Be­fore sailing

Yachting Monthly - - EXPERT ON BOARD -

When day sailing, sea­sick­ness goes away once land is reached or the an­chor is down. How­ever, for coastal or off­shore pas­sages longer than 24 hours, pre­vent­ing or ef­fec­tively treat­ing sea­sick­ness mat­ters as, un­treated, it could re­sult in in­ca­pac­i­ta­tion.

Sea­sick­ness is caused by sensory con­flict and/or stress, both of which re­sult in his­tamine pro­duc­tion. Nau­sea re­sults when his­tamine reaches the brain. Some are more sus­cep­ti­ble than oth­ers but given the right – or should that be the wrong – con­di­tions any­one can be sea­sick.

The re­spon­si­bil­ity for the safety of the ves­sel doesn’t go away if you’re sea­sick. A con­tin­ual watch for haz­ards, other ves­sels, nav­i­ga­tion and weather mon­i­tor­ing must be main­tained. It is ex­tremely im­por­tant to main­tain your full watches no mat­ter how you feel; ly­ing in your bunk is not an op­tion. Help­ing oth­ers get over sea­sick­ness as quickly as pos­si­ble must be the fo­cus and re­spon­si­bil­ity of all on board. Fre­quently sea­sick crew will ask to be left alone, say­ing they don’t feel like drink­ing or eat­ing any­thing. Leav­ing them alone is a mis­take. Keep them awake, sip­ping flu­ids and reg­u­larly eat­ing small amounts.

Hav­ing dealt with over 400 sea­sick sailors over the past 40 years, my wife Amanda and I have be­come very ex­pe­ri­enced at pre­ven­tion and treat­ment. To avoid sea­sick­ness or re­cover quickly, fol­low these steps.

For 2-4 days be­fore the passage, avoid cof­fee, black tea, co­las and al­co­hol (all di­uret­ics), fatty and his­tamine-pro­duc­ing foods in­clud­ing tuna, toma­toes, salami, hard cheeses and sauer­kraut.

In­crease your wa­ter in­take to 2-3 litres per day.

Give each crew mem­ber their own one-litre wa­ter bot­tle la­belled with their name.

Start ap­pro­pri­ate sea­sick­ness med­i­ca­tion at least 24 hours prior to de­par­ture, which may be 2-3 grams of Vi­ta­min C, which in­hibits his­tamine pro­duc­tion, or one of the med­i­ca­tions be­low.

Be­fore de­par­ture, min­imise time re­quired be­low decks once un­der­way by hav­ing meals planned and ready, bunks made up and lee cloths rigged, nav­i­ga­tion or­gan­ised and ap­pro­pri­ate clothes laid out. watch en­sur­ing a to­tal of 2-3 litres per day.

As soon as sea­sick symp­toms ap­pear (mild headache, queasi­ness, sweat­ing, drowsi­ness, de­pres­sion) a more dis­ci­plined re­sponse is re­quired.

Add Be­rocca, Emer’gen-C (avail­able in health food shops) or a sim­i­lar vi­ta­min-min­eral drink mix con­tain­ing Vi­ta­min C, potas­sium and elec­trolyte re­place­ment min­er­als to your drink bot­tle. The elec­trolyte re­place­ment helps your cells ab­sorb fluid more quickly and com­pletely.

Eat lit­tle and of­ten: crack­ers, bis­cuits, crys­tallised ginger, tinned fruit or boiled sweets. Ba­nanas pro­vide potas­sium and are an ex­cel­lent choice.

‘Given the right con­di­tions any­one can be­come sea­sick’

Make meals, stow kit, rig lee cloths and passage plan be­fore leav­ing to min­imise time spent work­ing be­low once on passage

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