There’s nothing worse than gearing up for an exciting boat dive only to have your tummy lurching within minutes of leaving the dock. You aren’t alone. Most divers will turn as green as a frog at least once in their lives. But, seasickness is a major problem for some. If you are one of the unlucky few who get sick every time the ocean rolls, we’re here to help.
Sea sickness occurs when a mismatch of information is sent to the brain. For example, your feet may be telling your brain that you are on solid ground, but your inner ear is saying otherwise. It senses the movement of the ocean as it battles to keep you upright. When the brain is confused, you end up sick. Luckily, there are some tried and true techniques to diminish the effects of seasickness and help you transition from shore dives onto that liveaboard of your dreams.
Choose the right destination
If you had a weak heart, you wouldn’t go skydiving. The same logic applies to seasickness. Don’t choose a destination where you have to hit the open ocean in the middle of monsoon season to reach a dive site. Try to pick areas with sites within protected harbors or seas to minimize the amount of waves you must battle. In addition, if you are considering a liveaboard, choose a larger ship with a built-in stabilization system.
Have a good rest before departure
Feeling exhausted is a good way to make your body more susceptible to motion sickness. Take a night to get some sleep before your next boat trip.
Get some fresh air
Being stuck in the interior of a boat can amplify the effects of sea sickness. Fresh air has two benefits: allowing our minds to focus on the wind blowing on our face and removing us from the oppression of a confined space.
Look at the horizon
Looking at the horizon helps our eyes to correct the signal they are sending to the brain. As the eyes look at the moving horizon, they begin to realize the movement of the boat and match the information the inner ear is sending. Correcting this miscommunication is the best way to manage sea sickness.
Find a spot mid-ship near the water
This is the location where a boat’s unnatural movements are minimized the most. If you are sailing on a liveaboard, request a cabin near the middle of the boat with a window looking out to the sea.
Contrary to popular belief, sailing on an empty stomach will not prevent you from throwing up. A light, non-greasy meal is the best breakfast before heading out. Try taking along some ginger cookies to snack on every couple of hours. Ginger is commonly thought to minimize the effects of motion sickness.
Coca-cola contains phosphoric acid and sugars, the very same ingredients you will find in common anti-nausea drugs.
Take some drugs
12 to 24 hours before setting sail, consider taking an over-the-counter anti-nausea drug like Dramamine, Benadryl or Bonine. These drugs work by blocking the miscommunications your eyes, feet and inner-ears are sending to your brain. However, their side effects can include drowsiness, so it’s best to give them a trial run before diving with the drugs in your system.
Wear a patch
Many sea sickness sufferers swear by the patch. These over-the-counter patches, which are worn behind your ear, work by reducing the signals sent by the nerves of your inner ear. As with over-the-counter pills, you must be mindful of the side effects which can include blurred vision and dry mouth.
Try an acupressure wristband
These bands put pressure on a point of the wrist called P6. While the science behind the technique is still being tested, many people believe that bands with a pressure point on P6 remedy the nausea caused by seasickness. Luckily, most divers recover from seasickness almost immediately after entering the water or touching dry land. If you suffer from a severe case of seasickness, it might take up to three days to return to your normal equilibrium. Don’t hesitate to talk to a medical professional before your next diving vacation in order to find the best prevention for you. Keep in mind that we are not trained medical professionals and this advice should not a replacement for a visit to your travel physician.