Baltic Sea, North Sea and the Bay of Biscay. These areas are my most unbeloved playgrounds, I mean sailing grounds when it comes to bad weather. Aside from injuries and emergencies, being seasick on board might be the most discomforting feeling you could ever experienced. Either you are a “fresh meat seafarer” who wants to be prepared on dealing with this or a seasoned sailor still struggling to cope up with the feeling, there is no better solution than to prepare for it during calmer seas.
To be able to give a cure to something, it is important to know the real cause behind it. First let us understand what it is. Seasickness is a motion sickness experienced on the water. During a rocking movement of the vessel, our sense of balance located in our ears is disturbed. Meanwhile, our senses of sight, the eyes, recognize a fixed world or stationary objects. The brain quickly interprets these contradictory signals and affects our digestion process. You may also recognize that our sense of smell becomes stronger and more sensitive too. In order for the brain to fix this conflict, it sends an alarm to the whole body to stop all activities. That’s the time we feel sleepy, tired, dizzy and nauseous. It’s also quite frustrating to know that during this period, time flies really, really slow.
“Sleeping! My favorite. Now I just have to go straight into bed when the weather starts its turmoil.” I can’t wait to dive into my bed after my watch while crawling all the way to it. But soon, I discovered that the more frequent I baby myself into bed, the less resistance I developed against seasickness. What’s more is that my cabin became the only place of heaven for me during bad weather.
Then I realized, what would happen if my service is needed during rough seas? What if some emergency develops (God forbid) in the middle of a bad weather or some jobs need to be done while rolling in order to avert an impending disaster? These thoughts weighed deeply than my seasickness so I developed and practice methods to beat seasickness.
Fresh Air, check. This is everybody’s favorite when a person becomes dizzy or nauseous. I can still recall an experience when we were having a wash paint inside the accommodation. I did this many times before on fair weather but this time, it was not. As I dip my rags into the bucket, I recognized the smell very terribly that I immediately ran to the toilet while thinking which would happen first, my arrival in the toilet or me puking. Good thing it was a tie!
After spewing out my lunch, I peeked outside, went to the bridge, smelt the strong fresh air and felt a lot better. Then I remembered what my captain told me (say it in an Old Gandalf Voice), “You have to feel the elements”.
Soft drinks and sodas, check. “You should try drinking soft drinks or soda. It releases the gas out of your stomach and you would feel better,” says my crewmate. So I gathered a handful of coke and waited for days to test if the legend is true. Then it happened. A massive Force 11 was to be expected within the next six hours. I was ready or so.
As soon as I started to feel nauseated and sensed that there was something in my neck ready to burst out, I took a sip of coke. I loved the smell and its sweet taste. Let’s forget sugar for a while. I took another sip and made a huge, long burp! (Excuse me). Man, it felt great. I wanted to do it again! So I drank and drank and burped for a several minutes. It lasted for a while. But soon, I was running out of gas! My stomach is full. Instead of belching, I found myself throwing up again. It felt really bad but it still tastes sweet.
Warm Water. Check. Since I sensed that my belly feels cold, I think I must warm it up from the inside. This made me feel good many times but not during bad weather. So I gave it a try. With a small sip, I can imagine the water passing my esophagus very slowly. It seems like puking and swallowing the water is fighting against each other. Also, I put the warm glass on my belly. It even felt better.
But as soon as my stomach reached its high level alarm, I found myself again yelling with my best friend- the toilet. I spent my time there much longer since I had more firepower!
Chocolates, check. I soon thought that since liquid fills me up so easily, I needed to eat something of better taste and smell. “Why not try chocolate,” another guy suggests. “It’s sweet and I tried it many times. For me, it has better effects,” he continued. My eyes gleamed. I always wanted to eat chocolate in an extra amount but was unable to do so. This time, I have my alibi.
But the problem is, before the bad weather comes, I find myself consuming all of my chocolates. I must confess, eating a whole Firklover is more enjoyable than watching the movie itself. Must. Have. Discipline! I managed to save a few and devoured them slowly during bad weather. But still, the call to throw up gets me by surprise. This time, I find it hard because the melted chocolate sticks in my throat. Bad idea. Next.
Willpower. This is by far the most effective method I had ever used in dealing with sea sickness. Surprisingly, this is also the most advice given to me by my crewmates. I often hear them say, “Masasanay ka rin (You’ll get used to it!).” But when you’re puking your guts out, it’s hard to believe that you could ever survive the whole ordeal.
I had the opportunity of mixing willpower with daydreaming. That is, while the vessel rides the rough sea, I think of some future plans- business, investments, family life, travels or dates perhaps. Sometimes, I try to replay my favorite part of a great movie, predict the next episode of anime series or let my imagination about anything run wild. As long as I can get my mind off the ship, my condition improved and would eventually get used to the weather.
Some of you might resort to sea sickness pills. I haven’t tried it actually but the thought and smell of it worsens my condition so I did not dare to. I also avoid eating smelly and soury foods while keeping away from obnoxious smells.
The most important thing is not to give up and focus on things that shifts your attention. It might also be helpful to look at your pay check to motivate you to hold on.
May the winds be on your favor.