This month, world champion sailor Alex Alley gives us his tips for how to fight motion sickness onboard:
“One of the things I get asked about a lot when I am taking people out sailing for the first time, is sea sickness. Possibly the most debilitating thing that can happen to otherwise healthy people at sea.
It is real and it can sap energy out of the most upbeat person – however, the advice I would give is – don’t worry yourself about it, it can happen to the best sailors.”
My 6 top tips for fighting motion sickness:
- There are many types of medication on the market, a popular one is Stugeron. There are pills, wrist bands and patches. Each have their fans, however some also have their drawbacks in that they can sometimes make you sleepy.
- You can help yourself by not going out for a big meal with lots of alcohol the night before you sail.
- There are also things you can do onboard if you start to feel a bit queasy. Firstly, keep warm, most important. Once you get cold, your body starts to shut down and you then can’t help yourself.
- DON’T go down below if you can help it. Once you lose sight of the horizon, it tends to make people feel ill. I’m told it is the mix of signals to the brain. Your eyes tell you nothing is moving (you’re inside the boat so have no reference), but your ears are telling you that you are moving (the fluid in your ears gives you balance). This conflict of information confuses the brain and makes you feel unwell.
- Try and eat something plain, such as a ginger biscuit (ginger is supposed to help) or a piece of bread.
- Finally, the best piece of advice I can give is to occupy your mind. Maybe take the opportunity to take the helm if you feel confident and someone can guide you. This focuses your mind and stops you thinking about being ill.
It is not simply the movement of the boat that makes you sick. Many people say they get motion sick in a car as a passenger, but not as a driver. Tthe motion is exactly the same – so some other process must surely be at work! Perhaps it is driven by anxiety, or the feeling of not being in control?
I’m not a psychologist so I can’t say with any authority what the cause may be. I do however spend a lot of time sailing and I’d like to finish this article by referring back to my first piece of advice – don’t worry about it, anxiety will only increase the chances of you feeling ill, in effect you will make yourself feel sick!
Embrace the experience of sailing, learn about it and try and understand it, that way you will know what to expect, you will feel less anxious about it, you will have fun and trust me, you won’t be sick…
We would like to thank Alex Alley, MaxSea sponsor for sharing this advice with us. Alex is a round the world yachtsman, inspirational speaker and world champion. Learn more about Alex.
If you have any tips of your own for combatting seasickness, simply leave a comment!