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I love sailing, and my wife loves the ocean, but she gets sea-sick often.
Any advice on how to avoid sea-sickness in people prone to it?

I'm looking for advice in terms of foods that are less of an issue to digest, where to sit in the boat, boat types that rock less, etc... Drugs are not an option in this case since my wife is breastfeeding.

Please leave the answers currently posted, as they may be helpful to others.

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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I'm a seasoned traveler, former deckhand, and a budding reference librarian, all qualities that uniquely situate me to answer your question. When I was working as a deckhand in Alaska I battled seasickness everyday. I found these things helpful:

  • sit or stand near the rear (stern) of the vessel
  • sit near a source of fresh air
  • face forward
  • rest your head against the seat back while focusing on the horizon
  • avoid greasy, rich foods for 24 hours before the boat ride

The Mayo Clinic also recommends abstaining from smoking cigarettes and cigarette smoke. Here's a link to their page on motion sickness:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-motion-sickness/HQ01099

Also, in my experience, riding on a multihulled vessel, like a catamaran, greatly reduces the likelihood of seasickness as multihulled vessels do not roll side-to-side in the water as much as monohulled vessels.

If your wife begins to feel sick, she might try some breathing exercises, such as regulating her breath by slowly counting while remaining still and continuing to face forward. I have also found ginger to be a very effective homeopathic remedy for motion sickness. Visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine(NCCAM )website for more information on the use of ginger to prevent/treat motion-related sickness. Here's the link:

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/ginger

If your wife must resort to medication I'd recommend Bonine brand. I took it several times on days when the sea was extra choppy and it did the trick. However, she must be sure to take the medication at least an hour prior to boarding the vessel. I switched to Bonine from Dramamine because it doesn't cause as much drowsiness. Per the travel website Lonelyplanet, Bonine is available in Israel.

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The bit about resting you head is probably controversal: for me it works better to sit with head and shoulders not touching the seat back, which reduces head motion. But tested in cars, not sea vessels. –  Steed Mar 6 '13 at 8:46
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My mother suffers from every form of travel sickness, and the only solutions she has found that help to ameliorate the symptoms (if not actually remove them entirely) are:

If I feel at all queasy in really heavy seas (ie the middle of the South Atlantic in a storm) I find that being on deck with good visibility of the sea surface (and possibly the horizon) helps me feel better almost immediately. The reasoning behind this solution is that it removes the confusion between your inner ear and eyes.

Update in terms of position on deck, being seated as close as possible to the centre of mass of the boat helps, as you will move least.

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Thanks, but she has tried bracelets and being on deck and it did not help enough. Stugeron is hard to come by in Israel and has too many side effects. –  David Kohen Dec 30 '12 at 12:38
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Well, there is the option the military use- a month long training course where you get spun in all directions to try and inure you to motion sickness completely. Not fun, apparently. –  Rory Alsop Dec 30 '12 at 13:08
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Dimenhydrinate (popularly known as Gravol in Canada and as Dramamine, Driminate, Gravamin, Vomex, and Vertirosan in the USA) is an over-the-counter drug used to prevent nausea and motion sickness that's considered highly effective.

Anecdotally, I was constantly throwing up on boats in South East Asia until I started taking gravol.

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+1 This works for me as well. –  theJollySin Jan 3 '13 at 5:36
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Close your eyes and stay in a prone position with as few bounces as possible. This works very well for me on boats, and when there is an extra seat available, on an air plane. It maintains a stable head position. It also minimizes the conflict between inner ear and visual information.

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Good advice, and welcome to The Great Outdoors S.E.! though I laugh to myself a bit thinking of his wife trying to enjoy the trip with her nose in the floor. But if it works, it works. –  MaskedPlant Mar 5 '13 at 21:51
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