How to Mitigate Motion Sickness and Seasickness on a Boat

Is It Possible to Prevent Seasickness on a Boat?

Millions of people suffer from motion sickness or seasickness (Mal de Mer) while on a boat, especially if they're not used to the water. Whether you're a passenger on someone else's boat or you're just interested in mitigating the seasickness of your own passengers, it pays to know the best strategies for preventing or minimising the effects of these afflictions.

Are Motion Sickness and Seasickness the Same Thing?

Throughout your life, you may have known people who have suffered from car sickness, seasickness, or air sickness. Car sickness is a feeling of nausea, combined with cold sweat and/or vomiting when traveling in a car. Seasickness and air sickness are similar phenomena that occur on a boat, and in a plane, respectively. But all of these phenomena are manifestations of the same condition: motion sickness.

What Is Motion Sickness on a Boat?

Motion sickness can affect anyone, but women and children are especially vulnerable to it. Typically, it occurs when a person's brain suffers from dissonance between different perceptions. For example, on a boat, your inner ears may detect that your body is rocking back and forth, due to the waves, but the relative stillness of the boat makes it appear as if you're standing still. This disconnect causes your brain to experience dissonance, which can result in a host of physical symptoms, including cold sweats, dizziness, fatigue, headache, irritability, difficulty concentrating, nausea, vomiting, pale skin, or even difficulty breathing.

You may be more likely to experience motion sickness if you have a family history of motion sickness, if you have an inner ear disorder, or if you suffer from migraines.

How to Mitigate Motion Sickness and Seasickness on a Boat

These are some of the best strategies that you can use to mitigate the effects of motion sickness on a boat:

  • Take antihistamines. Antihistamines are a special type of medication that’s commonly used to treat allergies, but many types of antihistamines also work to prevent or minimise motion sickness. These drugs block emetic H1-receptors, helping to minimise feelings of nausea. Just keep in mind that this only applies to antihistamines that cause drowsiness; non-drowsy formulas won’t work the same way.
  • Use scopolamine. Scopolamine can be used in the form of skin-adhered patches or orally ingested pills. Either way, this medication can effectively prevent nausea and vomiting associated with seasickness. Typically, users will stick a patch behind the ear at least four hours before traveling – so this is something you’ll need to plan in advance. A single patch can last for three days. If you take an oral pill, be aware that this medication can cause dry mouth. Also, not all medications are approved for children – so read labels closely and ask a doctor if you have any questions.
  • Change your perceptions. Because motion sickness is usually attributable to a mismatch between different things you perceive in your immediate surroundings, you can usually minimise the effects by changing your perceptions. For example, if you're on a large boat, you may be able to find relief by occupying a cabin in the centre of the vessel. This will prevent you from experiencing the worst effects of the waves while simultaneously preventing you from having aberrant visual perceptions. If you're on a smaller vessel, you may not have this option. A better strategy may be looking out to the distant horizon, staring at a fixed point that isn't going to move. Certain activities, like reading, can make motion sickness worse, so pay attention to how you respond to different activities and avoid any activities that worsen your symptoms.
  • Get fresh air. Sometimes, motion sickness is made worse by being trapped in an environment with stuffy air. On a boat, you'll have the advantage of getting plenty of fresh air; take deep breaths to make the most of it.
  • Drink more water. Staying hydrated can make you feel better, especially if you've experienced vomiting or sweating. Take small sips of water to keep yourself refreshed. If you experience significant dehydration, consider consuming a beverage with extra electrolytes (like a sports drink) to replenish what you've lost.
  • Eat mild, starchy foods. Before and during your journey, eat some mild, starchy foods like crackers or toast. Being on a totally empty stomach can make motion sickness worse, but eating heavy, fatty, or spicy foods can also make motion sickness worse. Experiment with a few different foods to see what works best for you.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco both have the capacity to worsen the effects of motion sickness. You should probably avoid these substances entirely if you experience motion sickness.
  • Lie down and close your eyes. If you feel overwhelmed by motion sickness symptoms, the best course of action may be lying down and closing your eyes. This will shut out most of your sensory experiences while giving your body an opportunity to relax. Try to practice meditative techniques and breathe deeply to get through your most difficult moments.
  • Apply pressure. Simple acupressure techniques are sometimes effective in mitigating the effects of seasickness. Applying pressure to a specific point on your wrist, for example, could help you feel near-immediate relief. Your results may vary.

Is Medical Intervention Necessary?

Should you see a doctor about your motion sickness? In most people, motion sickness symptoms are mild, and they disappear quickly after the motion is over. In other words, there's no cause for medical concern. But if you experience persistent vomiting even after the experience is over, or if you suffer from significant dehydration during the course of your motion sickness, it's a good idea to get a medical evaluation.

Motion sickness doesn't have to stop you from enjoying the great outdoors on your own vessel. If you're in the market for a new or used yacht, you’re in luck – TheYachtMarket has almost anything you can think of. But don't just take our word for it: check out our vast selection of vessels for sale today!

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