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bluwaterdreamin 10-08-2009 07:27

Seasickness While Single-Handing
Wanted to hear from you old salts out there.
I have heard of people getting so seasick they had
to be dropped off or even air lifted off a boat.
I'm talking days and even weeks of seasickness.
If you are single handing far from shore and other boaters and this hits you for a long period of time, what do you do?
Again, I'm talking about seasick to the point of dehydration and real medical danger.
What is the best cure that you have come across over the years?
Just curious...thanks

anjou 10-08-2009 07:43

Having been ill with sea sickness a few times myself, ive wondered this too. Once while on a fishing trip, I was so sick I lost all my fishing tackle through sheer disinterest as all I could do was vomit.I wasnt at all heartened when one guy said he had been in the merchant marine over 25 years and he was ill too.There comes a point where you get so tired from hours of constant vomiting, you have no strength or interest in anything.Bad enough when your in company but how do you survive when alone?

btrayfors 10-08-2009 07:59

1. Try to avoid rough weather. Obviously, this won't always be possible, but often it is.

2. Try seasickness remedies until you find one that works for you. One that works for me is Scopalamine, delivered by stick-on patch behind the ear. TransScop is the brand name...requires a prescription from your doctor. I tried mine on land first: I could never read in a moving vehicle, especially a rough-riding one. So, I put on a patch, waited a few hours, then had my wife drive me around town, with frequent hard stops, braking, accelerating, etc. Voila....found I could read just fine. It works for me at sea, too, and has none of the side effects some others have experienced.

Everyone's different, though. You need to find out what works for you.

3. Try to anticipate. If you're expecting rough weather, get plenty of searoom, take your medicine, and if necessary heave to on the offshore tack for the duration. Given enough searoom, the boat will take care of itself while you get over the seasickness enough to function again.


Talbot 10-08-2009 08:03

Those patches can be really dangerous, if you put too many of them on!

Personally prefer Hyoscine Hydrobromide (Kwells) I dont get so tired as the Scopalomine.

Best cure is ten minutes hugging a tree in the middle of a forest!

captain58sailin 10-08-2009 08:25

Scopalamine can be a hallucinogenic, and that can complicate things aboard. Meclazine hydrochloride, works as does ginger and several other "herbal" remedies.

btrayfors 10-08-2009 08:35

Yes, Scopalamine can be nasty stuff. That's exactly why you've got to evaluate its effect on YOU before you sail.

Hey, aspirin can and does kill people every year. So, too, does penicillin.

The fact that any drug can have nasty side effects doesn't mean it won't work well for you.

Scopalamine, aspirin, and penicillin all work very well for me :-)


jjt 10-08-2009 09:06

Take the wheel and concentrate on steering as soon as possible after the first symptomes. When you reach the dehydratation stage, it's too late to recover steering.

captain58sailin 10-08-2009 09:15

If you drink water after each time you yak, it can help the dehydration problem. If you have the wheel and focus on the horizon, it should alleviate some of the symptoms, get your focus off your belly, hold a cold soda behind your left ear.

sck5 10-08-2009 09:19

"Those patches can be really dangerous, if you put too many of them on!"

So dont. Put one on at a time. Lets count! One .... all done!

More importantly, BE SURE to wash any of the goo off your fingers. If it gets in your eyes you will have blurred vision for a while.

nautical62 10-08-2009 10:40

The most miserable night of my life was a bad solo stream crossing on a 26-footer. I figured forecasted winds of 25 knots would likely drop to notably less at night, but instead ended up being 35 and more easterly than predicted. It ended up being close hauled the whole way in about 12 foot seas. It was a night where I'd find myself suddenly airborne as the boat dropped away from under me. I had bruises for weeks. Despite sea sick meds, I was puking the entire night. Eventually, I figured out I didn't have to attempt the difficult task of turning around to puke over the side. Nothing was coming up anymore, so I could just sit there and spit. The entire exterior of the boat being constantly washed clean anyways. For those who have never been that sea sick, I think its comparable to having a bad migraine or the worst hangover imaginable, but you can't just lie in bed, you need to accomplish tasks while being tossed about. Over the past 3 decades of outdoor adventures, I've had a few mishaps: I trashed my ACL coming down from a mountain, and had to walk out of a river through the snow. Both were cake walks compared to being that sick at sea.

I ended up being 8 miles NW of Bimini and unable to make any headway, so I headed down wind with the current on a run to Fort Worth. Changing from beating into the weather to a run with an improvised drogue out changed everything, and I was feeling reasonably well within half an hour and able to take fluids not long after that. Going below to study a map was still not an option however. The point that addresses your question is that heaving to (while heaving also) or running with a drogue can make all the difference.

When I finally dropped anchor I got off the boat and swore I was walking away from it then and there never to cruise again. Of course less than 12 hours later I was on my way across once again.

While it's something I hope I never go through again, I did learn some valuable lessons:

1. I pushed the weather. I had just spent over a week waiting out a hard norther and was anxious. The winds that were SE at 25-35 that night were S at 12 a day later and made for a perfect crossing.

2. I learned how drastically different the motion is on different points of sail and with a drogue.

3. I learned the value of having contingency plans. Having different plans and waypoints entered into the GPS would have made all the difference.

4. I learned that when it's rough and you are not at your best, systems make all the difference - sail management, autopilot, drogue, etc. were a big help. The traveler that spanned the cockpit that I easily stepped over in moderate conditions became a serious hazard.

5. I learned the limits of my sea sick meds and learned what I can do when I'm absolutely miserable while still maintaining a margin of functionality and safety.

conachair 10-08-2009 10:49

I sail solo and think it would be very unlikely not to be aware that you are prone to seasickness before getting round to sailing offshore. And if you got it really bad you would not go sailing :) I suffer a little from time to time but after first few days itīs gone altogether. If itīs rough offshore then the worst bit for me is boredom as reading just makes things worse. Several days worth of podcasts are useful. Never tried any remedies, I just wait it out. Only fullproof cure Iīve found is to sit under a tree :)

imagine2frolic 10-08-2009 10:53

Everything changes once you hove to........i2f

anjou 10-08-2009 10:55

I rarely drink to excess as I hate being hungover, and I always drive because I used to get so carsick as a kid and only snapped out of it when I started driving, so the prospect of being sea sick is a worry.Im ok in open boats but once im closed in or engrossed in something like sorting out other peoples fiching lines I start to feel queezy if conditions arnt good.I guess its time to look for some remedies.

bluwaterdreamin 10-08-2009 11:37

good info everyone and thanks.
I have an open mastoid cavity in my right ear due to surgery
15 years ago.
I have to wear silicon ear plugs in both ears whenever I go swimming
in order not to get water in my ear especially my right ear.
I imagine I will be wearing them whenever I go sailing as well.
Ever since the surgery it seems I am sensitive to motion although it has improved with time since the surgery.
It was so bad right after surgery that I got woozy walking across a swinging bridge.
Geez! So many things to figure out.
Not giving up though and thanks again for your support.

roverhi 10-08-2009 12:11

I haven't gotten seasick ever so am nor played a victim on TV so have no first hand experience. Those who are prone to seasickness usually get over it within a day or two of beginning a cruise and it's banished for that sail. For some hanging out on deck in the fresh air and concentrating on the horizon or doing something that requires their undivided attention like helming keeps the barfs at bay. Unfortunately, sickness comes back for some when the boat motion changes though it's not usually as bad as the initial onslaught. There are a few who never seem to get over being seasick. They either die or the boat gets to its destination.

The malaise has different different intensities of sickness. Had a guy who we feared would drown in his own vomit, he was so seasick on a passage to Maui from Honolulu. H'd sailed with me a number of times off Waikiki without a problem but was totally out of it crossing the Molokai Channel but partiallt recovered when we got in the lee of Molokai. My wife usually felt very tired and a bit out of it at the beginning of a passage but never really got sick even when she was eight months pregnant. You'll have to do some passages to learn just how susceptible you are, what you can do in your actions or altering boat motion to ameliorate the heaves, which medical aides work for you and decide just how badly you want to sail. FWIW, there is a drug called Stugeron (sp) available in Mexico and other places, though not in the US, that a lot of people swear by.

There was a guy who raced in Honolulu that got sick every time he went out. As soon as they left the breakwater, he'd toss his cookies. Once his stomach was empty, he could function for the rest of the day though remained queasy. He raced seriously, usually out every weekend, for a number of years 'cause he loved the sport so much.

For some people, it's a phsychological thing. They've gotten sick in the past so know they are going to get sick in the future. Had an Aunt visit us at a Marina. We were tied up at the end of long floating finger pier. She protested loudly that she always got sick on a boat and immediately began feeling badly as soon as she stepped on board. Conditions were absolutely flat with no boat motion whatsoever. When she got off the boat, she felt fine, that is till someone pointed out she was standing on a floating finger pier. She'd felt fine walking out all the way to the boat and standing on the finger next to the boat for more than a 1/2 hour. She suddenly turned green and fled to shore when she realized the true nature of her surroundings. So keeping a good PMI, maybe some meditation might go a long way to making you more comfortable.

You'll have to go to sea to find out how you are going to react. Sounds like you have the desire, you just have to learn how your body will adapt and what you can do to make it easy on your stomach. As has been pointed out, there are things you can do to stop or lesson the queasiness, experience will tell you what works for you.

Peter O.

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