Select Page

Seasickness is a common problem at sea and affects both seasoned sailors and novices. What are the causes and symptoms of seasickness? How can you prevent seasickness and what medications can you take?

It can take time to acclimatise to a boat moving around beneath you when you are at sea. This is especially so in rough weather, where there is usually a lot of pitching and rolling involved. In this post we look at the symptoms and causes of seasickness, how we prevent it and what medications to take. Some people find their bodies are able to cope with the continual motion and soon get used to the sensation; when this happens this is known as finding your sea legs. Others find it takes them longer to adjust. They continue to feel unsteady on their feet and may begin to feel queasy. This can develop into seasickness, where the sufferer can be unwell for several days if they remain at sea. 

What are the symptoms of seasickness?

The symptoms include dizziness, cold sweats, headaches, pale skin, increases in saliva and vomiting. In acute cases, sufferers will become weaker, dehydrated and generally more debilitated.

What are the causes of seasickness?

Seasickness is caused when the balance sensor in your inner ear sends different signals to your brain from those your eyes are seeing, in the same way as car sickness occurs. This mismatch of signals confuses the brain and makes you feel unwell.

How to prevent seasickness

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help prevent you suffering from seasickness:

  • Some crews always take seasickness pills before going sailing. Others take seasickness pills if rough weather is forecast.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before you go sailing.
  • Avoid eating greasy, acidic and spicy foods.
  • Eat light meals. Include ginger and peppermint in your diet, which are both natural remedies for seasickness.
  • Don’t read books or use electronic devices – reading at sea can quickly lead to feelings of nausea.
  • Watch the horizon – the horizon always remains stable and your eyes, inner ear and brain won’t get confused with each other if you keep checking the horizon. 
  • Take the helm – helming really helps reduce the feeling of nausea. Have you ever felt car sick when driving? No, most likely.  
  • Wear seasickness wristbands. Note these work better for some people than others. 
  • In severe cases, the best thing to do is to lie down and make sure you keep hydrated.

Medications for seasickness

There are several types of drug available for seasickness. These include antihistamines and anticholinergics. One of the most popular antihistamines is Stugeron and we recommend its use. However, while Stugeron is effective it can make you feel drowsy and dry mouthed. It is best to take seasickness pills as a preventative medicine, so if you are prone to seasickness, this is advised.

Tips:

  • Each person is different. Some remedies work better for an individual than others, so it is worth trying everything on offer until you find a remedy that works for you.
  • If you are suffering, don’t keep it to yourself. Your skipper and crewmates should be sympathetic and will be ready to help.

Keel maintenance and Repair – Part 2

If you have ever witnessed a boat colliding with a rock or other submerged obstacle you will know that there is an almighty thump and the whole boat shakes and judders. While such hard groundings seldom result in catastrophic keel failure, something has to give and even the sturdiest keels can easily be damaged by such an impact.

How to predict wind direction and strength by reading a weather chart

Weather charts, also known as surface pressure or synoptic charts, contain a lot of information that helps weather...

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 3

Antifouling is one of the least pleasant boat maintenance jobs to do, but it has to be done. The very worst job of all is removing the old antifouling as this can get seriously messy and is very hard work.

Sending distress signals

In an emergency situation at sea, it is a top priority is to know how to send and receive emergency radio calls and alert others of your predicament. Likewise, if you receive a distress signal, you must be ready to go to the help of others.

Boatyard Health and Safety

Boat storage facilities are potentially hazardous environments and it is the responsibility of both boat owners and boatyards to ensure that the...

Stern gear maintenance

The stern gear of a boat needs to be checked carefully when the boat is ashore as this is something that can only be done when it is out of the water. The same applies for any maintenance and repairs that may need doing, so it is best to check it all over as soon after an end of season lift out as possible.

Steel hull maintenance

A steel boat owner’s biggest enemy is corrosion. You don’t have to worry about osmosis or rotting timbers, instead rust is the number one issue that will keep you awake at night.

Essential Boat Buying Tips for First-Time Boat Owners

The first question that comes to mind when thinking about buying a boat is: what type of boat? There are more than 20 different kinds, of different sizes, for different purposes, and different pockets. So, your first step is to decide your boat type.

ColRegs when sailing single handed

  Don’t neglect the Colregs when sailing single handed Sailing single-handed represents several challenges for skippers, not least how to...

Leaking decks

Leaking decks are perceived as a nuisance by some boat owners, but if leaks are ignored a much more serious situation may well be developing, especially in the case of boats with balsa or plywood deck cores. So deck leaks do need to be investigated and dealt with.

Cleaning & polishing gelcoat topsides

The gelcoat topsides of a GRP boat can be pampered and restored to their former glory relatively easily when it is ashore. Gelcoat is only a very thin outer layer of the hull, often less than 1mm thick, so you should avoid cleaning it with highly abrasive cleaners, or an-ything that could potentially damage its surface.

Preparing for sailboat cruising

Preparing for a sailing trip entails a lot of planning. In this blog, we take a look at some of the many safety aspects that a skipper needs to consider before heading off on a cruise.

Sailing at the touch of a button

Easier and more controlled sail handling can also be achieved by powering up a furling mast. I came across some interesting solutions at the Southampton Boat Show this week on the Selden Mast stand, where they were running demos of their E40i electric winch and SMF furling system.

Wooden Hulls – Part 2

It is important to ensure the essential hull maintenance of a wooden boat is done, even if you are paying others to look after your boat for you. The priority is to prevent rot from taking hold. The protective layers of paint and varnish over wood are far more critical than on GRP boats, where the topsides are painted more for cosmetic reasons.

Fractures, sprains and dislocations at sea

Moving about a boat at sea often results in a few knocks and bruises, but if a crew member has a fall or major bump and is in serious pain, they should be examined and treated accordingly.

Keel design – options to consider when choosing a yacht

Keel design is constantly evolving and nowhere is this more apparent than in modern racing yachts such as the Imoca Open 60...

Seized fixings and fastenings

Maintaining a boat can be a rewarding experience but at times it can also be frustrating. A prime example of this is when you come across a seized fixing or fastening that refuses to budge. Read our tips on how to release and fix them:

Fire safety advice at sea from the Marine & Coastguard Agency

Fire safety advice for boaters Top fire safety advice at sea: 1. Fit smoke alarms, carbon monoxide and gas detectors 2. Turn...

Steel and Aluminium Hulls

The two metals used for hull construction are steel and aluminium. These are both very strong materials and will last a long time as long as they are cared for, which primarily means protecting steel boats from rust and aluminium boats from electrolytic action.

Competent crew skills: mooring lines

Mooring lines are used when arriving or leaving a berth. One of the most important competent crew skills is to know how to...

Engine failure at sea – keeping the boat safe

If the engine stops when you are underway, or your have to shut it down when a warning buzzer sounds, you also need to make sure the boat remains safe. It’s important therefore to recognise situations in which the boat would be immediately put in danger if the engine were to fail.

Marine diesel exhaust checks

You should inspect the exhaust system for corrosion damage regularly, especially around the injection bend. If you have noticed the engine exhaust smoking a lot during the sailing season this can also indicate a number of potential problems.

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Part 7 – Motivation

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the seventh of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first-hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

ColRegs Rule 14 – Head-on Situation

  ColRegs Rule 14: Head-on Situation (a) When two power-driven vessels are meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal...

Getting a tow for your sail or power boat at sea or on inland waterways

FREE tips from the Safe Skipper App for iPhone/iPad/Android: Getting a tow for your sail or power boat Plan how to secure a...