no scientific proof.
Some people rely on Vitamin C, some on high doses of ginger. It´s worth giving it a try.
On the Internet, there are a lot of information on magnetic bracelets which are said to cure seasickness. Serious experts say that they only have effects on your wallet…
Finally, good news for you: The symptoms of sea sickness
hardly stay longer than 2 to 4 days…
Felix Wolf firstname.lastname@example.org
Felix Wolf is co-founder and owner of YachtBooker. He is a charter skipper himself and enjoys discovering new sailing areas.