Straight Talk About Seasickness

By: Terry Gibson


Like any captain who cares, I know it’s on me to put my guests on fish, and I’m going to draw on every bit of experience to find the action.

But it’s on the anglers to make sure they enjoy an unforgettable experience -- not hours of sheer misery, due to seasickness. Please, please take this advice about preventing seasickness before you head offshore, even in calm conditions. We simply want you to have a great time on the waters of the Fishing Capital of the World, whether you’re fishing, diving or cruising.

Facts About Motion Sickness

Seasickness -- a form of motion sickness -- occurs when your brain receives conflicting information from the inner ear, eyes and skin receptors about motion and the body’s position in space. The body goes into an alarm mode that stops complex activities including the digestive process -- hence the nausea. In fact, the Greek word “nausea” originally meant “seasickness.”

Are you Vulnerable?

Almost everyone feels motion sickness symptoms until they've spent enough days offshore for the senses to get synchronized. If you suffer from motion sickness in other vehicles, you will almost certainly feel nauseous offshore, especially once the shoreline is out of sight. Even if you don't get motion sickness in planes or cars, a boat on a choppy sea is a whole ‘nother story.

Truth be told, I chummed the water every time I left the inlet until I was about 16. And we were raised surfing, snorkeling and fishing. One day the symptoms just stopped, never to return. But I know professional divers and sea captains who never get entirely used to it, and stay on preventative medications as long as they’re offshore. It depends upon your physiology and/or time spent offshore.

Riding in a big boat doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less vulnerable. In fact, it can mean quite the opposite, thanks to diesel fumes and longer, more exaggerated pitching and rolling.

Good Behavior

Consuming more than modest amounts of alcohol the night before or during your trip will dehydrate you, and make you more vulnerable. So will fatigue and hunger. Eat a healthy dinner and go to bed early the night before you head offshore. If you decide to take preventative medication, get the drugs into your system while you sleep.

Get up in time to eat a healthy breakfast, avoiding greasy foods. Take a trip to the head where you are staying. You want to get the digestive system working, and going below decks on the boat to use the bathroom is what most often triggers the mal de mere. If you are taking preventative medicines in oral form, take another dose with breakfast.

Once onboard, nibble on light, easy-to-digest things such as apples and small sandwiches throughout the day. Stay hydrated, and keep those digestive juices flowing. Buckets make excellent toilets offshore.

If the boat has a cabin, avoid it. Stay out in the fresh air, keep your eyes on the horizon and stay occupied with things, such as tending to lines.

If you do feel nauseous, go ahead and get the “chumming” done. You will feel better. And if it’s warm out and you are in a boat that makes it safe, swimming will help you feel much better. Drink a little ginger ale as well.

Preventative Drugs

In my experience, the Scopalamine Patches are almost 100-percent effective. But side effects include dry mouth. There are far more serious potential side effects. Consult your doctor. You will need a prescription for it, anyway. The patch lasts for several days. Apply it the night before.

Dramamine is the most common drug. It also can have side effects, including drowsiness. No prescription is required but you should speak to your doctor about using it especially if you have any health issues.

Bonine and Benadryl are antihistamines commonly handed out on cruise ships to prevent or alleviate seasickness.

For more information, click here.

Drug-Free Remedies

Some folks swear by eating ginger root, and some also attest to the efficacy of the Sea-Band wrist band that is supposed to work by pressing on the pressure point on the inside of your wrist.

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