How to Prevent Seasickness When on a Boat

Sailing boat

All it takes is a hint of seasickness to ruin your boating experience. And no matter how much boating experience you have, or how much you love the water, seasickness can affect you.

Fortunately, there are many strategies that can work to prevent seasickness from happening to you – and mitigate its effects once it begins to take hold.

What Is Seasickness?

First, it pays to know what seasickness is and how it manifests. Seasickness is an unpleasant sense of nausea (and possibly dizziness, headaches, and other effects) that ranges from mild to crippling. Generally, it’s considered to be a result of dissonance between the balancing mechanisms of your inner ear and the visual perception of your surroundings.

In other words, if the boat appears still while your inner ear detects motion, you may feel sick as a result. Environmental factors, like the smell of fish, could exacerbate symptoms as well.

Preventing Seasickness (and Helpful Remedies)

These tips can help stop seasickness from setting in:

  • Get plenty of rest. If you’re stuck on a cruise vessel and you’re feeling seasick, you may have trouble getting sleep – which can make matters even worse. Sleep deprivation tends to have a negative effect on seasickness, worsening your symptoms and/or making it more likely to occur. The day before you set sail, make sure you go to bed early and get a full night of sleep; it can make a big difference in what you ultimately experience on the vessel.
  • Review the weather. Before heading out, make sure to review the weather forecast. Storms, high winds, and turbulent waters all make boats rock more than usual. If you know you’re prone to seasickness and the weather looks particularly volatile, it may be in your best interest to reschedule. If you wait for a calm, peaceful day, you’ll have a much easier time managing your symptoms.
  • Plan your route and vessel carefully. Similarly, it’s a good idea to plan your route and your vessel carefully. Generally speaking, larger, more powerful vessels tend to be more resilient to seasickness than smaller, more chaotic ones. Some routes also offer calmer waters than others; you may want to avoid routes that lead you through choppy or tumultuous waters.
  • Take an antiemetic drug. Antiemetic medications are designed to prevent and treat nausea, reducing the symptoms of seasickness. There are several different types of drugs that fit this category, and many different brands for each of those types. For example, most antihistamines (which include brands like Dramamine and Bonine) are available over the counter, and you can pick them up at any drug store. However, if you want a stronger scopolamine drug, you’ll need to get a prescription. Either way, antiemetics can be taken as a preventative measure or in response to seasickness developing. Also, be aware that some types of antiemetic drugs can interact with other drugs or cause significant side effects; consult with a doctor before taking any.
  • Don’t be embarrassed. If you feel the symptoms of seasickness begin to emerge, try not to feel embarrassed. This is something that happens to a lot of people, and there’s no shame in it. Accepting the feeling can help you process it.
  • Look at the horizon. If you feel the symptoms of seasickness starting to come on in the cabin, head out to the deck and stare at the horizon. Remember, seasickness is at least partially attributable to a mismatch between what your inner ear is experiencing and what your eyes are seeing. If your eyes can more easily track the motion of your surroundings, some of your symptoms will fade. This is also a good way to get fresh air, making you feel more comfortable and relaxed as you process your symptoms.
  • Have a light snack. It may be counterintuitive to eat while you’re feeling nauseated, but research shows that having something in your stomach can make nausea symptoms much more tolerable. Having a totally empty stomach or a totally full stomach can make matters worse. Try to snack on foods that are gentle to your stomach, such as saltine crackers, and avoid any foods that might agitate your stomach, such as acidic or spicy foods.
  • Avoid alcohol. In line with this, avoid drinking alcohol. While it’s common for people to drink at sea to make the most of the relaxing experience, alcohol can upset your stomach and interfere with your perceptions at the same time. In other words, it’s probably only going to make things worse.
  • Get an acupressure wristband. Acupressure wristbands are devices that wrap around your wrist and apply pressure at specific points. Manufacturers claim that these special wristbands can relieve some nausea symptoms. Evidence on the subject is mixed; some people swear by them, while others claim they’re nothing more than an unproven marketing gimmick. They tend to be inexpensive, so if you’re a chronic sufferer of nausea and you’ve tried everything else, they’re well worth trying.
  • If you feel like throwing up, throw up. If you feel the urge to throw up, don’t try to fight it. Talk to a crew member or captain for guidance on the best location to do so; when you’re done, you’ll almost certainly feel better.
  • Distract yourself. You can also mitigate feelings of nausea by distracting yourself. Even simple exercises, like counting, can help take your mind off the seasickness.
  • Spend more time at sea. The more time you spend at sea, the more your body and mind will acclimate to the environment. Your seasickness may never fully go away, but it will definitely become more manageable.

At TheYachtMarket, we love boats. That’s why our platform is used by people all over the United States, UK and Europe for both buying and selling new and used vessels. Once you’ve got your seasickness under control, you can browse our selection of boats for sale to find the perfect vessel for you – or list your own boat for sale if you’re ready for an upgrade.

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