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Old 05-03-2008, 06:25   #1
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Can Someone Become Immune to Seasickness ?

This is a really basic question so I'm sorry if it has been answered already - the search interface on these forums is hard to manage.

I'm really keen to become crew on a cruiser, but right now I have pretty bad seasickness. we went out whale-watching on a launch on a pretty flat sea, and I was the only one of about forty that 'lost their lunch' as we say in NZ.
I'm interested in hearing how long it takes people to get over sea-sickness, (if ever) and how long it stays away for. Cheers!

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Old 05-03-2008, 06:56   #2
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Not really a basic question, as it defies an easy answer. Some take a day or two to "get their sea legs"; some only find relief with drugs; and an unfortunate few cannot escape the queasiness, no matter what they do or take. The CF runs a "motion sickness amelioration" programme - it was designed for pilot trainees to cope with airsickness, but a few navy pers with chronic mal-de-mer have taken the "spin and puke course." From what I've heard, very few people are ever "cured." Mostly it helps them recognize the onset of symptoms and develop strategies to cope. If you look around the forum, I'm sure you'll find a thread on cures and strategies.


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Old 05-03-2008, 06:59   #3
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This is a complex question. Everyone is different. Different people react to different conditions. Some get seasick when the motion is calm and gentle, others, only when it gets rough. Most people get past it after a couple days at sea, but I had an experience that lasted all of a 10 day voyage, and never left me.
A better question might be how to manage it. I have found anxiety to be a key factor. If you are anxious abotu the voyage, you will be more prone to sea sickness. I would avoid heavy or greasy foods prior to going out. Take seasickness medicine before you need it, and for some, the pressure bands work very well, and do not have the same side effects as the meds. If you start to feel sick, lay on your back out in the open if possible. Watching a fixed object such as land often helps. Avoid the smell of diesel, and also greasy cooking.
In time, most people do get past it, but some never do. Some people are always sick the first couple days of a passage, but it goes away after that.
All that being said, wait until you spend a few days at sea and then come back to experience land sickness. My opinion, it is worse. Sitting at your desk at work after a couple weeks out, and the desk just will not sit still
Good luck, and hopefully you will receive additional advice here.
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Old 05-03-2008, 07:44   #4
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Can someone become immune to seasickness?
It generally comes from your brain becoming confused about which way is up. How that all works is as many guesses as you might imagine. Coping with it is more a personal set of steps you have to learn.

My second sailing instructor got sea sick very easily. His rule is "I don't go below while under way".

What works for some might work for you or you may find other things more effective. So while I do not think anyone can become immune to sea sickness you can learn skills to cope with it better. I to do quite well so long as I have a visual indicator that has a horizontal stability (like the horizon). The motion is almost not effective at making me sick if i can sea around me with a sense of which way is up.

Other folks can become sick with just the motion of not being solidly planted. You might want to try some of the various methods for short periods of time. "The patch" is about the only sure fire preventative measure medically recognized. My wife claims The battery powered wrist band helps her a lot. Friends that get sick easily found it ineffective. The elastic bands with a bead that is placed on your wrist (Sea Bands)often work well for some and is somewhat related to the band my wife uses.

I would suggest you try a few things first to see how well they work for you in controlled situations before attempting a long trip.
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37 15.7 N 76 28.9 W
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Old 05-03-2008, 08:41   #5
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Kai Nui has a very good point that I experienced.
Many years ago when I first took a sailboat out in the ocean, I recognized the first signs of the onset of seasickness which I thought odd since I had never experiences seasickness before.
I realized that I was a little nervous taking a 23' sailboat out on the ocean having never sailed on the ocean before. The conditions were beautiful and I would have had to try to get into trouble with no more than a 4' swell with a long period between swells and only about 10 knots of wind.
The next time I went out a couple of weeks later, the conditions were a little rougher but I was more comfortable and had no problems with seasickness at all.

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Old 05-03-2008, 09:56   #6
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The point made about everyone being different is a valid one. Maybe this story will give you hope.

The first couple of times my wife sailed on a "real" sailboat (36 footer on the Chesapeake Bay), she felt very queasy, and actually turned a green color. TransDerm Scop got her through it.

The next time she sailed was on a half-day charter out of Lahaina, Maui, on a 36' sloop. For some reason, she felt no discomfort whatsoever in the long, smooth Pacific swells. From that day forward, she has never felt the slightest bit queasy, and she's sailed the Chesapeake, to Bermuda and back in very rough conditions, and up and down the eastern Caribbean islands several times.

She's "cured"! Who knows why, but we'll take it! There's hope, just keep sailing.
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Old 05-03-2008, 10:08   #7
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I sure don’t have any scientific or medical insight… From time to time, I have been prone to some queasiness on powerboats trolling or moving slowly offshore -- the larger the boat, the more likely… For whatever reason, I’ve seldom felt even a hint of queasiness when aboard sailboats (regardless of size) in the same type on environment… I’ve attributed the difference to the fact that slow-moving power boats often move readily through all three axis, whereas sailboats are usually dampened laterally and I guess my noggin’ copes better that way…

But for me at least, I find keeping myself oriented helps – as was explained to me, one of the major contributors to mal de mar is the fact that the ol’brain gets confused; your eyes are telling it one thing, while your inner ear is telling it something different… the trick is to get `em to agree I guess – hence, don’t bury your head for prolonged periods looking at stationary objects (charts, reading a book…) when the boat is actually moving, etc., etc… but the scenario you painted has gotten to other folks as well – to the eye, the surrounding sea is calm (occasionally looks like you could get out an walk on it), but often if you look out at the horizon, you can see you’re really moving up and down in the swell and one’s inner ear senses this…

The only time I’ve actually gotten physically sick when I was with diving students – the instructors often had a bunch of bottom time and had to decompress for a bit hangin around the the anchor line about ten/twenty feet down -- just to be safe after the last students boarded… “chumming” wasn’t all that unusual when hanging on the line if a serious offshore swell was running (wreck diving off the Carolinas). No sensation of nausea, but the rest of the physical attributes were there and one had to be watchful to make sure the regulator didn’t get messed up with the “chum..” Usually the sensation passed as soon as aboard and the boat was in good motion – then the movement was only two axis again, or so goes my pet theory…

Worry: misuse of imagination…
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Old 05-03-2008, 10:39   #8
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I have only ever been seasick once in my life. And it was a seriously bad case whereI really wished the boat would sink and It would be all over. It can be the most debilitating experiance you can endure. I know I can easily get sea sick if I allow the situation to control me. For me, my best course of action is looking at the Horizon. I have not experianced ruff conditions at night yet, so I can't say what I would then do. However, this followign technique may help.
The reason we get seasick is due to a balance issue and our senses. The balance mechanism is in our inner ear. It's a little "sensor" that floats in fluid and sends information to our brain which helps keep our balance. But this "balance" in our Brain is constantly updated with information from eyes and also ears in regards to sound. We have a stereo effect with both hearing and sight. If these senses are feeding information to the brain that is different to what our body is experiancing, the brain gets confused and thinks the body may have a virus or has been poisoned in someway. Son it causes a noisea and eventually sickness to try and expell the waht ever it is that is upsetting the Brain. Those that easily sucomb to seasickness, actually are those with better balance mechanisms. Those that don't get sick are actually those that their Balance mechanism is not very good.
Not having experiacned seasickness at night, I can only say that this advice following is only what I have been told. I have not tried it. And as I hate feeling sick, I don't want to try it. But apparently the balance thing is put into a Nuetral position if you lie on your back and look up at the ceiling. This apparently can help. Dawn tried it once and it didn't work. But then in that situation, one moment the ceiling was above her and the next moment it was the wall. So she didn't have much of a chance.
When we were in that situation, I had to stand at the wheel and concentrate on stearing so as not to get sick.
I also would suggest Stumoch breathing stress relief excersises also seem to help. When you get anxious and Seasick, you will note that you breath with your chest and not your stumoch. If you relaxe and breath from your lower abdomin, it relaxes you and can help greatly.

For God so loved the world..........He didn't send a committee.
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Old 05-03-2008, 11:10   #9
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Seasick r us

I drive, fly, I dive in rough water, and I sail, and I powerboat, and I get sick...a lot.

BUT, if I have the wheel, the tiller, the yoke or am focused mentally on a diving task, I do NOT get sick. Try taking the wheel/tiller of a boat and see if the concentration on the task at hand helps.

I once (read 'once' ) got talked into a overnight /2 day deep sea fishing trip out of san diego on the worst rolling powerboat I've EVER been on, everyone on board except the captain and 1 of the 2 crew were down for the count for pretty much the whole trip. When we got into serious fish, the mate came down and asked if anyone could get up to catch some fish...well I did, and for about 2 hours (till my arms gave out) I caught fish for pretty much everyone on the boat- for the first ten fish or so, tossing cookies in between cranking away on the rod.

Mate was amazed at my 'mind over matter'. When I quit fishing, I went straight back to sicker than hell and crashed in the bunk for the duration.

I've heard that ginger ale is good, but I can't hardly keep it down. I'm thinking of trying hypnosis as I have seen great results in that field.

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Old 05-03-2008, 11:38   #10
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For some, Ginger Ale, 7-Up, Ginger Snaps, and salt crackers all tend to help me, and most people that I have known to suffer from this. I tried laying on my back in the bunk, but it just made things worse. Being outside, even if it was on the highest part of the boat (more motion), was an improvement. The worst situation was having to complete engine repairs below deck. The heat, and diesel fumes in the engine room were more than I could take. Changing filters is an experience that I do not recommend if you have a choice. Also note that the motion of a sail boat vs a power boat is very different. I have never been sea sick on a sail boat, but consistently get sea sick on power boats
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Old 05-03-2008, 13:30   #11
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Just got back from a seven-day cruise in the waters around Guadeloupe, where I had my first (very mild) experience of sea-sickness.

It happened as I and a crewmate were in the salon trying to work out a position. Sitting bent over the chart for about 10 minutes seemed to do it -- slight lightheadedness, beginnings of nausea.

I darted up on deck, stared fixedly at the horizon for a few minutes and all was well.

But after that I did chart work on deck.

I've never been sea-sick before, but they say it can happen to anybody. Had some Bonamine along and took a tab that night just in case. But nothing further.

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Old 05-03-2008, 13:40   #12
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As others have said, seasickness is a very personal malady that affects different people very differently. I'm very susceptible to it when offshore. Gets better after 3 or 4 days, but still have to carefully watch it. For those that were given a bad set of seasick genes, God created Stugeron. For me, this stuff just works great and with no practical side-effects. Truly Gods gift.

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Old 05-03-2008, 14:59   #13
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I am rather lucky in so far as I never get seasick while occupied on deck although there have been a few occasions when lounging or reading one can feel a little queasy but it would soon pass if I looked at the horizon or concentrated on somethingelse.

However I try to avoid down below while underway on short trips wherever possibile for a protracted time as invariably I do become queasy. It quickly dissipates when back in fresh air. Strangely when passage making, sleeping, even cooking I am only rarely effected. However short sailing periods (up to ten hours) with night anchoring... a quick trip to the galley to make sandwiches etc can mean I am not eating mine immediately. Maybe its the longer period I don't know. What's strange is that sandwich making, fresh coffee etc in the former... I am rarely effected.

Weird but true

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Old 05-03-2008, 19:12   #14
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I skippered a small research boat for a while and part of the duties was to take wee groups of people and show them some of the diversity of our local ocean resources. One of the things I noticed was the folk who were convinced they would get sick generally were. I don't know if it was a case of self fullfilling prophecy?

I tried all sorts of the alternative remedies such as ginsing, ginger tea, wrist pressure bands etc. and the one that I think had the best success was to give everyone a piece of spearmint gum prior to leaving the dock. I would tell my passengers that the act of chewing the gum would stimulate the inner ear - it was not infallable but it did seem to work long enough to get them out to where the biologists could start entertaining them and then they would be 'home free'. (BS baffels brains?)

My wife, who deckhanded with me for 5 years, was the poster child for sea sickness: she would get sick at the start of every trip if we had spent more than 48 hours in port. In her case the scopoline patches worked to get her past the first day or two then she would be fine. (After 5 years I couldn't BS her
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Old 05-03-2008, 19:50   #15
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I was a professional fisherman for many years and have done a fair bit of cruising. My worse moments of seasickness were when on a tunaboat the diesel breather pipe went through the galley and it had a small hole in it that let out fumes. I now feal seasick every time a truck pulls up too close. I wasn't too bad while actually fishing but at night when I had to keep track of where we were by the radar screen, I fed the fishes a few times. Being stuck in the focsle in a force 11 wasn't very pleasant either. I am OK sailing or actually fishing.
The type of boat is important, which is one reason I plan on a Harryproa as it has a very smooth motion. I tend to insist on passengers and crew taking some type of seasickness medication iwhen I am in charge of a boat, if there is any chance of sea motion, unless they assure me it is not a problem (That way I don't need to use up my quotient of sympathy and towels)

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