There are two types of people in this world; the type who get chronically seasick and the type who don’t. Unfortunately, I fall into the first camp and have been known to get seasick without even leaving the marina. Until recently I relied on seasick remedies for every sail and the idea of living aboard was straight-up laughable.
When we decided to go cruising, beating sea sickness was my biggest concern and to be fair, I haven’t completely nailed it. However, remedies aside, I have learned some valuable lessons that might make your sea sickness battle a little easier.
Not All Sea Sickness is the Same
Sea sickness doesn’t always involve throwing up in a bucket. For me, sea sickness is more like the world’s worst migraine. My head aches, my skin gets hot and clammy, and it hurts to keep my eyes open. Occasionally I get nauseous, but when I do, it’s not the symptom that causes me the most angst.
When you understand that not all sea sickness is the same, it makes it easier to hunt out remedies that work for you. It’s also easier to explain to friends why their well-meaning suggestions don’t work. Telling me to watch the horizon is like putting hot pokers in my eyes!
Listen to Fellow Seasick Sufferers
When you suffer from chronic sea sickness, it seems that everyone is an expert. People will want to give you advice all the time; especially people who have never been seasick. Make sure you nod, smile and thank people for their suggestion, but know that chronic sea sickness is not fixed by squeezing lemon on your temples or downing a cup of ginger tea. These things may help people who are feeling a little bit off, but if you get seasick before leaving the marina, you’re in a whole other camp.
People who suffer (or who have suffered) from chronic sea sickness tend to give the best advice, because there’s a good chance they’ve tried what they’re recommending. They will have experimented with timing and dosages, and they’ll let you know if any side effects are worth it. While everyone responds to remedies differently, at least chronic seasick sufferers can give you some first-hand feedback.
Go Easy on Yourself
I’m surrounded by people who never get seasick, so at my worst I felt pretty stupid most of the time (especially if someone suggested it was ‘all in my head!’). I would set myself up for a sail, determined to stay well, and then I would beat myself up when I got sick. Once I took the pressure off and decided it was okay to get seasick, so much of the anxiety disappeared.
Take Baby Steps
Like it or not, you’re not going to cure your sea sickness overnight, so be prepared to take baby steps. When we first started living aboard, I took seasick tablets for the first week or so, then slowly reduced the dose until I could cope (yes, in the marina) without any medication.
Once I had that nailed I assumed I was good to go, but that was only the first step. I still needed tablets while sailing in the harbour, and I needed both a patch and tablets when we did any kind of passage making. It’s been a long process, but I can now sail the harbour with ease and only need half a patch on a passage. We are getting there!
Mix It Up
As you start finding your sea-legs, you might want to re-visit some of the remedies that didn’t work for you the first time around. While natural remedies didn’t work for me originally, they’re now useful for days when I’m feeling just a little bit off. I still wouldn’t rely on them for a rough passage, but they’re a gentle alternative on calmer days. Eventually I’ll post a list of all the things I’ve tried, but my real advice is to try everything and see what works for you!
While I still suffer from sea sickness on a rough day, I definitely have it under control and I know how to manage it when it hits. Give yourself some time and use remedies for as long as you need to. I promise you’ll get it under control eventually.