Sea Sickness Tips

One of the things we get ask about all the time when people are looking into booking a trip with Blue Iguana Charters on one of your Bahamastrips or Keys trip is sea sickness. Heres a little info about how it works and some sea sickness tips and  that help.

What causes sea-sickness?

The primary cause is a conflict between your sense of balance and your sense of sight. The fluid-filled canals in your inner ear control your sense of balance and when you move your head, the fluid relays the message to your brain via the fine hairy receptors.

While this is happening, your eyes are also confirming the movement and relaying the message to your brain. The two “moving sensors” would be acting in agreement. But on a moving boat, especially if you are below decks, these senses come into conflict with your inner ear telling your brain that your body is moving, but your eyes are unable to report the same information.

This sensory conflict, apart from upsetting your sense of balance, somehow gets to also upset your digestive system, sometimes with spectacularly visible results.

Along with those sensory conflicts come a multitude of other outside influences that can differ wildly from person to person, including catching a whiff of someone smoking or someone cooking, the sight of someone eating, the smell of diesel, and of course the sight and smell of someone showing the ultimate sign of being seasick.


Some people can psyche themselves up into being seasick even before the boat leaves the dock, so having a positive outlook should be your first line of defense.

Be well rested before the lines get cast off. Partying the night before and consuming large amounts of alcohol with junk food is a definite no-no.

Don’t go to sea on an empty stomach. Eat well and drink plenty of water.

If you are already on medication of some kind, check that it will be compatible with what you intend to take to help combat seasickness. Some seasickness medications have to be taken prior to going to sea to have a chance of being effective.

If you work in the galley, prepare some meals that will require minimal time spent on them prior to serving.

Chart work and navigational work that can be done prior to departure should be completed as the effects of seasickness and preventative medication can lead to drowsiness and impaired thinking.

The engine room is definitely a place to keep clear of if you are not feeling good, so make sure all those little jobs are done so you can avoid spending unnecessary time below. Some medications are not to be taken while using machinery.

When possible, stay in fresh air, taking deep breaths and keeping your eyes on the horizon. Seeing a level horizon will send good balance signals to your brain.If in a cold climate, keep warm.

Avoid stress, but keep busy and try to avoid reading.

Avoid acidic and greasy foods, replacing them with less acidic (alkaline) foods such as most fruits and vegetables.

Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and high-caffeine drinks. Coke and Pepsi are actually exceptions to the rule as they contain phosphoric acid that can reduce the feeling of seasickness and vomiting. Drink alternatives are milk and apple juice.

If you can, look forward as looking behind can apparently cause problems.

If all else fails, lie down and go to sleep.


Because our individual metabolism is as unique as our personalities, there is no medication that will work exactly the same for everybody. There are basically two things to consider when trying a remedy for seasickness: if it actually stops you feeling queasy and, just as important, what the side effects are.

Side effects differ from person to person, so don’t take other people’s recommendations for a particular product.

If you are wary about putting chemicals into your body then consider trying some non-toxic herbal and natural products.

Wrist bands with a small ball sewn into the fabric that apply pressure are reportedly effective. They have to be positioned so that the ball is about three fingers above the wrist on the inside of the arm. This is an acupressure point that sends a message to the brain telling the stomach to stop contracting and dispels feelings of nausea and vertigo.

There are also wrist bands that look like a wristwatch and are electronic. From an electrode plate positioned in the same place as the acupressure point, it will send an electric impulse that will stimulate the median nerve, sending a stronger message than pressure from the little ball.

Ginger is probably the best known natural seasickness aid and can be taken in a number of forms. Try the tea by slicing fresh ginger root and boiling it in water for a few minutes. Ginger cookies and even a good ginger ale is an easy way to get ginger, as are ginger capsules available from a health food store.

The herb fennel has great healing powers. Use the seeds whole or ground to make a hot drink (an infusion). You can also munch on the seeds or take a fennel capsule. They are all good for calming an upset stomach and aiding digestion.

Peppermint is also an old favorite natural remedy for seasickness and easily taken as a tea. Sniffing peppermint oil can also help in clearing your head and preventing nausea.

Here are a couple suggestions I have heard work but haven’t tried:

Put an ear plug or scrunched up tissue in the ear opposite your dominant hand; put tape around your little fingers. Don’t knock it til you try it.

Trip Ease is a New Zealand homeopathic product that’s effective in countering the effects of motion sickness. Dosage is one tablet at the beginning of a trip and then every hour while the problem persists. Side effects are reportedly minimal and usually nothing at all.

There are a host of medications for seasickness, many that will more than likely have some side effects. If you are taking medications, check first to make sure the two medications are compatible.

Some seasickness medications include the scopolamine patch, scopace tablets, antihistamines such as Bonine/Antivert/Postafen/Dramamine ll, Marezine/Marzine, Stugeron, Dramamine/Driminate, and Phenergan. Do not take more than the recommended dosage, even if you think that it will reduce your seasick symptoms. It could, in fact, make you seriously ill.

Some regular activities may contribute to seasickness. Reading generally doesn’t help as your eyes are telling your brain that the book is stationary, but the sensory hairs in your inner ear are telling the brain a different story.

Avoid using perfumes and aftershave lotions as the smell of them may have an adverse effect.

Do not even think about consuming alcohol while on these medications.

Do not dive while on medication and check how soon after the last dosage it is safe to dive.

Avoid using any machinery and do not drive any vehicles.

Making it stop

The reason that crew are employed, of course, is to ensure the complete safety and comfort of the owners and their guests. It is not usual practice to set off into bad weather and a captain will do all he/she can to keep the vessel in calm water.

But it doesn’t always take a vessel rolling to bring on feelings of nausea, so do be prepared for when guests start to show sings that all is not well with their digestive system.

Have a good stock of varieties of seasick medications. Natural remedies are in vogue so keep a good fresh stock of those, as well as the various wrist bands.

Don’t forget to include a stock of sick bags that can be discreetly stowed in their cabins.

Have a clean-up-the-mess kit that can be easily and effectively used should the need arise in rough weather.

The least movement is generally experienced in the middle of the vessel and low down.

There are two major stages with a bout of seasickness: the first is you are afraid that you are going to die, and then you become afraid that you are not.

The good thing is that as soon as the vessel stops moving, life becomes agreeable again.

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