Seasickness occurs when a boats rocking movement causes conflicting motion information to be sent to the brain resulting in nausea and vomiting. The balance organ in the inner ear is responsible for passing this movement information to the brain to help it maintain body position and balance. Some people are more susceptible to seasickness than others, but, given the right circumstances anyone can become seasick.
Steps you can take to avoid the severity of seasickness
- Prior to departure. Avoid heavy meals and alcohol; increase your water intake to 2-3 litres per day; start appropriate medication at least 24 hours before departure (Kwells, Ginger Tea, Berroca and Vitamin C)
- Whilst underway. Maintain a steady fluid intake, even if you are feeling fine; eat small amounts of food regularly such as, crackers and crystalised ginger; minimise time below deck. Don’t’ go below to cook or do some chart work. Staying in fresh air helps.
- If you start to feel queasy take the helm and steer the boat. Fix your gaze on the horizon, on shorelines, clouds or the stars, to provide you with a stable reference point.
- Dress appropriately, wear more clothing than you need rather than less. Feeling cold or too hot can make your feel worse.
- Have a 2 litre plastic container with a tight lid or strong paper bags on board which can be used on deck and below for those going to vomit. Keep hydrating. Prolonged vomiting can cause dehydration, anxiety, confusion and shock.
- Be positive and believe in a rapid recovery. In most cases boaters recover from the effects of seasickness in 1-3 days. The more you go boating the easier it should get!
Skippers remember, the responsibility for the safety of your vessel doesn’t go away if you’re seasick. A continual watch for hazards, other vessels, navigation and weather monitoring must be maintained. Helping others get over seasickness as quickly as possible must be the focus and responsibility of all on board. If seasick crew or passengers ask to be left alone, saying they don’t feel like drinking or eating anything. Stay with them. Leaving them alone is a mistake as it is important to ensure they keep sipping fluids and regularly eating small amounts. If you are concerned head home or radio for assistance.