As “crossing season” is fully upon us, I’ve been getting a few questions about sea sickness. Honestly, one of the first questions people ask me when they find out about our sailing adventure is, “Did you get sea sick?” Yet, they always look surprised when I immediately answer, “Yes.”
The truth is that sea sickness was always a big concern of mine starting way back before this sailing journey was even an idea. I’ve always been prone to motion sickness, getting sick during road trips and on the tea cups ride at Disney. It was never a matter of if i was going to get sick – that was inevitable – but more of a matter how I was going to manage it.
My line of the defense during road trips of the past had always been to throw back a few Dramamines and call it a day. Only problem with this plan is that Dramamine knocks me out. Like, out for 6 hours and still wake up drowsy. Clearly this wasn’t going to cut it. I needed a new solution.
My research consisted mostly of talking to other cruisers over sundowners, but these men and women had miles and miles of cruising under their belts! And, hey, who am I to argue with fully researching a topic as important as trying not to throw up every time we pull anchor?
I can honestly say that I have tried pretty much everything. Below is an account of what worked and didn’t work for me. Battling seasickness is personal and what may work from one sea sick sailor does not mean it will work for another. Most remedies are best when used as preventative tactics as opposed to once sickness has already settled in
1 Staying hydrated and full: This is the first “trick” I learned. When our friend Tonia from the Beautiful Nation Project taught me how to sail, her pep talk simply involved making sure I drank enough water and ate enough food. Things start to break down when you are not properly nourished. This tactic alone worked perfectly for our first sail, not so great other times. But, this is a good general life tactic, so I try to abide by it.
2 Drinking an Emergen-C: I’m not sure where I read this nugget of a suggestion, but I immediately bought a Costco-sized supply of Emergen-C. I had enough Vitamin-C onboard for the off chance I would never again encounter an orange. I’m not really sure it helped at all but given my supply levels I drank this stuff as often as possible. Super Orange Emergen-C and rum anyone? I kid (although, now I’m curious)
3 Ginger Gum: Ginger has long been an all natural remedy for motion sickness. When you start to feel a little off, pop a piece and get chewing. This worked for mild cases, but wasn’t really a good solution for more extreme cases or long term sails.
4 The Patch: I loaded up on these guys while I still had insurance as you need a prescription to get ahold of them. The idea is that you stick on a tiny patch behind your ear, leave it there for 3 days and don’t throw up. The simplicity seemed to have been lost on me because during my first trial of the patch I spent approximately 26 of our 30 hour crossing with my head over the side of our boat. (see the beauty shot above? Not my best look.) So, who wants my left over patches?
5 Stugeron: Like all good stories, this one started over cocktails. I was speaking with a seasoned British sailor who had spent much time aboard her sailboat in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Apparently there was this miracle pill called Stugeron that wasn’t available in the states. The minute I got to an island that had a drug store (which I believe was the 6th island we visited), I picked up a supply of this stuff. This stuff is awesome. The second you can find it, buy it. Even if you don’t get sea sick. Your guests will thank you. The first picture in this post is of me happily cruising along from Nassau to the Berries thanks to Sturgeron.
6 Motioneaze: This is an all natural herbal remedy that you dot on behind your ears. Once it soaks in (about 10 minutes) you are good to go. Our friend Lisa on SV Windfall told me about this. She keeps it on board for all her charters and it is always a crowd pleaser. I also read this works for pets! This product worked well for me, but was generally used as a supplement for Stugeron.
7 Wearing an earplug in your non-dominant ear: I’m right handed. The idea is that I would put an earplug in my left ear to even out the imbalance of my inner ear. This was supposed to make me feel less likely to vomit. This has proven very successful for some cruisers, but it didn’t really do much for me. You also have the side effect that I only had one ear available for hearing Jason. Or, is that a benefit? (I joke!)
So all you unfortunate seasick cruisers, what have you found to work for you? How do you keep the cruising dream alive and vomit free?