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All the questions about Sea Sickness you were afraid to ask....

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  • All the questions about Sea Sickness you were afraid to ask....

    There have been a number of questions asked about seasickness in the forums over the last couple of years but there has never been a full article about it so I thought I would give it some time.

    For those of you thinking of going to sea, this is one of the unknowns that you cannot really know about until you have had your first few trips. For those who have done one trip and maybe suffered then you will want to know will I suffer again?

    Seasickness, or any motion sickness, is caused by a disparity between your eyes and the balance part of your ears. If you are stood in a room and looking at the wall and your eyes are saying you are stationary, but then the room is being moved around, your ears are saying you are moving. At this point your brain gets confused and starts sending alarm signals to your body. Anyone who has had a severe ear infection will tell you that loss of balance and sickness is debilitating.

    Being sick saps energy and leaves you dehydrated. Not being able to eat because your stomach has gone on strike and your brain stops you feeling hungry means you get bad quite quickly.

    First of all you need to understand that MOST (99%) of seasickness is made worse by your own brain. I was seasick on my first day at sea. We were crossing from Amsterdam to Hull and I have never seen the North Sea calmer, before or since, it was like a mirror. I had been on ferries in rough seas before I went to sea and never felt sick, but my brain was saying this was a real ship! It was all in my mind. If that is not the case with you, and you are genuinely feeling motion sickness, maintaining a positive mental attitude really does help and you will get over it quicker if you do not give in to it or feel sorry for yourself, (as difficult as that is at the time.)

    Now tell yourself that this is temporary. Within a few days, if not sooner, you will no longer feel it. That is called finding your sea legs! Some people who were at sea for a year on one ship used to suffer land sickness when they came ashore.

    Mild symptoms are nausea and tiredness, so you may have already had early signs of it when you first join your ship and the ship was moving about a little and you felt incredibly tired. You are only really bad when you have extreme dizziness, extreme vomiting, blinding headaches and cold sweats.

    Things that help:
    • Keeping the horizon in your peripheral vision. Not staring at the horizon, but keeping the signals between your ears and eyes in synch
    • Fresh air & cool areas (Standing on the Foc’sle head in the breeze coming over the bow looking forwards and listening to music on your iPod is a good thing providing it is not blowing a force 8!)
    • Keeping busy, do some keep fit out on deck, like running and just keeping your mind occupied
    • Take deep breaths and drink plenty of water
    • Face in the direction of travel as much as you can
    • Eat light meals and avoid fatty or spicy foods
    • Try to stay warm, relaxed and comfortable
    • Try to sleep at the appropriate time but sleeping at any time can help
    • Sometimes Ginger as a food helps - ask about ginger biscuits


    Things that don't help:
    • Staring at the horizon
    • Reading
    • Going below
    • Food smells, or any strong smells, just make it worse
    • Using binoculars
    • Doing detailed work that mean focussing your eyes on small things


    Stugeron, or other anti sickness drugs, can help in the short term, but you have to start taking them before you actually start feeling sick to be effective. There are also wrist bands that push on pressure points that some people claim work. However in my opinion, and it is just an opinion, this is back to the original 99% in the brain…

    Both of these are short term measures though. You will either get your sea legs and be fine for the rest of the voyage and feel it a little bit each time, or you could always be ill for a few days each voyage, or you could be one of the few and suffer sea sickness in bad weather your whole career. If you are really lucky you will be one of those who never get sick, but they are in a very, very small minority.

    Please try not to worry - it will pass. You will then stop feeling it all together. But do not be frightened to be honest and tell people if you are ill. Whilst keeping busy is good - getting over it is more important. Your head of department will understand.

    There are a couple of funny points to be made. There is a cure for sea sickness - sit under an apple tree! (Think about it for a minute!)

    Secondly I always advise people to take a spoonful of Jam. It does not stop you being sick but makes everything taste sweeter when it comes back up!

    Finally I can empathise a bit. Back in the 80's I was on a Maersk Anchor Handler that had a terrible motion that made the accommodation vibrate back and forth under your feet, a bit like a shuffle, when she was pounding in a sea. It was a weird motion and it made many people sick the first time they were in a good blow. We got caught stern to on a rig shift on the bridle in a storm and after 8 hours I started being sick. Within 24 hours I was so ill I was unable to work for 3 whole days until we got back into Aberdeen. I was so bad I wanted to sign off but the skipper persuaded me to stay on. Apart from my first day at sea I had not been sick in 7 years.

    They say there are two stages of sea sickness. The first stage is when you are frightened you are going to die. The second is when you become afraid you are not going to die! I got to the second stage on that trip for sure.

    As a footnote you need to know that you are in good company if you suffer sea sickness:
    • Admiral Nelson, who suffered his whole life, was totally incapacitated for the first few days at sea
    • Julius Caesar's military campaigns were full of reports of vomiting recruits and sea sick horses
    • Christopher Columbus and his men were badly affected
    • The admiral in command of the Spanish Armada (He was actually an Army General!), the Duke of Medina Sidonia, suffered severe sea sickness which helped England’s cause no end
    • Richard Henry Dana, in his book Two Years Before the Mast (1840), writes of the utter horror of working aloft at the top of the masts in "an ugly, chopping sea, which heaved and pitched the vessel about"
    • Charles Darwin was another person who was chronically seasick
    • Clare Francis, the sailor and author, was the same (Maybe that is why she took up writing?)


    I hope this helps some of you to relax a bit and learn to take it in your stride. It won't kill you - it will just feel like it at the time!

    Ian
    "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
    "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

    "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.

  • #2
    Stugeron was a lifesaver for me - and the rest of the crew when we were down in Antarctica - but beware the trick is to start taking it an hour or two before SAILING and then continue to take 1 pill regularly...
    ?Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn?t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.?

    ? Mark Twain
    myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

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    • #3
      Probably worth mentioning for the sake of those who haven't been to sea that alot of you won't get sea sickness and most of those who do it will be mild. Don't worry to much.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Lewis View Post
        Probably worth mentioning for the sake of those who haven't been to sea that alot of you won't get sea sickness and most of those who do it will be mild. Don't worry to much.
        Speak for yourself.

        Most of my classmates have admitted to have felt seasick at some stage during their first sea phase, some who really struggled. It's one of those things you eventually get used to and strangely when I felt seasick the sea eventually got so rough that you stopped feeling sick as you're probably too busy concentrating on holding on to something.

        I would drink as much "fresh" orange juice as I could in the morning, something to do with the acidic regulator in it helps calm the stomach and generally I think it helped.

        Advice to any of the "aspiring cadets" who are not sure if they'll get seasick, if you can, get yourself out on a boat and find out first!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Polaris View Post
          ...Advice to any of the "aspiring cadets" who are not sure if they'll get seasick, if you can, get yourself out on a boat and find out first!
          I would be very cautious of suggesting this and I will qualify it. Apart from one psychosomatic bout of seasickness and one really serious one I never suffered at sea, even in storms that damaged the pipework on the deck of a tanker.

          But take me out in a 16 foot boat sea fishing and I can groundbait for NATO. I once "blew chunks" (making offerings to King Neptune) six times in three hours out of Roscolyn Bay on a fishing trip. I used to love going fishing but just could not get on with small boats - much to the hilarity of the club members who ribbed me mercilessly for being a Merchant Seaman for my job!

          They are completely different.

          Ian
          "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
          "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

          "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.

          Comment


          • #6
            Also to further Hatchorder's post, for some really odd reason I feel worse on larger ships than small tenders - on small boats its fun!

            I think it's safe to say that at some point in your career you will get sea sick - it's just a case of how rough it has to be! Don't whatever you do suffer in silence or make any rash decisions during the first few weeks onboard - we had a cadet join us a few years ago, first trip, who got really bad sea sickness (it was pretty much flat calm) - he resigned within a few days - despite our assurances that he would eventually get used to it!
            ?Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn?t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.?

            ? Mark Twain
            myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Polaris View Post
              .... I would drink as much "fresh" orange juice as I could in the morning, something to do with the acidic regulator in it helps calm the stomach and generally I think it helped.....
              I did not know that. Think I will go off and research that and if it is recognised will put it into my original post duly credited! Not saying it does not work, or did not work for you but would hate to recommend it and it be wrong advice!

              Ian
              "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
              "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

              "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.

              Comment


              • #8
                I think that one does work actually, maybe?

                I work in the North Sea so I see some weather!

                I drink a lot of OJ, about 1L a day when it gets rough and it seems to cure my seasickness.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Faust View Post
                  I think that one does work actually, maybe?

                  I work in the North Sea so I see some weather!

                  I drink a lot of OJ, about 1L a day when it gets rough and it seems to cure my seasickness.
                  I can't remember where I read it, may even have been on here possibly.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    could be a placebo.

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                    • #11
                      When I feel the weather start to get rough I normally try and induce as much vomiting as I can, by any means possible.

                      This get's all the vomit potential out of my risk assessments.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lewis View Post
                        could be a placebo.
                        Never expose a placebo, don't ruin it for them

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                        • #13
                          Actually there are studies showing that placebos still have any effect even after being told they're a placebo.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pignutpilot View Post
                            When I feel the weather start to get rough I normally try and induce as much vomiting as I can, by any means possible.

                            This get's all the vomit potential out of my risk assessments.
                            That sounds like a rather silly thing to do and is not something that should be advocated as it will dehydrate you.
                            I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

                            All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Lewis View Post
                              Actually there are studies showing that placebos still have any effect even after being told they're a placebo.
                              someone's been watching darren brown

                              To boldly go.....
                              Forum Administrator
                              OfficerCadet.com

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