Any type of unusual motion can cause
seasickness, such as wave action in bad weather or high
Each person’s pattern of symptom
onset is somewhat different, but it is usually
repeatable. Generally the first symptoms are yawning
and drowsiness, then abnormal fatigue and lethargy, but if
you already are tired from standing watch these symptoms
can go unrecognized. For many people, the first
obvious symptoms can go unrecognized. For many
people, stomach awareness and slight cold sweating are
the first noticeable symptoms.
As symptoms advance, stomach awareness
turns to nausea, the face becomes pale, particularly
around the nose and mouth, and hands and face become cold
and clammy. Belching, salivating and flatulence are
common. Concentration on mental tasks becomes
difficult. Eventually nausea comes in waves, and
increases in uncontrolled crescendo leading almost
inevitably to vomiting. Subsequent attacks of
vomiting typically develop with less warning than the
Seasickness usually quiets down as soon
as the motion stops. The more you travel, the more easily
you will adjust to being in motion.
- if practical, stop or minimize motion by slowing
down, anchoring, or docking.
- sometimes a small course change can change the
amplitude and frequency of the boat’s motion in
the waves, often with miraculous results.
- if you sense the onset of seasickness
(light-headedness, nausea), move out of enclosed cabin
areas to the middle of the ship, or the cockpit.
- take an anti-motion sickness medication, if you
have not done so already.
- focus on the horizon or on a distant, stationary
- keep your head still, while resting against a seat
- if you have experience as a helmsman, take the
wheel and steer by reference to oncoming waves, the
horizon, clouds and distant sails.
- do not read.
- do not smoke or sit near smokers.
- eat dry crackers or drink a carbonated beverage to
help settle your stomach if you become ill.
- replace nutrients after repeated vomiting. If
you don't eat and drink because you feel nauseous,
eventually you will become weak, confused and
eventually incapacitated. Your breath will smell
like acetone. To prevent this, force yourself to
eat and drink (broth, saltines and candy, for instance)
frequently in small amounts. It won’t all
stay down, but your net loss of fluid, glucose and
electrolyte due to vomiting will be much reduced.
The key to effective prevention is to
recognize and react to your earliest symptoms.
- avoid spicy and greasy foods and alcohol.
- do not overeat.
- take an over-the-counter seasickness medication,
such as Gravol or Dramamine. at least 30 to 60 minutes
before you travel. Expect drowsiness as a side
- consider a scopolamine transdermal patch, available
by prescription. Take several hours before you
plan to travel. Apply the patch behind your ear
for 72-hour protection. Scopolamine can cause
pupil dillation for many hours, so be careful not to
transfer the medication to your eyes. Consult
your doctor before using the medication if you have
health problems such as asthma, glaucoma or urine