6 tips to help manage seasickness

6th April 2021 Jessica Watson

You do meet the occasional person who claims never to have known the horror of seasickness but I tend to subscribe to the theory that anyone will turn green in a big enough sea, in a small enough boat! I’ve had plenty of not overly pleasant experiences with seasickness. I’m hoping that I’ve been cured for life but doubt that I’ll be quite that lucky. I’m sure a few years fully land-bound would put me back to square one. 

It takes varying amounts of time for different people to shake seasickness and find their sea legs. Some find that they are cured after the first night while others take a few more days. I’ve met very few people who were still sick after three days, so if you can grit and bear it for three days you’ll be fine. This can obviously be problematic, as many people don’t undertake voyages longer than three days!

Of course, many of these tips are simple and widely known but isn’t it the practical, boring advice that’s the most effective?

Eyes on the horizon

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Alternatively, many people find it useful to have something to concentrate on, such as helming.

Shut your eyes

Obviously this isn’t a great watch-keeping technique, but some find that cutting out one of your senses stops your brain from feeling quite so confused and lessens any nausea. When I’ve been sick I’ve found it very helpful to minimise the time between keeping my eyes on the horizon and keeping them shut in my bunk.

Medication

Whatever you do, test any anti-seasickness medication before setting sail as many of these drugs have the power to knock out an elephant. I actually wonder if the only effectiveness of some of these drugs comes from their ability to send you to sleep. Of course, those who suffer extra terrible seasickness will need to get medical advice on more powerful options.

Anti-nausea pressure bands

These are bands that are worn snugly on the pressure points on the underside of the wrists. While research and personal experience suggest that these can be quite helpful, worst case scenario they’ll act as a great placebo with no risk of side effects.  

Ginger and vitamin C

Ginger and vitamin C tablets are readily available, and I know plenty of people who have found both helpful. Or there’s ginger cookies and ginger beer, which comes with a sparkle and helpful sugar hit.

Get your head in order

Although seasickness is most certainly a physical reaction, there is also an element to seasickness that is mental. Lots of negative talk and repetitively listening to bad weather forecasts is almost guaranteed to make you sick. But I actually prefer to believe it’s going to be terrible, strap on my tough attitude and then get out there and be pleasantly surprised. So have a think about what might work for you and share your mental plan with fellow crew members.

Hydration

I’m sure you’re actually rolling your eyes at the simplicity of this tip, but I’ve included it because I still see many disobey this golden rule. And I can understand why: drinking water that’s going to come straight back up isn’t a lot of fun, but it’s your responsibility to look after yourself as well as possible. Slowly and consistently sipping water is the best approach, and I’m told sucking ice cubes is great for those lucky enough to have a freezer or icemaker on board!