Coping with seasickness and motion sickness
Coping with seasickness and motion sickness

If you're planning on setting sail with your family, it's important to know how to cope with seasickness and maintain overall health and wellness while living on a boat.

Coping with Seasickness and Motion Sickness

Sailing the open seas with your family is an incredible experience, but it can also come with its fair share of challenges. One of the most common issues faced by those living on a boat is seasickness, also known as motion sickness. In this article, we’ll explore the causes of seasickness, how to prevent it, and how to cope with it when it does strike. We’ll also discuss some tips for maintaining overall health and wellness while living on a boat.

Understanding Seasickness

Seasickness is a form of motion sickness that occurs when the body’s sense of balance and equilibrium is disrupted by the constant motion of a boat on the water. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Cold sweats
  • Fatigue

These symptoms can be mild or severe, and they can vary from person to person. Some people may be more prone to seasickness than others, and it’s not uncommon for individuals to experience seasickness on some trips but not others.

Causes of Seasickness

Seasickness is caused by a conflict between the body’s various sensory systems. When you’re on a boat, your inner ear (which is responsible for balance and spatial orientation) detects the motion of the vessel, while your eyes may not perceive the same degree of movement. This discrepancy can lead to confusion in the brain, resulting in the symptoms of seasickness.

Other factors that can contribute to seasickness include:

  • Anxiety or fear of getting seasick
  • Lack of experience on boats
  • Fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Hunger or overeating
  • Alcohol consumption

Preventing Seasickness

While it’s not always possible to completely avoid seasickness, there are several steps you can take to minimize your risk and reduce the severity of symptoms. Here are some tips for preventing seasickness:

1. Choose the Right Boat

If you’re prone to seasickness, the type of boat you choose can make a significant difference. Larger boats with more stability, such as catamarans, tend to cause less motion sickness than smaller, more unstable vessels. Additionally, boats with a lower center of gravity and a smoother ride can help reduce the risk of seasickness.

2. Acclimate to the Motion

Before setting sail on a long voyage, spend some time getting used to the motion of the boat. This can help your body adjust to the movement and reduce the likelihood of seasickness. Start with short trips and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable.

3. Choose the Right Location on the Boat

The location you choose to spend your time on the boat can also impact your susceptibility to seasickness. Generally, the center of the boat experiences the least amount of motion, so try to find a spot near the middle of the vessel. Additionally, staying on the lower decks can help reduce the sensation of motion.

4. Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon

Focusing on a fixed point on the horizon can help your brain reconcile the motion detected by your inner ear with the visual information received by your eyes. This can help reduce the symptoms of seasickness. Avoid staring at objects inside the boat, as this can exacerbate the problem.

5. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated can help reduce the risk of seasickness. Avoid heavy, greasy, or spicy foods, as these can contribute to nausea. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can also help keep your stomach settled.

6. Get Plenty of Rest

Fatigue can make you more susceptible to seasickness, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep before and during your voyage. If possible, take naps during the day to help combat fatigue.

7. Use Seasickness Remedies

There are several over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help prevent and treat seasickness. These include:

  • Antihistamines (such as Dramamine or Bonine)
  • Scopolamine patches (available by prescription)
  • Ginger supplements or ginger candies
  • Acupressure wristbands

Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any medication, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing, or have any pre-existing medical conditions.

Coping with Seasickness

If you do find yourself experiencing seasickness, there are several strategies you can use to help alleviate the symptoms:

1. Go Outside

Fresh air and a view of the horizon can help reduce the symptoms of seasickness. If you’re feeling nauseous, try to find a spot on the deck where you can get some fresh air and focus on the horizon.

2. Lie Down

Lying down can help stabilize your body and reduce the sensation of motion. If possible, lie down in a location near the center of the boat, where the motion is less pronounced.

3. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of seasickness, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can contribute to dehydration.

4. Use Distraction Techniques

Focusing on something other than your seasickness can help take your mind off the symptoms. Try listening to music, engaging in conversation, or participating in an activity that requires concentration.

5. Practice Deep Breathing

Deep, slow breaths can help calm your body and reduce the symptoms of seasickness. Focus on inhaling slowly through your nose, then exhaling through your mouth.

Health and Wellness at Sea

In addition to managing seasickness, it’s essential to maintain overall health and wellness while living on a boat. Here are some tips for staying healthy at sea:

1. Exercise Regularly

Staying active is crucial for maintaining physical and mental health. Incorporate regular exercise into your routine, whether it’s yoga, swimming, or bodyweight exercises on the boat.

2. Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential for maintaining energy levels and overall health. Make sure you’re consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is crucial for staying healthy, especially in the hot sun and salty air. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

4. Protect Yourself from the Sun

Sunburn and sun damage can be serious concerns while living on a boat. Make sure to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and protective clothing, and seek shade whenever possible.

5. Maintain Good Hygiene

Living in close quarters on a boat can make it challenging to maintain good hygiene, but it’s essential for preventing illness. Wash your hands regularly, keep living spaces clean, and ensure proper food storage and preparation.


Seasickness can be a challenging aspect of living on a boat, but with the right strategies and precautions, it’s possible to minimize its impact on your sailing adventures. By understanding the causes of seasickness, taking steps to prevent it, and knowing how to cope with it when it does occur, you can ensure that your time at sea is as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. And by prioritizing overall health and wellness, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the challenges and rewards of life on the water.