Avoiding Sea Sickness while saltwater fishing on a boat, can be real challenge to some, especially on a smaller boat. The bane of every saltwater angler besides having a bad catch must surely be Sea Sickness.
Going fishing on a boat involves long periods of drifting or in an anchored position, and you are subjected to roll and pitch, the smell of bait, diesel or gas exhaust fumes, and possibly fuel vapors. Roll is the side to side movement, much more prevalent on a boat while fishing, pitch is the fore and aft movement. While the boat is in motion, you will always be moving, in unison with the tide and swells, a very natural feeling. The problem starts when the boat stops.
The symptoms of motion sickness are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating, and a sense of feeling unwell. These symptoms arise from the inner ear (labyrinth) due to changes in one’s sense of balance and equilibrium. At first you feel that you may die, then you worry that you won’t.
While it may be impossible to prevent all cases of sea sickness, the following tips can help you prevent or lessen the severity of motion sickness:
- Watch your consumption of foods, drinks, and alcohol before and during travel. Avoid excessive alcohol and foods or liquids that “do not agree with you” or make you feel unusually full. Heavy, spicy, or fat-rich foods may worsen motion sickness in some people. You don’t want to have a lot of acid or heavy, slow to digest foods rolling around in your stomach while you are rolling around on the sea. Having said that, do not skip eating before getting on the boat. An empty stomach can be almost as bad as one with the wrong types of food in it. Give your stomach acids something to work on. Give your stomach time to begin digesting you meal. Get up a little earlier if you must to eat, relax and an hour or more before going out on the water. Don’t overeat and get bloated either. Easy does it.
- Drink plenty of water. Even partial dehydration lowers your body’s resistance to the stressful factors caused by the boat ride. Take lots of water with you and drink often.
- When traveling by boat, it can sometimes help to keep your gaze fixed on the horizon or on a fixed point.
- If you are beginning to feel a bit queasy, stand up and look out over the horizon. Despite what you might think, sitting or laying down is the worst thing you can do at this point. Don’t do it. This is a critical moment. You will get much worse even faster and may reach a point of no return if you make the wrong choice. Soda crackers seem to help some people by calming their stomachs and reducing nausea.
- If someone in your party is overcome by sea sickness, get away from them at once! Unfortunately, on a normal game boat, there isn’t many places you can go to. Many of us can do fine until someone else loses it. Then we have a sympathetic reaction and succumb as well. It could be the sound, the smell, the sight, or a combination of them that triggers the same response in us. You don’t have to be close to your buddy at this time. There is nothing you can do to help.
- Drink Coke or Pepsi. These two drinks help reduce the chances of getting sick because they contain phosphoric acid, which is an ingredient in Emetrol, a drug to control vomiting. Eat Saltine crackers. They absorb the excess acidity very well. If the indigestion is really bad, take an antacid.
- Sleep on your back. This seems to support the stomach better from bouncing around. Have your ears cleaned before a long journey. This has helped many people reduce their proneness to seasickness by allowing the balance mechanism in the ears to work better. I’ve never had it done myself, but I’ve heard it helps.
Ginger is a natural preventative. It soothes a queasy stomach and has no side effects. You can get it in pill form, tablets or powder, as ginger root in many herb and health food stores, or as pickled ginger slices at Japanese food marts and even at many Japanese restaurants. Most serve it pickled with sushi, hand rolls, and other of their dishes. It puts out the fire that too much wasabe can start. Some doctors recommend that you can take it 12-24 hours before.
Eating peppermint in conjunction with ginger is reported by as being even more effective. Since mint does have some of the same calming qualities as ginger, this may be true. Perhaps it is just the belief that it works that is effective. Regardless, it is an inexpensive and pleasant addition. An added benefit is making your breath sweeter.
Another treatment is an acupressure wrist band. It applies pressure to a particular point on your wrist which can prevent the feeling of nausea.
Here’s an interesting treatment that was found. It is a treatment that works on some after they are feeling queasy, rather than as a preventative. Immerse your feet in ice water. Anecdotal reports indicate it helps some people.
There are other preventatives, such as over the counter and prescription medications. Most should be taken in advance and not on an empty stomach. Be sure to read the instructions. Dramamine is one that has been used for years. Meclizine and bonine are also effective. You can find them at most pharmacies and drug stores. Scopolamine was used for awhile in the Transderm patches, but was taken off the market because of quality control problems, though it is now available again (as of fourth quarter 1997). Be sure to read this warning about sea sickness medications. It might give you more reasons to try other methods of prevention than medication. The medication (Bonine, Antivert, Dramamine) can be a very effective preventive measure for short trips or for mild cases of motion sickness. Your doctor also may choose to prescribe medications for longer trips or if you repeatedly develop severe motion sickness. One example of a prescription medication is a patch containing that often is effective in preventing motion sickness. Remember that scopolamine can cause drowsiness and has other, and its use should be discussed with your physician prior to your trip.