Coping With Seasickness
By Trish Lambert
I don’t get seasick in the way we usually think of that particular malady. I have never tossed my cookies over the lee rail of a moving boat. Still, I do get queasy in certain conditions. I remember feeling pretty green once when I was trying to work at the nav table while we were motoring downwind; the diesel fumes coming over the stern combined with the movement of the hull made it hard for my brain to make sense of the chart, and I didn’t stay below for long.
I always feel “punky” for the first three days of an offshore trip. Not necessarily nauseous-but definitely below par. This is pretty common; pretty much every sailor I of my acquaintance knows that it takes three days to get into the groove of ocean motion. Even folks who suffer from full-on seasickness get over it once their bodies have acclimated, which takes-you guessed it-about three days.
I find it interesting that many sailors of my acquaintance get seasick, and that the malady has not stopped them. The call of the sea is strong enough for them to medicate themselves, go through whatever discomforts they experience, and plan passages to allow their subpar performance for the first few days. Frankly, if I suffered the full green-ness of motion sickness, I don’t know if the siren song of the sea would be even remotely irresistible. So my sunhat is off to my cruising friends who sail in spite of the ailment.
Even if, like me, you don’t get seasick, you have most likely entertained guests on board who did. Therefore, it’s a good idea for any of us who like to be aboard boats to know the best strategies for fending off or at least minimizing the discomfort for our guests if not for ourselves.
Here, then, are some tips for dealing with boat-related tummy rumblings. These are by no means scientific-more like rules of thumb.
- Prepare meals in advance for whatever length of time is appropriate. Have sandwiches, drinks, and finger foods readily available so that you don’t spend much time in the galley.
- As a preventive measure, think ginger. The stuff really does help with seasickness. Pick your favorite: ginger ale or beer, ginger snaps, crystallized ginger, pickled ginger or (for the strong of heart) a slice of fresh ginger under the tongue. Start eating it the night before you set sail.
- Stay on deck. It may seem like a good idea to go below and curl up on a bunk, but this is the worst thing to do. Stay outside, and, if possible, sit or stand where you can get the wind in your face and where you can focus on the horizon.
- Better yet, take the helm. Not only will you get the wind in your face, and have to focus on the horizon, you will have something to do to keep your mind off your stomach.
- Make an effort to delay the initial “tossing of cookies” as long as possible. Once begun, the body has a tendency to continue.
- Keep yourself hydrated. Though the idea of ingesting anything might be extremely unattractive, you need to avoid adding dehydration to your problems. Drink small amounts of water regularly to offset loss of fluids.
Of course, drugs figure prominently in the seasickness equation, whether for prevention or treatment. While there are any number of over-the-counter as well as prescription treatments, this is a subject best discussed with a pharmacist or physician.
Trish Lambert ( http://www.successinsweatpants.net ) has been a cruising sailor for over twenty-five years and a first mate three times, with three different skippers and three very different cruising styles. She knows first hand what makes cruising successful, and what she has to share may surprise you! Whether you are a skipper or first mate, a singlehander or part of a cruising couple, sail boater or power boater, Trish has insights that will help make your cruising dream a reality.
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