It’s something we’re asked about a lot. Here, our medical pursers Steph and Alan share their tips for dealing with and overcoming sea sickness. Don’t let it put you off coming on board…
Close your eyes and imagine the gentle but relentless up and down, up and down of a sailing ship, combined with the side to side movement that goes with the pitching and rolling. How are you feeling?
If the answer is queasy, don’t panic. Everyone (and we mean everyone) experiences seasickness at some point. It’s as normal as feeling a bit sick in a car. But a few simple steps will ensure that you don’t spend your voyage confined to your bunk. Boring!
It’s our job as medical pursers to deal with all medical matters on board – so we’ve seen our fair share. But don’t let it put you off experiencing one of our voyages. And if you’re already booked on a voyage, rest assured that our job is to make sure you’re feeling back to normal as quickly as possible.
What is sea sickness? Well it’s a head thing. Your eyes and ears are confused that the horizon isn’t moving, but your ears insist everything is moving. Your brain therefore gets confused; and the result is you’re rushing for the side.
They say there are three stages. You’re afraid of getting sick, you’re afraid you’re going to die, and then you’re afraid you won’t die after all! Seriously though and most importantly, don’t let this put you off.
What can you do about it? Safest thing if you’re feeling worried is to take a sea sick pill as soon as you’re onboard (first day or so is the worst, then it only gets better). These can make you a little sleepy so taking them the night before is even better.
Simple steps on the voyage also help:
– Fix your eyes forward and on the horizon that will never let you down. Breathe deeply but don’t overdo it. Stay on deck and get lots of fresh air.
– If it’s really bad lie down with your eyes closed, favourite track playing and headphones in place. Great excuse for downtime. Usually lying down helps to settle your stomach. When you have stopped feeling queasy (and you think they will stay in!) then you can take your tablets.
– Keep yourself busy and you’ll be unlikely to think about it. But stay away from the galley (especially at breakfast) and avoid the engine room. Wow look at that, you’ve just got off mess duty, again!
– Your watch leader and members will always help you in any way they can, we’ve all been there and we stick together.
If you’re on medication and aren’t sure what to take, we can give you advice – that’s what we’re there for. Or speak to your doctor or pharmacist before coming on.
Various drugs are available as there is no one size fits all. Ginger can help, if you don’t want a pill. If you know you’re seriously affected by it (so was Nelson), you can get a hyoscine patch from your doctor before we sail. With one behind your ear, you’re high and dry for 72 hours. But no mast climbing during the time and only use them if the doctor says so.
As a backup have some oral antihistamine. Cinnarizine is a popular one. Two tablets before travelling and one every 8 hours. Discuss it with your pharmacist who will advise you what is best for you regarding your medication.
David Wilkes has sailed with us several times and has experienced sea sickness. He says: “The medical pursers are there to help and from experience I promise you they never bat an eyelid.
“As someone who’s had a sicky at sea, and not wanted food I guarantee that it won’t spoil your life changing experience. We’re all in this together and we all look after each other. Happy sailing.”
Most of all have a truly fantastic voyage and don’t let the Sailor’s Bane put you off.