How To Beat Sea Sickness

If you’re one of the unlucky people that are sensitive to the motion of the ocean, then you already know that sea sickness can completely transform an epic adventure into a very miserable experience. It’s especially disappointing because you paid your own hard-earned money for this trip and have likely been looking forward to it for months, but now you’d do just about anything to GET OFF THIS BOAT, and I hate to break it to you but you’re stuck on board until the trip is over. Most sea sick prone individuals believe they’re simply cursed, and while a few crazies decide to go with an annual chumming trip, the most common response is to skip out on any more blue water trips forever. But there are some very effective ways to combat sea sickness, and even the biggest puker can still enjoy their time on the big water if they take a few proactive steps.

Motion sickness is actually a result of your brain getting confused. Your eyes are seeing one thing and your inner ear is sensing the ocean’s unsteady rhythms, and unfortunately the symptom of this “brain confusion” is usually extreme nausea.  But what can you do to stop it?

  1. Keep your eyes on the horizon.  The temptation when you start getting even a touch queasy is to go sit in the cabin of the boat, or put your head in your hands, but this is exactly what you shouldn’t do. Consistently keep your eyes looking at the distant horizon and your brain will be less confused, reducing the intensity of your symptoms. It won’t cure your sea sickness, but it helps.
  2. Stay away from the wrong smells.  Your sense of smell is strongly tied to your nervous system and there are smelly “triggers” that can drastically increase your odds and intensity of sea sickness. Stay away from diesel fumes, the bathroom, and anything super fishy smelling. Smells like ginger, peppermint, lavender, and some anti-sea sickness products you can find on the market will help!
  3. Eat the right stuff.  It’s not a good idea to have an empty stomach, or a stomach full of the wrong things either. I’m sorry to say that booze doesn’t help, and either does spicy or fat-rich foods. Instead, you should eat starchy foods like crackers, pretzels, rice, or toast. These foods actually absorb stomach acids, which are produced at high levels when you’re not feeling great. Ironically, bananas are also a great food to combat sea sickness, but be sure to eat them beforehand and definitely don’t bring the on the boat to avoid insulting your captain with “the curse of the banana.” You’ll thank me later.
  4. Wear a wrist band.  There are several anti-nausea wrist bands on the market, and the idea is that the band uses acupressure to target a pressure point on your wrist(s) that may reduce the effects of motion sickness. I know several people that say these bands work well for them. I’m not sure if it’s actually working because of the acupressure, or because of the placebo effect, but in the end does it really matter?
  5. Over the counter medication.  Dramamine and other similar products work well for some, and don’t work that well for others. A common complaint about them is that they make the user a bit drowsy and tired. That can be true, but if they work for you then USE THEM! If given the choice of either being sea sick or tired, I guarantee that 1000 out of 1000 people would choose to be tired.
  6. The patch.  This is usually my first recommendation for folks that are looking for a true cure for their sea sickness, and that’s because I’ve seen it work wonders for many people. I have several friends that would routinely get sea sick before they even left the harbor, but after using the prescription patch they are now able to go on the ocean in comfort, even in rough seas. Just like any other drug, everyone responds differently and there are a small percentage of individuals that see no relief from it, but the active ingredient (Skopolomine) has very few negative side-effects, so it’s definitely worth a try!  In my experience, the folks the patch doesn’t work for usually didn’t put it on until the morning of their trip. It seems to be much more effective if you put the patch behind your ear the night beforehand. I’m not a doctor, I just play one on this blog, so consult your own doctor and ask if they recommend the patch for you.

Hopefully one or all of these tips will help you be able to better enjoy your saltwater fishing trips in the future. In addition to these recommendations, there are tons of products on the market to try out nowadays. Experiment with different things until you find the formula that works for you. I can guarantee that it’ll be worth it when you’re reeling in a massive barn door halibut with a big Alaskan smile on your face 🙂



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