Getting seasick? No thanks!
One of the questions that we are often asked… “do you ever get sick?” Oh yes! At least half of us have been through this situation. Days when we get more waves than usual, when we are feeling sick, after a long time without going to the sea, or when we smell the vomit during the trip. It happens to anyone! There is no way to know if we are going to get seasick or not. The good news are that, at least for us marine biologists, about 75% of people who start working at sea end up getting used to the ocean movement. For the remaining 25% … it is better to look for another job! For those who are determined to continue, or will simply try their luck at sea without knowing whether they will get seasick or not, here’s an explanation of what seasickness is and what to do to prevent it or, if it goes wrong, what to do. Results can be different from person to person … but it never hurts to try, right?
Seasickness is a result of a conflict in the inner ear, where the human balance mechanism resides, and is caused by a vessel’s erratic motion on the water. If you get seasick, take comfort in the fact that recovery is only a matter of time, and the survival rate is 100 percent! In our trips only a small percentage of passengers experiences this discomfort… and remember … it is just 2H30 to 3H of trip.
In case you get sick, don’t be embarrassed! It can happen to anyone, even the most experienced sailor! Here are some tips that can help and prevent motion sickness or relieve your symptoms.
Before the trip
• Do not drink alcohol the night before. Alcohol intake turns out to be one of the most common reasons for seasickness. If it already makes us sick on land, imagine what it can do to us at the ocean!
• Ear cleaning. We all bathe frequently and have regular ear cleaning with q-tips (not recommended by specialists at all!) or going to the doctor. What is certain is that the accumulation of wax in the ear can cause balance problems and nausea at sea.
• Have a good night’s sleep. Rest your body, so that you have the necessary energy to enjoy your whale and dolphin watching tour.
• Breakfast… the most important meal of the day. Never go to sea with an empty stomach. We recommend a light, fat-free meal. English breakfast, orange juice (acid) or even our tasteful Azorean pineapple are not recommended to go out to the sea! Try eating oats, toasted bread, fruit like bananas or apples and avoid dairy products! You will need a lot of energy to have fun at sea.
• Something you shouldn’t do at all is to drink coffee on an empty stomach … it can result in stomach heartburn.
• Wear warm and comfortable clothing, preferably in layers. In the case of feeling hot you can always remove some layers in order to always feel comfortable and avoid overheating your body. Don’t forget your sunscreen, hat and your shoes should be comfortable and non-slip.
• You can also go to a pharmacy and talk to someone specialized who can advise you on some medicine that will help fight against seasickness. But be careful, many of them have antihistamines that can make you sleepy. Remember also your possible allergies. Sickness medication may be good for one person and may be allergic or not work for another. Therefore, do not take anything without the advice of a pharmacist or doctor.
• Sickness bracelets. There are several types of bracelets that can prevent motion sickness. These apply pressure to strategic points on the wrist to avoid discomfort. But always remember … it can work for one person and not work for another.
• Believe it or not, but 99% of nausea it is made by our head. Even the most prepared sailor can get seasick. The problem is solved when they say to themselves, “I won’t get sick!”. Try saying this words to yourself 3 times before getting on the boat and don’t think about it again (you have to say it with conviction to work!).
• Don’t forget to bring water. Hydration is soooo important!
• Snack in the middle of the morning / afternoon is very important. Bring some snacks and fruit. It really tastes good to eat something while we’re sailing. The sea makes us hungry… very hungry!
• Seasickness can be often caused by bad smells… even the pleasant ones. So…Try to stay away from strong smells. If you see someone feeling seasick and vomiting, move to another area where you cannot see nor smell the vomit.
• Choose a place outside closer to the center of the boat. The calmest and most balanced area of a boat is in the center. Therefore, if you normally get seasick, avoid the bow (front of the vessel) at all costs.
• Avoid books, mobile phones or tablets. Reading, whether on a device or on paper, is a surefire way to make you sick.
• Help in finding the animals – this is a precious tip. This is one of the reasons why sailors rarely get seasick. They keep their minds busy looking out for cetaceans. Try your luck … you may find a whale before us!
Ok… you get seasick. What to do now?
• Ginger. Bring an infusion of ginger. Our grandparents used to say that if you have stomach pains you should ingest ginger. On the market you can always get ginger candies, ginger drinks… sky is the limit.
• Avoid direct sunlight and concentrate on your breathing. In case of nausea, avoid going to the bathroom and closed areas … in these areas the air is not fresh. Head to a place where you can feel fresh air and, if possible, some shade. Focus on your breathing. Hyperventilation can lead to fainting, so take a deep, controlled breath.
• Focus on the goal. Keep your focus on land or on the horizon … focus where there is no movement. Keep your mind busy so you can focus on other things than nausea. Try to count the little houses you can see, or try to make plans for the next day.
• Eat fat-free snacks such as cookies, crackers or fruit like banana or apple.
• If necessary, speak to the crew to request a vomit bag. Sometimes our stomach rejects what we eat for breakfast. In that case, vomiting will make you feel much better. After vomiting don’t drink too much water! The stomach is tender! Drink water sparingly and eat non-greasy snacks.
• Cool off. Heat is our worst enemy when we are seasick. Put some fresh water on your neck or face in order to lower your body temperature.
Written by Mariana Silva