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Not the place to be acutely nauseous. Photo: Ingrid Wollberg

How to avoid getting seasick

over 2 years ago
Written by Ronald Toppe
Life on board > How to avoid getting seasick

How to avoid getting seasick

over 2 years agoLife on board
Written by Ronald Toppe
Not the place to be acutely nauseous. Photo: Ingrid Wollberg

Seasickness is a horrible experience. You get nauseous and miserable, you vomit, and have more than enough just taking care of yourself.

Ingrid Wollberg, the content producer on board Statsraad Lehmkuhl, has suffered a few rounds of nausea and misery.

Fortunately, it is possible to prevent seasickness from ruining the voyage completely.

Not everyone gets sick

We become seasick because the body gets confused. The balance organ in the inner ear consists of three fluid-filled tubes. The tubes are lined with microscopic hairs that perceive movement, and send signals on to the brain.

The balance organ enables us to keep our eyes fixed even when we move our heads. But in waves it screws up. The balance organ gives signals that do not match what the eyes see, the brain becomes confused, and we get sick.

Or to be precise - some of us gets sick. Some are never seasick. Most of us gets over it after a while, and others are completely wiped out until they return to dry land.

You may have spent a lot of time in boats without getting sick, but you will not know for sure until you get out to the open ocean. Beneath the waves on top, sea swells are rolling. The swells are so long that you hardly notice them, even the ones a few meters high. You are just slowly lifted up ... and then down again.

Beautiful, but not when you are unwell. Photo: Ingrid Wollberg
Beautiful, but not when you are unwell. Photo: Ingrid Wollberg

Stay on deck

In her video Ingrid admits that she can't sit below deck and work.

– To sit and look into the PC-screen editing videos, is the worst.

No wonder, that's when the eyes and the balance organs in the ear are really fighting.

– Stay on deck, be active, and don't worry so much about seasickness, Ingrid encourages.

A good advice: Do as Ingrid does, stay on deck. There you can watch the waves and move with the boat. Don't fight it, trying to "stabilize the world".

Keep warm

The sea is beautiful, even when you are ailing. It is magical to see the sun disappear like a glowing fizzy dot into the sea, experience dolphins up close, and see fulmars swoop by.

But the ocean can be damp and cold. Maybe not on the way to Las Palmas, but the North Sea is cold even in the middle of summer.

A good advice: Dress well. You get seasick easier if you freeze, and the sickness feels even worse if you are cold.

The galley. Poto: Ingrid Wollberg
The galley. Poto: Ingrid Wollberg

Avoid food odour

For Ingrid, having meals down in the galley is a challenge. She is not the only one. The odour makes the appetite disappear, and the stomach is busy holding on to what's already in it.

A good advice: Avoid food odours, tobacco smoke and other strong smells. Eat and drink little at a time, but often. Dry biscuits, nuts and raisins are smart. And drink sports drinks, they also give you a little salt. Have some food with you up on deck, then you don't have to go below to eat. Under deck, your body becomes even more confused.

Not over the railing

Vessels with mast and sails are more stable in the sea than vessels without. The wind pressure against the sail prevents rolling. But even in relatively calm weather, ocean swells can make you acutely seasick.

Statsraad Lehmkuhl, have separate vomit holes, funnels with pipes running outside. They work fine as long as you remember to use the ones on the lee-side. If you run to one on the windward side, the sea can send your entire delivery in return.

A good advice: If you are in a smaller boat and have to throw up, do not do it over the railing. You risk a lot of mess, and you may fall overboard. Use a bucket with a rope attached, which you rinse in the sea afterwards.

On your back with the eyes closed

On a long voyage you must at some point go inside, to sleep and go to the bathroom.

Getting undressed and go to bed can be a real challenge if you are seasick. But as soon as you lay on your back and close your eyes, it all gets much better. After just a few hours of sleep, you often feel completely fine for quite some time.

A good advice: Get to bed quickly, and get back on deck quickly. Sleep fully dressed if necessary, and by all means do not sit down to read or study maps. Go to the bathroom after you have slept, then you are most alert.

Stay on deck, and look at the horizon if you feel sick. Photo: Ingrid Wollberg
Stay on deck, and look at the horizon if you feel sick. Photo: Ingrid Wollberg

Pills and patches

Does none of the above advice help? The safest remedy is to let the old salts keep ocean sailing, and enjoy protected waters instead. Being in a boat is supposed to be nice, and there is no point in bothering yourself.

But if you have signed up for a leg with Statsraad Lehmkuhl, you will be stuck on board for some time. It is therefore wise to have some medication packed.

A good advice: If you want to avoid seasickness completely, there are two remedies: 1 - Seasickness patches that are attached behind the ear and work for 72 hours. You need a prescription from your doctor to get these. 2 - Seasickness tablets, which comes in different versions. Talk to your pharmacist to find out which one you should use. Remember to take the tablets a couple of hours before you go on board, if you have already become ill, you risk vomiting them up again.

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The One Ocean Expedition is a circumnavigation by the Norwegian tall ship Statsraad Lehmkuhl. We aim to to share knowledge about the crucial role of the ocean for a sustainable development in a global perspective.

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