Coping with Seasickness: Tips and Tricks from Experienced Sailors
Coping with Seasickness: Tips and Tricks from Experienced Sailors

Discover effective ways to cope with seasickness, a common challenge for both novice and experienced sailors, and ensure a comfortable and enjoyable voyage.

Coping with Seasickness: Tips and Tricks from Experienced Sailors

Seasickness is a common ailment that affects many sailors, both experienced and novice. It can be a debilitating condition that can ruin an otherwise enjoyable sailing adventure. In this article, we will explore the causes of seasickness, discuss various prevention methods, and share some tried-and-true remedies from experienced sailors. By understanding and addressing seasickness, you can ensure that your time at sea is as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.

Table of Contents

Understanding Seasickness

Seasickness, also known as motion sickness, is a condition that occurs when the body’s sense of balance and equilibrium is disrupted by the constant motion of a boat or ship. This disruption can cause a range of symptoms, including:

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

These symptoms can vary in severity and duration, and can affect individuals differently. Some people may experience mild discomfort, while others may be completely incapacitated by their seasickness.

Seasickness is caused by a conflict between the body’s visual and vestibular systems. The vestibular system, located in the inner ear, is responsible for maintaining our sense of balance and spatial orientation. When the motion of a boat causes the fluid in the inner ear to move, the vestibular system sends signals to the brain that conflict with the visual information it is receiving. This conflict can lead to the symptoms of seasickness.

Preventing Seasickness

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of seasickness, there are several steps you can take to minimize its impact on your sailing experience. Prevention is key, and by addressing the issue before it becomes a problem, you can greatly improve your chances of enjoying a seasickness-free voyage.

Before You Set Sail

  1. Choose the right boat: If you are prone to seasickness, consider choosing a boat with a more stable design, such as a catamaran or a boat with a deep V-shaped hull. These boats tend to have less motion and may be more comfortable for those susceptible to seasickness.

  2. Plan your route wisely: When planning your sailing adventure, try to choose a route that avoids areas with rough seas or strong currents. Calmer waters will be less likely to trigger seasickness.

  3. Check the weather forecast: Be aware of the weather conditions before you set sail. Stormy weather can lead to rough seas, which can increase the likelihood of seasickness. If possible, try to schedule your trip during a period of calm weather.

  4. Prepare your body: In the days leading up to your sailing trip, make sure to get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, and stay hydrated. A well-rested and nourished body will be better equipped to handle the challenges of seasickness.

  5. Consider medication: If you have a history of seasickness or are concerned about the possibility of experiencing it, talk to your doctor about preventative medications. There are several over-the-counter and prescription options available that can help reduce the symptoms of seasickness.

While Onboard

  1. Choose the right location: If you are prone to seasickness, try to spend most of your time in the middle of the boat, where the motion is typically less pronounced. Additionally, try to stay on deck as much as possible, as fresh air and the ability to see the horizon can help alleviate symptoms.

  2. Maintain a steady gaze: Focusing on a fixed point on the horizon can help your brain reconcile the conflicting information it is receiving from your visual and vestibular systems. Avoid reading or staring at screens, as this can exacerbate the symptoms of seasickness.

  3. Stay hydrated: Dehydration can worsen the symptoms of seasickness, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout your voyage. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as these can contribute to dehydration.

  4. Eat small, frequent meals: An empty stomach can make seasickness worse, so try to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Opt for bland, easily digestible foods, such as crackers, bread, or rice, and avoid greasy or spicy meals.

  5. Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can help calm your body and reduce the symptoms of seasickness.

Seasickness Remedies

If you do find yourself suffering from seasickness, there are several remedies available to help alleviate your symptoms. These remedies can be divided into four main categories: over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, natural remedies, and alternative therapies.

Over-the-Counter Medications

  1. Antihistamines: Antihistamines, such as Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) and Bonine (meclizine), are commonly used to treat the symptoms of seasickness. These medications work by blocking the signals in the brain that trigger nausea and vomiting. Be aware that some antihistamines can cause drowsiness, so be cautious when taking them while sailing.

  2. Antacids: Over-the-counter antacids, such as Tums or Rolaids, can help alleviate the stomach discomfort associated with seasickness. These medications work by neutralizing stomach acid and can provide temporary relief from nausea and indigestion.

Prescription Medications

  1. Scopolamine patches: Scopolamine is a prescription medication that is available in the form of a patch that is applied behind the ear. This medication works by blocking the signals in the brain that trigger nausea and vomiting and can be an effective option for those who suffer from severe seasickness. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the potential side effects and risks associated with scopolamine before using it.

  2. Promethazine: Promethazine is a prescription medication that can be used to treat the symptoms of seasickness. This medication works by blocking the signals in the brain that trigger nausea and vomiting and can be taken in pill form or as a suppository. Be aware that promethazine can cause drowsiness and should be used with caution while sailing.

Natural Remedies

  1. Ginger: Ginger has long been used as a natural remedy for nausea and vomiting, and many sailors swear by its effectiveness in treating seasickness. Ginger can be consumed in various forms, including ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger candies, or ginger capsules.

  2. Acupressure wristbands: Acupressure wristbands, such as Sea-Bands, are designed to apply pressure to a specific point on the wrist that is believed to help alleviate nausea and vomiting. While the effectiveness of these wristbands is debated, some sailors find them to be a helpful, drug-free option for managing seasickness.

Alternative Therapies

  1. Hypnosis: Some sailors have found relief from seasickness through hypnosis, either by working with a professional hypnotist or by using self-hypnosis techniques. Hypnosis can help retrain the brain to better cope with the conflicting signals it receives during motion, potentially reducing the symptoms of seasickness.

  2. Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a technique that involves learning to control certain bodily functions, such as heart rate or muscle tension, in order to improve overall health and well-being. Some sailors have found success in using biofeedback to manage their seasickness symptoms, although more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness.

Seasickness and Children

Children can also be affected by seasickness, and it is important to take their needs into consideration when planning a family sailing adventure. Be sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician about appropriate seasickness prevention and treatment options, and be prepared to adjust your plans if your child is struggling with the symptoms of seasickness.


Seasickness can be a challenging aspect of the sailing lifestyle, but with proper preparation and a variety of treatment options available, it doesn’t have to ruin your time at sea. By understanding the causes of seasickness and taking steps to prevent and treat its symptoms, you can ensure that your sailing adventures are as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible.