Episode #015: Your Pocket Sailing Instructor Podcast: Seasickness

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This week I am diving into a much dreaded topic: seasickness! Arg. No one enjoys this one, but it must be discussed as it can GREATLY impact your boat! We will take a look at all facets of this lovely experience from definition, to prevention, to management!

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Definition of Seasickness

seasickness [ see-sik-nis ] – noun

nausea and dizziness, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, resulting from the rocking or swaying motion of a vessel in which one is traveling at sea.

Medical Explanation

Motion sickness: A disorder of the sense of balance and equilibrium and, hence, the sense of spatial orientation that is caused by repeated motion such as from the swell of the sea, the movement of a car, or the motion of a plane in turbulent air. Motion sickness is due to irritation of a portion of the inner ear called the labyrinth.

Source: https://www.medicinenet.com/motion_sickness/definition.htm

The Role of the Ears

Your inner ears, in particular, help control your sense of balance. They are part of a network called the vestibular system.

This system includes three pairs of semicircular canals and two sacs, called the saccule and the utricle. They send information about what’s going on around you to the brain.

The semicircular canals hold a fluid that moves with the turns of your head. The saccule and utricle are sensitive to gravity. They tell the brain whether you’re standing up or lying down.

The Role of the Brain

Your brain takes in all this data, and it usually comes together and makes sense. But sometimes your brain gets confusing signals.

On a flying plane, for example, you feel like you’re moving, but your eyes tell your brain that you don’t appear to be going anywhere. The opposite is true as well. After a long sea voyage, you can stand still on dry land but still feel like you’re moving.

The result is the same: motion sickness.

Source: https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/motion-sickness

Symptoms of Seasickness

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of balance
  • increase saliva production
  • loss of appetite
  • pale skin
  • sweating
  • tired
  • headaches
  • shallow breathing

Prevention – Pre-Trip

  • Relax. Try to avoid thinking or speaking about seasickness.
  • Stay organized. Know where the food is and know where your gear is.
  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol could create dehydration and confusion.
  • Cut out stimulants like sugar & coffee.

Prevention – During Trip

  • Don’t talk about it. I find when people start talking about seasickness, they start to feel seasick.
  • Start trip in daylight. Getting everyone acclimatized to the boat prior to a night shift is ideal.
  • Fresh air. Have meals and snacks prepared so you can be up on deck as mush as possible.
  • Helm. Watch the horizon, take the helm or focus on a job.

Natural Remedies

  • Ginger. Ginger root helps to fight nausea.
  • Mint. Mint also has calming effects on the body.
  • Acupressure. Wearing Sea-Bands or something similar may help relieve symptoms.
  • Medication. Gravol, Scopolamine patches or Dramamine may also help. Discuss with your doctor first, just in case!

In the end, don’t discount seasickness and assume it will never happen to you. Sometimes it can come on due to stress or nerves, so you never know! It is better to be prepared and ready to deal with what you need to deal with. Happy sailing!

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