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Old 16-01-2021, 07:07   #1
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Seasickness Questions

Hi everyone, longtime lurker here, no sailing experience, just a passion to soon retire, sailing in the Caribbean. One thing I know that would end this dream right in its tracks is seasickness. My wife for lack of a nicer term is ‘delicate’ and I know for a fact one bad bout of seasickness for hours on end would turn her off sailing for good. Ive read stories of couples buying yachts and selling weeks later because of seasickness, I don't want to be this couple. Questions: Does the brain eventually get used to seasickness after repeat exposure? Is it true that it usually only lasts the first two days on passage and then subsides? Would Dramamine get someone through these first two days in relative ease? Is seasickness a constant occurrence, even on short passages? I would plan to look for a heavy displacement, sea-kindly boat to minimize seasickness as much as pissible. Would it be wise to take her on a charter first so she could have some exposure? Then again, one rough day on a charter, in a boat not built for rolling seas could turn her off for good. Thanks everyone for the replies.
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Old 16-01-2021, 07:48   #2
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Re: Seasickness Questions

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Originally Posted by Wilyum View Post
Hi everyone, longtime lurker here, no sailing experience, just a passion to soon retire, sailing in the Caribbean. One thing I know that would end this dream right in its tracks is seasickness. My wife for lack of a nicer term is ‘delicate’ and I know for a fact one bad bout of seasickness for hours on end would turn her off sailing for good. Ive read stories of couples buying yachts and selling weeks later because of seasickness, I don't want to be this couple. Questions: Does the brain eventually get used to seasickness after repeat exposure? Is it true that it usually only lasts the first two days on passage and then subsides? Would Dramamine get someone through these first two days in relative ease? Is seasickness a constant occurrence, even on short passages? I would plan to look for a heavy displacement, sea-kindly boat to minimize seasickness as much as pissible. Would it be wise to take her on a charter first so she could have some exposure? Then again, one rough day on a charter, in a boat not built for rolling seas could turn her off for good. Thanks everyone for the replies.
Good questions and you are right -seasickness can end the dream abruptly. Personally I'm lucky, I've never suffered from seasickness, despite ahving sailed over 30,000nm on this 5 year cruise. But my wife has suffered. At the start, she would take a seasickness tablet the day before we left and continue taking them for at couple of days.

She doesn't anymore, prefering to feel slightly ill for a day or so until she gets over it.

There are many remedies for seasickness - pills, bracelets, acupuncture and probably some I've never heard of. For most people, seasickness lasts a day or two then they get over it.

Best advice - consult a doctor for what will suit your wife and talk to her aobut the fact that even with a remedy, she may still feel poorly. A charter is not a bad idea.

For almost everyone, the seasickness stops if you give them something to do - the best is set them to helming the boat - that way they ahve somethign to do, and they keep their eyes on the horizon. Do NOT let them go below - the sickness will get worse.

good luck
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Old 16-01-2021, 08:03   #3
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I have known people who get seasick a few minutes after you let go of the docklines..
There's motion sickness and then there's self induced seasickness.. the one is treatable with some medications, eating ginger snaps, wearing wrist bands.. the second often cannot be overcome as the fear of heaving results in heaving..
I used to get seasick (vomit) many years ago, triggered by deisel smells, walking past the ships galley or when some macho clown faked a hurl with a bit of rag hidden in cupped hands then projected in my direction when in rough weather.. Funny how humans find suffering humorous..
These days I merely feel mildly nauseous for the first couple of days after a winter ashore, one reason I make my initial departure on a voyage in fine weather.. a day or two later it's gone and I can face a gale no worries.
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Old 16-01-2021, 09:39   #4
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Re: Seasickness Questions

As boatman61 said, sometimes its psychological. On my first ship in the Navy we had a First Class Petty Officer in my division that was literally seasick as soon as he heard the announcement "UNDERWAY" over the PA system.

I watch a lot of the YouTube vlogs and there are several that have crew/partners that stay bed ridden most of the voyage unless its extremely calm conditions. They don't seem to find any long term solutions to their seasickness. They are unable to stand watches leaving the other crew to cover/handle everything which leaves the crew sleep deprived and tired.

I believe many people suffer a few days discomfort until there bodies adjust under most circumstances but can still fall sick if the weather deteriorates significantly or the seas become chaotic due to adverse currents and wind.

Scopaline patches (spelling?) are supposed to be effective if you can get them. Are they available in the US?
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Old 16-01-2021, 10:09   #5
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Re: Seasickness Questions

FYI about the Scopolamine patches - they can have some side effects so if you want to go that route I'd suggest trying one out for a week beforehand. I get mildly seasick, so I decided I wanted to try the patch before a 4 day liveaboard dive trip a while back. I got a prescription from my doctor and tried out one of the patches the week before the trip. Some of the side effects like dry mouth were no big deal, but on day 2 or 3 I started to get blurry/double vision that was bordering on debilitating. Not a great idea while SCUBA diving, so I ditched the patch and went back to Dramamine. For me, the non-drowsy Dramamine or Bonine work well and don't knock me out.
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Old 16-01-2021, 10:23   #6
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Re: Seasickness Questions

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Originally Posted by Wilyum View Post
Does the brain eventually get used to seasickness after repeat exposure?
For some people, yes. For some people, no. Seasickness is very personal. No two people seem to react to it exactly the same. For that reason, you have to find out how it affects YOU, and what works for YOU, to cure it. Suggestions from other people can be useful, but you have to remember that what works for them may do YOU no good at all.

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Originally Posted by Wilyum View Post
Is it true that it usually only lasts the first two days on passage and then subsides?
See answer above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilyum View Post
Would Dramamine get someone through these first two days in relative ease?
See answer above. Sorry to keep repeating myself, but "it depends" really is the only answer that you can count on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wilyum View Post
Would it be wise to take her on a charter first so she could have some exposure?
To this I would probably say, yes. Somewhere like the Bahamas, the BVI, or even Florida, where you can quickly get away from rolly conditions if they start to bother her, would be a good start. If she enjoys the charters enough, she might be willing to put up with a little discomfort on longer trips. She might also be able to try a couple of different cures, to find one that works for her.

Oh yeah, and there is one, guaranteed cure for seasickness. Admiral Lord Nelson, of the British Navy, discovered it more than 200 years ago. He was beset by seasickness his entire career. His cure... Two hours spent sitting under a tree.

Good luck!
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Old 16-01-2021, 10:27   #7
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Re: Seasickness Questions

Once you have your sealegs, the nausea is gone, so any exposure to ocean is a good thing. To assist with getting your sealegs, watch the horizon. It is like riding a bicycle, once your body figures it out, no more issues.
I think the problem is harder for the wife if she is not actively working on the boat, so give her some things to be in charge of, that do not have her in the cabin all the time, and tell her not to read books or stare at her cell phone.
Here in BC Canada, there are a lot of logs in the water, so that is a full time task for someone, to keep watch, and doing that is enough to force your sealegs real quick because you have to stand up to see.
Once you have your sealegs, the motion of the boat actually becomes fun, for me anyways.
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Old 16-01-2021, 10:35   #8
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Re: Seasickness Questions

This topic comes up often, doing a search here will yield an abundance of good info. I believe Sturgeron (not sure if I spelled it right) is the best med, though I haven't tried it. I've been sailing for awhile, and I love it, but even I will say "THIS TRIP IS OVER!" if I start getting sick. I can only say that for me here is what has helped with me, my family and kids I used to take out:
1. Sleep on the boat the night before.
2. Take the Dramamine, or whatever, as directed (like an hour before leaving.)
3. Reduce anxiety. (Some folks just feel anxious when the boat begins to move and that will aggravate things I have found. Experience helps in this regard because soon you will not fear the boat's heel anymore and will stop trying to subconsciously fight it.)
4. Stand in the cockpit, get the cool breeze, look at the horizon and let the boat move underneath you.
5. Get used to throwing up when you need to.

And for me anyway, accept that the motion of certain hull designs may affect one differently.

And maybe consider a catamaran.
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Old 16-01-2021, 11:16   #9
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Re: Seasickness Questions

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FYI about the Scopolamine patches - they can have some side effects so if you want to go that route I'd suggest trying one out for a week beforehand. I get mildly seasick, so I decided I wanted to try the patch before a 4 day liveaboard dive trip a while back. I got a prescription from my doctor and tried out one of the patches the week before the trip. Some of the side effects like dry mouth were no big deal, but on day 2 or 3 I started to get blurry/double vision that was bordering on debilitating. Not a great idea while SCUBA diving, so I ditched the patch and went back to Dramamine. For me, the non-drowsy Dramamine or Bonine work well and don't knock me out.
After using Scopolamine patches for a few years
On a recent passage I had a significant reaction on day 4
when the patch wears out. I suffered a real bout of Tachycardia
(Fast Heart Rate) It passed in a few very worrisome and uncomfortable
hours.
From then on I take my chances with SeaSicknes
Cheers
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Old 16-01-2021, 11:25   #10
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Re: Seasickness Questions

Thanks everyone, some really great suggestions.


Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
If she enjoys the charters enough, she might be willing to put up with a little discomfort on longer trips.
This is a great idea, if we can do some really calm charters, she might just catch the bug and make her tolerance that much higher down the road. Should I be making heavy displacement, full keel boats a priority? Are they that much more sea-friendly for similar length boats? Also any features I should avoid, like a center cockpit?
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Old 16-01-2021, 11:27   #11
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Re: Seasickness Questions

As an occasional sufferer, I don't actually agree with Carstenb on this occasion. His advice certainly helps when you feel queasy. So standing watch is a little tough, and doing anything in the galley is pretty tough. I find it starts to come on as I put on the wet weather gear, perhaps as a result of the extra layers my body warms up quite dramatically and I quickly feel flushed and that feeling soon changes to nausea. But an hour two and you're over it. Fresh air, water and some dry biscuits all help, as does taking a dump. If I think about sea sickness I will start to feel it, so push any thought away.

But being actually sea sick, is an entirely different matter. There are times you just have to lie down with a bucket and keep your eyes firmly shut. It is somewhat similar to having spins after drinking too much. And every now and then you vomit and that becomes more and more difficult and painful as you've nothing left to puke up.

For most, this wont last longer than a day or two. But for some it just doesn't go away and they're literally bed ridden. On the couple of occasions it has happened to me it was after 4 or 5 days on a passage and I put it down to the nausea being exacerbated by the tiredness of 4 on 4 off watches. Getting decent sleep in my off watch is a problem for me. I get anxious I wont sleep and it becomes a vicious cycle. I get anxious, sleep wont come, I can't sleep so I get anxious. Plus bedding gets wet, sailing sounds are loud, other people are awake and ignore people are trying to sleep. They still need to cook, make drinks, find stuff, use the loo etc And worst for me are idiots wearing headlights with no awareness of where their stupid light is pointing. Such is the fun of sailing!

Whilst it's awful for the afflicted, watching someone in this condition can be frightening.

I've yet to find a Doctor with any expertise with sea sicknesses. I've tried all sorts of remedies. Scopolamine is fantastic and works for me but is now illegal in New Zealand. Until I looked it up in writing this post I'd no idea what a nasty drug it is. My go to these days is Meclozine (brand Sea Legs). Dramamine I find is good too, but I have to work hard to stay awake. So I take a half a dramamine when I go off watch so I get a decent off watch sleep. The only advice I would give is try different remedies in the hope of finding one. Know the side effects and use same to advantage.

I'd also encourage people that suffer to really push themselves when it's calm. Do all the things that bring on seasickness; do a whole heap of looking down. Make a meal, get down on the floor and find something at the back of the lowest cupboard. Look straight down the hole whilst pouring diesel (preferably in a hot smelly engine bay). Change that really difficult to get at fuel filter after the engines been running for a few hours. Clean out the fridge with that stinky old forgotten fish. Give the toilet a spring clean, but keep the door shut behind you so it feels a little claustrophobic and stuffy. Do all of these things with at least 3 layers of clothing (including wooly hat) whilst wearing sea boots. I really believe doing this has helped me enormously to increase my tolerance.

Different sea/sail motions can bring it on. Sailing a cross sea, over even smallish waves or down wind. With both it's the side to side rolling for me. The bash, crash of a heavy sea doesn't seem to cause more than the flushing effect I mentioned whilst dressing and once on deck it goes away quick smart.

Also I've yet to sail on a boat in a rough sea that doesn't roll, pitch and (as my sailing is mostly restricted to monos) heel. Heavy displacement, light plastic fantastics: sorry but when the sea and wind is up it's gonna bash and crash. And in a real storm the violence of a small boat's motions is beyond anything most people have ever experienced.

It does of course depend much on when and where you sail. We are so fortunate with such enlightened weather forecasting: so much bad weather can be avoided.
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Old 16-01-2021, 13:35   #12
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Re: Seasickness Questions

@ Willyum:

I respect your concern that your wife enjoy sailing, and I would start her out with one of the over the counter anti-emetics like meclizine HCL (brand names Marezine or Bonine). If they work, problem solved. Good predictors for having seasickness include being prone to carsickness, getting headaches on windy roads driving fast, and dislike of amusement park rides that twirl or go up and down fast.

My lifetime record for seasickness was 19 days in a row (on a trip back to SF from Hawaii. on a 30 footer). I tried almost everything, including accupressure bracelets and ginger, all the otc, and then prescription meds. What works best for me is Stugeron, cinnarzine HCl, and it is available mail order from Canada, and by friends who will pick it up for you in the UK. It is probably available in Belgium where it is made, and for a while was available in Vanuatu in the Pacific. Used to be available in New Caledonia, but no longer, but they're closed, still, anyway. It is available in Mexico.

All the others leave me feeling nauseated or too sleepy to stay awake, only the Stugeron makes me feel close to normal. [Scop patches had unpleasant side effects; and one preparation, a combination prepared by a compounding pharmacist of ephedrine and phenergan was okay, but I still felt nauseated even though not actively throwing up.]

My husband, Jim uses it too, and our pattern of use is he uses it 2 days, according to the instructions; I use it 3, and usually I am okay for the rest of the trip. However, if we get caught out in really rough weather, I need to start it up again. For me, one of the brilliant things about it is that if I take it, and then a half hour nap, I'll be fine again.

Because of our success with it, I would suggest you order a box or two from Canada, and each of you take one two hours before leaving for the boat. We did know one guy who used to start them a whole 24 hrs. in advance, but it has never been necessary for us.

In your case, you want your good lady to take to sailing, and it sounded as if she would not take to it if it makes her feel bad. The whole thing about taking wives sailing basically comes down to you have to make it fun for her. Or at least not distasteful, or she will not like it. This is especially true for couples of long standing where he thinks it is fun to go out, but she finds she is cold, wet, and terrified--you have been warned.

Be sure to buy enough for both of you for a couple of weeks, then re-evaluate.

Good luck with it.

Ann
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Old 16-01-2021, 14:36   #13
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Re: Seasickness Questions

I also had side effects to scopolamine but stugeron has worked wonders for my wife and I with no side effects. We used to get it in the states through shipping online from Canada but here in Mexico it is over the counter. IMPORTANT to get correct dose since higher doses are used for other medical issues. For us we take 2-15 mg to start then one 15 mg every 8 hours for a day or two. It works for us even after we start turning green. Every one is different and your mileage may vary. Try a charter or crew together on a delivery(but not with Captain Bligh) before spending big on your own boat.
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Old 16-01-2021, 15:47   #14
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Re: Seasickness Questions

Ah the mal de mer....

I personally don’t suffer from it except for one time.... come to find out my niece, serving as galley slave, used the seawater pump to make oatmeal; once depositing the remnants over the side 🤮 things were all better.

As far as the scopolamine patches go, another niece (who has always been susceptible to motion sickness) suffered severe blurred tunnel vision and smacked her head on the companion way while we were tied up at dock.
On our next trip (she’s a trooper!), she was sick as a dog for the first day until we reached Santa Barbara Island and she got in the water for a swim (dive) with the sea lions. Once she climbed back on board she was fine for the rest of the trip.
As stated by others, it affects different people in different ways and to different degrees. I have heard more positive results about Stugeron than other remedies, so I purchased some in England but have not yet had any guinea pigs to run my studies on.
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Old 16-01-2021, 16:03   #15
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Re: Seasickness Questions

Re: seasickness is psychosomatic. I had a cat aboard for several months that suffered horribly from seasickness. Pretty sure it was real. Couldn't try having her at the helm.

Some people can power through it. I once talked to a Rhode island lobsterman on a VHF late one night. He said he suffered from seasickness the first few days of each season.

But there are people who can't power through it. Meclazine/Bonine is the best I've seen. For hard core cases, the fear of seasickness and when to medicate is a pretty unlikeable cycle.

My point is seasickness is very , very real. Thinking someone who is especially susceptible can somehow get through or over it may not be realistic.

Peter
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