Avoid Sea Sickness
Cause and Avoidance!

Its best to avoid sea sickness because when it’s a mild case its bad enough … in its worst case it can give you a feeling of wanting to die!!

If you are planning sailing holidays this year there are some things you should know!

Around 90% of all people suffer from some type of motion sickness at some stage in their lives.

I can testify that it makes you feel miserable, very unco-ordinated and embarrassed....

I know; ‘cause I’ve been there, I've been motion sick... and I’m a sailor! 

In saying that I have been across oceans on voyages of several weeks and never felt sick so the questions are; how to avoid sea sickness, what causes it, and how to prevent it?

Cause of Sea Sickness:


It is caused by a mismatch of the information from your eyes and ears a reaction to your bodies inner ear balance system to the unfamiliar motion of the yacht.

Forward motion combined with up and down motion, or side to side motion causes this illness. Your inner ear regulates balance, and when you get contradictory signals, your brain gets disoriented, causing nausea.

  • Inner ears monitor the directions of motion in three dimensions.
  • Our eyes observe where our body is in relation to its surroundings as well as the direction of motion.
  • Skin pressure receptors such as those located in the feet and seat sense in what direction the gravitational pull affects our body, in other words: what side is up?
  • Muscle and joint sensory neural receptors report which parts of the body are in motion and in which relative direction. 

Symptoms of Sea Sickness:

  • Become pale and start to sweat.
  • Become light headed.
  • Stomach ache.
  • Hyperventilation.
  • Panic and confusion.
  • Headache, lethargy and nausea. 

The nauseous feeling eventually becomes uncontrollable, and leads to - sometimes violent - vomiting.

After vomiting you can actually feel better for a time but it can hit again especially after eating or going ‘below,’ into the cabin.

Avoid sea sickness after casting off:


To avoid sea sickness and enjoy your day or voyage while sailing, start taking precautions the day before going out on a boat!

  • Do not drink alcohol or really limit your consumption.
  • Avoid spicy, fatty and rich food.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get a good nights sleep
  • And investigate the remedies and be prepared. 


Avoid sea sickness by not going below deck for extended periods of time, reading or studying charts as much as it is possible.

I do my major chart plotting and put ‘way points’ in my GPS before casting off so as to limit heavy study till I have my ‘sea legs’.

It is often easier to prevent and avoid sea sickness than to cure. Most remedies need to be taken a couple of hours before sailing. And different remedies work better for different people; you may need to try a few to determine which is best for you.

  • Steering - as well as studying the horizon works and will help to anticipate the boat's motion.
  • Sit in a part of the boat with the least motion if you’re not taking part in sailing.
  • Fresh air helps, even the wind in your face and take deep breaths.
  • Focus your attention on a fixed point on the horizon to put your eyes and balance back in synch.
  • Drink plenty of water do not get dehydrated.
  • Eat light meals and avoid getting hungry.
  • Take one of the anti seasickness drugs before you get sick (they are not effective if taken after you feel sick.) 


Remember to check with your doctor to make sure that any remedy does not conflict with medication you are currently taking.

Medication for Sea Sickness:

Dramamine and Bonine are two of the most common seasickness drug remedies that in a lot of countries can be sold over-the-counter at pharmacies.

They are essentially antihistamines, and make many people drowsy. This is not a desired effect if you have responsibilities in sailing or navigating not to mention the enjoyment of the voyage, but you can get both these drugs in non-drowsy formulas.

Scopolamine patches, worn behind the ear like a tiny band-aid, are a common prescription drugs for seasickness. Scopolamine also comes in pill form.

Best advise is talk to your doctor first!

Natural Remedies for Sea Sickness:

Ginger is a common herbal remedy and eating shortbread biscuits or dry bread can help a little. 


There are sea sickness bracelets nausea bands that provide a type of acupressure for relief from it. There is a point about an inch and a half above your wrist on the underside of the arm where the wrist band applies pressure.

Some scientific studies have found that these bands have no effect on motion sickness. But many people swear by the wrist bands and they sell in large numbers.

The sick feeling often disappears within a few days, even without treatment. The brain finally adjusts to this new environment, and the sufferer gets his or her ‘sea legs.’

Don’t let the dread of it spoil the enjoyment of going cruising, investigate and learn what works for you and like any sickness seek medical help if it persists and the normal over the counter remedies are ineffective. 

Overcome and avoid sea sickness and enjoy the cruising life!

Coping Seasickness     Family Holidays            The Cruising Life





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