Avoiding Seasickness Aboard

The Top Ten

In general, few people suffer from the symptoms of seasickness- nausea, dizziness, vomitting- when sailing on the protected Staits of Georgia or BC's interior lakes. For those that do suffer the symptoms of this form of motion sickness, being on the water can be very uncomfortable and in most cases be avoided when you take some steps  to prepare

If you haven't been to sea before, better be safe than sorry and take preventative measures.

Over the past 14 years at the VSC we have had 100% success with our students eating ginger root (candied, pickled and/or tea) the day before sailing. These natural food items can be found at most grocery marts and aboard our Charter Yachts as standard provisioning. Plan to take it for two days before your first day of the sailing adventure/course. 

Always let your Skipper know if you are experiencing the symptoms of seasickness. He needs to know early if he is going to be able to help you.

The following tips can help you prevent or lessen the severity of common symptoms-  dizziness and nausea:

  1. Watch your consumption of foods, drinks, and alcohol before  you come aboard. Avoid excessive alcohol and foods or liquids that "do not agree with you" or make you feel unusually full. Heavy, spicy, or fat-rich foods may worsen motion sickness in some people.
  1. Avoiding strong food odors may help prevent nausea.
  1. Try to sit in the middle of the boat where you will experience the least motion.  On a ship, those in lower level cabins near the center of a ship generally experience less motion than passengers in higher or outer cabins. On a Beneteau First 36.7 sit in the cockpit and side deck to windward
  1. Do not sit facing astern, look forward most of the time on deck
  1. Avoid going below unless necessary while underway 
  1. Do not attempt to  read while underway- make sure your Sail Plan and navigation is completed before you head out each day. 
  1. It helps to keep your gaze fixed on the horizon or on a fixed point.
  1. If it is necessary for you to be down below deck, ask your Skipper if he can open a hatch for a source of fresh air if possible- IMPORTANT- do not open a hatch while underway unless you get the permission from your Skipper
  1. Stay away from others who may be suffering from sea sickness. Hearing others talk about seasickness or seeing others becoming ill can make you feel ill yourself.
  1. The over-the-counter medications  meclizine (Bonine, Antivert, Dramamine) can be a very effective preventive measure for mild cases of sea sickness. Your doctor also may choose to prescribe medications for longer trips or if you repeatedly develop severe seasickness. One example of a prescription medication is a patch containing scopolamine (Transderm-Scop) that often is effective in preventing motion sickness.  
We have had very few people suffer the symptoms of "Mal de Mare" because of the design of our Beneteau First yachts used in many of our courses and all of our C&Ls. The fundamental reasons are the balance of a deep fine bow and broad abeam & aft. A fine (narrow) bow cuts through waves avoiding the " hobbyhorse over the wave" motion,  creating a much smoother sailing experience.
Also, we have found that popular charter Cruising Catamarans like the Sunsail 384,40. 44, Lagoon 40,45 & 52,  Nautitech Open 40, and FP Lavezzi 40, 45 have much greater stability and heel far less than monohulls. Catamarans are often the best choice for inexperienced groups and family sailing.
Let us know if you need help planning your Cruise & Learn, we look forward to helping you

Carl Richardson, Offshore Sailing Master Instructor at VSC



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