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.

The give-way hierarchy at sea – who gives way to whom?

Whatever their size or type, all skippers have a responsibility to avoid collisions with other boats at sea.  It is...

An explanation of the IALA maritime buoyage systems – IALA A and IALA B

What are the differences between the two IALA buoyage systems, IALA Region A and IALA Region B, and where are they used?   As recently as the 1970s...

Common marine electrical problems

Most problems with marine electrical systems arise from four possible sources, a lack of maintenance, a poor standard of initial installation, insufficient battery capacity, or ineffective charging systems.
Water ingress is a frequent issue – salt water can corrode contacts very quickly. If connections are not scrupulously clean – or are loose – resistance will be increased, resulting in progressively reduced power.

Hull inspection – the annual checks

With the boat ashore for the winter it is time to do a hull inspection - the annual checks. Are there any scratches and chips in the...

Essential Knots: Reef knot

Essential Knots: Reef knot Use: Tying two ends of rope together, often used for tying up a bundle of loose sail around the boom. Step...

Passage planning and pilotage

Passage planning and pilotage help skippers navigate safely from one port to another. A passage plan takes into account all...

How a propeller works

Have a look around any boatyard and you will notice quite a variety of propellers – some have two blades, some have three and others have four or more. While most propellers are completely rigid some have blades that fold.

Keel maintenance and repair – Part 1

Keels are designed to act as underwater foils that generate lift as the boat moves through the water, counteracting the leeward force of the wind and enabling the boat to sail closer to the wind. Keel maintenance and repair is essential for the performance of your boat.

Marine engine oil system maintenance

The regular maintenance of a marine diesel is key to preventing engine failure at sea. This means doing regular checks of the fuel, cooling, electrical and oil systems.

Dripless shaft seals

Dripless shaft seals are designed to completely stop water from entering a boat’s hull via the stern tube. There are two main types of dripless seals known as face seals and lip seals which many boat manufacturers now fit to production boats.

Diesel engine winterisation

An inactive boat engine needs to be protected from corrosion during the winter, caused by the rising humidity levels through the cold months and the salty coastal air. This applies whether the boat is left afloat or hauled out over the winter. Read here about the two important stages of winterisaton for a diesel boat engine.

Essential Knots: Clove hitch

Essential Knots: Clove hitch Use: Tying a rope to posts, bollards, rings or a guardrail. Step 1. Make a turn around the object and lay...

Wooden Hull Repairs

While wooden boat hull maintenance is mostly straightforward, it is always a good idea to take expert advice on any repair job needed doing to a wooden boat, unless you have done the job before and know what you are doing.

Boat engine basics

Boat engines come in all shapes and sizes and include inboards, outboards, petrol, diesel, electric and hybrid systems. Some engines are...

Boat maintenance below decks

While most interior maintenance work can be done when a boat is afloat, some jobs such as servicing the seacocks have to be done ashore. It makes sense to do any major interior repairs and improvements with the boat hauled out in the boatyard.

Cutless bearing replacement

Cutless bearings can last for many years but if the propeller shaft is out of alignment they will wear through more quickly. If you have noticed a clunking sound when motoring then it could be a worn cutless bearing that is causing the problem.

Gybing a sailing boat

Gybing is the sailing manoeuvre used to change a boat's direction through a following wind. As with the tacking manoeuvre,...

Essential Boat Safety Briefing

Skippers Responsibilities Skippers are obliged to give a safety briefing to the crew even if they are a regular crew. At...

Hourly Checks when sailing or motoring

  Hourly Checks Get into the habit of carrying out these checks and both yourself, your crew and your boat will be...

VHF DSC radio – how best to communicate at sea

There are many ways to communicate with others at sea. What makes the VHF DSC radio the best form of short range...

Wooden Hulls – Part 1

Traditional wooden boats have a plank on frame construction, a centuries old boat building method that is still in use today. Variations of the traditional method include carvel, clinker and strip planking, which all relate to the way the planking is attached to the frame.

Essential boat engine checklist

Boat engine checklist Engine oil level check Even if you have checked it previously, confirming the engine oil level is up...

Boat interior varnishing

Most boat interiors have a combination of varnished and painted surfaces including solid wooden joinery, plywood laminates with thin hardwood veneers and glass reinforced plastic. When making your assessment of what you are going to do, bear in mind that the varnishing process consumes a lot of time, especially if the existing surfaces are in poor shape.

Boat interior inspection and checks

While a boat is ashore, the most critical interior checks to carry out are those that concern the safety of the boat. This entails the integrity of all through-hull fittings and seacocks, the gas system and the electrical system.

A five day sailing cruise of the Solent, UK

Welcome to our virtual Solent sailing cruise – a five day sail in the south of England from Bosham Quay in Chichester...