Getting seasick can ruin a perfectly good day on the water, not to mention the laughs your friends will be having over your inability to keep your lunch down. It’s important then that every spearo knows how to prevent sea sickness before it happens. Especially once you start venturing into deeper and deeper water, chasing bigger and bigger fish.
Because who wants to lose a day on the water?
Along with the nausea, getting sea sick can lead you to vomit, give you headaches and I’ve even seen my friends break out in cold sweats. It’s not fatal, but it sure isn’t fun.
It works like this.
- Your feet think they’re on solid ground (the boat).
- Your eyes think they’re on solid ground (the boat).
But your inner ear feels the movement. The rocking on the high seas from the waves and the motion confuses your brain. It just doesn’t add up. So your body has a natural reaction.
It starts to freak out. You get sea sick.
Now there’s a bunch of studies on sea sickness. In short, pretty much everyone on the planet is susceptible to sea sickness to a degree. That is, it’s nothing to be ashamed about. In the right conditions, everyone will feel the effects.
But some people have a higher sensitivity to it.
It’s just the way it is.
The good news however, is that you can do things to regain control of your body when you’re feeling sea sick. I’ll say this again. You can prevent sea sickness. Keep reading and I’ll spill the beans on how I’ve managed to spend hundreds of hours on the water without falling victim to the terror of motion sickness. Though I have had a few close calls.
Get a good sleep the night before you go spearfishing
Getting out on the water usually revolves around getting up at the crack of dawn, and if you’re planning a day’s spearfishing my first piece of advice is to be well rested. That means no hangover, and getting at least a few hours of sleep. Being tired stresses your body out, and makes you more susceptible to feeling unwell on the water. This is my favorite way to prevent sea sickness, as who can really enjoy a day on the water when you’re not at 100 percent. Plus, spearfishing while hungover or tired is a recipe for disaster. Don’t do this.
Take your sea sickness meds before you hit the water
There’s a whole bunch of different medication you can take to prevent sea sickness, from over the counter medicine to prescription meds you need to see a doctor to get. The trick though is to ensure you take the pill before you get on the boat, 12 to 24 hours before is usually best, so the medicine is in your system. Just follow the instructions provided by your doctor. I use Dramamine, which basically works by blocking sensory-nerve transmission. Or in plain English, stops your inner ear from being able to tell your brain you’re moving. So no sea sickness. Bonine is another med you can try, and I’ve even got a friend who swears by Benadryl (the antihistamine). Just make sure you speak to your doctor before taking anything.
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If you’re not a fan of taking a pill, there’s another way to take your sea sickness medication, via a patch. There’s a number of sea sickness patches on the market, working much like the pills it reduces the level of activity of the nervers in your inner ear, so they’re less able to convince your brain something is wrong. Again, please consult your doctor before taking any medication for sea sickness. Safety first please.\
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Keep your head up and eyes on the horizon
The simplest trick is to help your eyes and brain balance out. Get yourself up on deck, and looking out over the side of the boat towards the horizon. This way, your peripheral vision will notice the swell of the waves coming, and start to match up the feelings with what you’re able to see. I also like the cold wind blowing in my face, it helps to freshen me up and gives me something else to focus on apart from the rocking motion of the boat.
Start nibbling and drinking to prevent sea sickness
An empty stomach isn’t going to fly when you’re feeling nauseous, so find something light to eat. Think plain food. Like crackers or pretzels, and remember that I said nibble here. You’re not stuffing your face here. You just want to be biting on a few crackers to have something in your stomach, and also give you something else to think about. For drinks, grab either a ginger ale or a coke. Ginger is known for calming the stomach, while the high sugar levels and phosphoric acid in a coke are present also in Emetrol, an over-the-counter nausea drug.
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Use an acupuncture wristband to prevent sea sickness
Now I was a little skeptical the first time I was convinced to try this technique, but I have to say it was quite good at keeping my mind off the rising nausea you feel when sea sickness is creeping on you. It’s essentially just an elastic bracelet that sits where your watch does on your wrist, with a bead that presses into the underside of your wrist. Much like a sweat band. The most popular is the Sea-Band, which could prove helpful if you’re prone to getting sea sick. The studies on its actual usefulness are rather thin, but there’s plenty of anecdotal stories with clients who said it’s helped. I leave this one up to you. For me, I liked the distraction, and it tucked in nicely under my wetsuit.
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Don’t make yourself sicker
It goes without saying that if you’re at all susceptible to sea sickness, you’re also going to want to avoid any triggers.
Personally, I’d recommend staying away from all of these:
- Petrol/diesel fumes from the boat’s exhaust, and keep a wide berth of anyone else who is currently sea sick on the boat.
- Any foods likely to upset your stomach, especially anything particularly greasy, spicy or acidic. This includes fruit juice, and remember to go easy on the portions of food too.
- It’s a diuretic and speeds up dehydration, which can also lower your body’s natural resistance to motion sickness.
- Distracting yourself with your smartphone or a book. Focusing your eyes on a target that appears “stationary” will only amplify the feeling of sea sickness.
Of course, most of this also comes down to the feelings in your own head. Many people I’ve talked to believe that they can prevent sea sickness by sheer force of will, and you know what, in many cases they’re right. Believing you’re able to overcome the feelings of nausea is a powerful weapon to cure sea sickness, so relax. Tell yourself that you’re stronger than the motion sickness, and focus on enjoying your day on the water. To me, just keeping your mind on something else is one of the best ways to prevent sea sickness.
I’m still seasick. Now what?
If all else fails, the best thing you can do with seasickness is to get it all out. You’ll feel much better almost immediately. My only advice is to not try to do it in the boat. It will get messy, and no one want’s to be around that smell. So if you feel like you’re about to lose your lunch, head to the side (or back) of the boat where the wind is at your back. Don’t be too embarrassed, it’s happened to many people before you. And after an hour or two, you’re probably going to start to feel better. At worst, you may not feel 100 percent for the next couple of days, but there won’t be any long-term effects.
Getting sea sick is rather common, but managing it is rather easy too. The key is to plan ahead, take the right meds and to avoid pushing yourself while you’re on the water, especially if you’re susceptible to motion sickness. That way, you can focus on enjoying your day on the water, and catching some truly awesome fish.