Updated: Jan 6
It has to be said that whilst the majority of sails I have been on, I have felt okay, there are the odd occasions where Mistress Sea (as James likes to call her), wants to let you know that she is definitely in charge. Believe me, I found out the hard way myself.
As I am responsible for cooking on board for the crew and Captain, the last thing I want to feel is sick. Who wants to think about making dinner for the famished on-deck when sickness is playing havoc with your stomach, not me! So now I take my anti sickness meds as and when I need them. I am also responsible for the well-being of the crew which means your health is of the upmost importance to me whilst we are at sea.
Sea sickness is a strange feeling, one that you try your hardest to ignore and is best coped with if you are able to sit on the deck as opposed to being below. However, if there is no way the feeling will clear, it is recommended that you go and laydown in your bunk and sleep it off. You must always tell a member of the crew if you feel ill, there is nothing heroic about suffering in silence. We always have a supply of anti-sickness medication on board but if you feel you may be susceptible to the occasional motion sickness feeling, then we recommend you take a couple of tablets as per the manufacturers directions prior to coming on a sail.
So, what should you do when hit with sickly feeling whilst sailing at sea? First off, tell someone, anyone, just make it clear that you are feeling unwell. If you are on a night watch alone and your crew are below deck it is important that you shout to gain their attention so that they can assist and take over the helm whilst you allow nature to take its course downwind and over the side or back of the boat. You should always be clipped on to the boat using a safety line to ensure you do not go overboard especially whilst being sick.
If you have managed to get yourself below deck, the best place to lay is in one of the saloon bunks. This is because you will feel less motion of the boat than you would being in the fore cabin and there are lay cloths that are raised and fastened to stop you from rolling off. A drink of water is strongly recommended along with any anti sickness treatment you request, and we recommend you trying to sleep for the next few hours.
I have found that eating a couple of Ginger Nut biscuits tends to settle the stomach. I have heard that drinking non caffeine carbonated drinks work, wearing a copper bracelet or acupressure wrist band, but obviously not everyone is the same so it's worth finding the right thing that works for you.
What causes the sickness in the first place is usually when you are concentrating on a fixed point within the boat i.e., the compass. This can cause your body to lose its sense of balance with the continuous movement of the boat. It is best to keep your gaze on the horizon with regular looks to the compass instead of focussing mainly on the compass itself.
Fortunately, the majority of people who suffer from the dreaded sickness recover after a bit of sleep and can resume and enjoy the rest of the sail.
“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.”
Robin Lee Graham