Do you get seasick or are you afraid of getting seasick? How about the technique where you plug one ear and close one eye? Read on for a drug-free unique seasickness solution for sailors that actually works.
Going out for an enjoyable sail isn’t fun when you are hanging over the side puking your brains out but it doesn’t have to be this way. It might sound too easy to be true but I’m going to share with you a potential solution that just might change your life.
I’m Kim and I’m here to help make your passages more enjoyable and your boating life more amazing.
So what is the seasickness solution for sailors?
It’s to have options, test all the options and discover what works best. By knowing all the options available you can systematically try each one to determine what’s going to work for you.
That would be my standard logical response.
Heck – I’m the Checklists For Sailors author. I put everything into a checklist. Incidentally, not only do I have a seasickness checklist in my checklist guide but I actually have a whole other guide just on preventing seasickness.
But what I’m about to share with you is not in any of my guides and it has absolutely nothing to do with a checklist.
So, if you’re reading this you might be thinking that you’ve tried everything already – nothing works.
Well, I suffered terribly for four years of our cruising life but in my fifth year, my seasickness disappeared almost completely. I’ve now had a couple of years of sickness-free sailing and wow has it made my life so much better. And my husband and daughter are much happier to have me functioning as a human while sailing.
You might think that you’ve found a way to manage your seasickness and that’s the best you should expect. I used to think that too but I somehow proved myself wrong. I seriously don’t get seasick anymore. And if I do feel a bit queasy, usually because I moved my head too fast, I do a couple of techniques and I’m feeling great immediately.
And perhaps you think that you got carsick when you were a kid so it’s just part of who you are. I also got carsick – I had to always have a bag and change of clothes when we went on long drives.
Anyway, I’m going to explain the way I got rid of my seasickness.
And it’s such a simple seasickness solution for sailors that you won’t believe me. In fact, I’m sure you’ll think I’m nuts. That’s okay. I’m fine with that. I will have a smirk on my face when you eventually email me saying that you can’t believe it worked for you too.
But let me tell you what I tried throughout the years. I tried every pill possible – over-the-counter and prescription. At best they would put me to sleep and at worst I felt terrible and for way longer than the voyage.
I tried preventative things like not drinking coffee, or having alcohol the night before. I didn’t eat heavy foods.
Of course, I looked at the horizon, did some helming, and even used special glasses that were supposed to help trick my brain. I used the watch that sent electrical pulses into my body and the neck brace that did similar.
I used audio/sound therapy and had a book of affirmations to say to myself. And the list went on.
Nothing worked. And the seasickness was intermittent. It didn’t always happen. Sometimes it would when it was flat calm!
When we crossed the Atlantic Ocean I took a set of pills from New Zealand. One was caffeine and the other was an antihistamine pill. After seven days the fluid in my ears and tubes turned solid. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t hear for weeks and I still haven’t been able to dive again since the trip (2015).
So…what seasickness solution for sailors eventually worked?
The first thing I did was to become very conscious of what I was thinking and feeling before setting off for a passage. In the past I was nervous and I felt my muscles tighten. Especially my shoulders. They would shrug up. I wouldn’t want to eat and I didn’t breathe very well.
We moved our boat around quite a bit so it’s not like I had beginner’s nerves.
I wasn’t anxious because I was afraid to move. I was very competent with leaving a marina, pulling up anchor, or leaving a mooring. I wasn’t afraid in a logical way. I didn’t even really know that I was getting so tense until I started to pay attention.
After being this way for years it dawned on me that I was running an unconscious program. We are sailing to X which means I start to feel Y. The tension was automatic and it usually started before we left.
Then one day I had one of those weird woo-woo things happen to me.
At the time I had no idea how it was going to impact me and I certainly didn’t know that it would solve my seasickness issue.
I sat in the cockpit knowing that we were about to leave. Simon and I were only moving the boat from an anchorage into a marina so it was a very short trip. Just the same, I watched my body start to tighten up. It’s as if I was above myself looking at my body and thinking, ‘Why the heck are you doing this?’ I deliberately paid attention to my thoughts and body.
I remember thinking, ‘If I’m going to carry on sailing I don’t want to feel this way anymore. What’s the point?’
Next, I got up and started walking toward the anchor. Halfway up the port side, I heard myself say, ‘I am free. I am free. I am free.’ I then was looking at myself from above and I saw what looked like a taco shell unwrap from my whole body and fall to the deck.
In an instant, my body felt light and easy.
My shoulders dropped, I felt like a cloud and it was as if a switch went on. I pulled up the anchor and felt like a foreigner in my body. I felt good. I felt giddy.
Then I totally forgot about the incident and went on with life. A week later we sailed out of the marina and headed north for an eight-hour sail. Everything was great. About four hours into the sail it suddenly dawned on me that I felt great.
I mean – I felt really great. Was it a fluke?
No fluke. We then sailed several times more and in some rough seas. I felt a bit queasy but I just stood up, got some fresh air on my face, and used the stomach acupressure point for seasickness. Within seconds I was fine again. And I’d also say, ‘I am free. I am free. I am free.’ My need for a seasickness solution for sailors was over.
Side note – the stomach acupressure point is about three fingers above your belly button. You just push and can feel a bit of a pulse. It’s supposed to stop the stomach from telling the brain that there is an upset in the tummy.
When I said ‘I am free.’ My shoulders would drop and I’d feel light.
From time to time, if I go down below and it’s too choppy, or I get disoriented I will feel those old feelings of illness sneak in. But then I say, ‘NO’! I get fresh air, move about, do my stomach thingy and I recover within seconds.
And this isn’t the craziest part of my story.
The craziest part is that everyone I tell this story to later calls or emails me to say that they’ve managed to let their taco shell fall off too and no longer experience seasickness. Or, at the very least, they felt a definite reduction in symptoms.
Maybe they didn’t have the whole visualization of the taco shell but one woman told me that she felt as if I gave her permission to stop feeling seasick and so she did. I think she realized that she had a choice.
Is that really what it boils down to? A choice?!
Well…I think seasickness comes from an unconscious feeling of fear. Fear causes stress in the body. The stress then comes out as seasickness. We don’t know it’s happening because programs are running in the background of our mind/body and we’re not paying attention to them.
If you’re like me and you haven’t been sailing your whole life, learning a new skill or a new lifestyle can bring up several insecurities. On the outside, I’d say, ‘I’ve got this,’ but unbeknown to me, on the inside, I was terrified.
When I decided to be free I decided to drop my fear. I decided to feel my body tighten and look at it. When I looked at the tightness it seemed like I shined a light on something that was hidden in a dark closet. I was then able to say, ‘no – I don’t want this feeling anymore.’ To my surprise, my body agreed and I relaxed.
What kind of fear did I shine a light on?
Fear of the unknown. Fear of not having control. Fear of living. Fear of dying. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of being awesome. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m a recovering control freak that is afraid of everything.
So…I think there are a variety of ways to reduce fears. One is to first realize you have them.
I got so seasick when we started off. I’d vomit over and over again until we got to land. It was horrible. After that happened several times I then had the compounding fear of getting seasick. I was afraid of sinking, afraid of hitting another boat, afraid of taking on water, afraid of… and then I became afraid of vomiting!
If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to nip this in the bud quickly. And if you’ve been suffering for a while, it’s time to do something about it!
Aside from paying attention to your body and consciously telling your body, that it is free, another helpful thing to do is to face your fears. If something makes you nervous or anxious about boating, don’t tuck it away and pretend it’s not an issue. Look at it.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.
I tell a story at the beginning of our Boat Safety Course about how I spent our entire Atlantic Crossing (18 days of open sea sailing) worried about how the Liferaft worked. It might sound crazy to you but I’d lay awake a night wondering how the liferaft would be of use if the boat sank quickly. Life rafts are tied to the boat with a rope. When you push the liferaft over, the rope pulls and the liferaft deploys.
If the boat sinks fast, you’ll have no time to cut the rope and the liferaft will go down with the sailboat.
So…first of all, it’s totally uncommon for a boat to sink quickly. Most boats take days to actually sink. Secondly, the rope that is attached to the sailboat has an inherent weakness and if the boat does sink quickly, the rope will break and the raft will float to the surface.
I spent 18 days worried for no reason. In fact, I think it took me another couple of years before I finally discovered how the liferaft actually worked. No – I’m not proud of that. It just goes to show you that somewhat intelligent people can have silly fears that they fail to face and all it does is cause problems. Problems like seasickness!
Action – grab a pen and write down everything you’re afraid of in relation to your boating future. Shine a light onto what you’re afraid of so that you can shine a light on it or even research it and put your fears to rest. I often failed to look into things because I thought they’d make me more fearful. I didn’t want to know what to do if we ran aground. Nor did I want to understand what to do if a thru-hull fitting broke. Had I understood that these things are normal to happen AND there are very specific steps to take to remedy them I would have been far less fearful!
There are thousands of extremely happy sailing cruisers that are truly living the life. When they sail, they feel great. When they’re enjoying a beautiful anchorage, they feel fantastic.
Don’t feel the fear and do it anyway. Feel the fear, look at it, and tell it to go take a hike.
Before I bring this article to a close, if you’re concerned about understanding what it takes to create a safe boating environment, I created a video about the Boat Safety Blueprint. It outlines the six areas of boat safety so you know what they are and how you can ensure you’ve done everything you can to prevent issues and tackle challenges quickly and easily.
In addition to the video, you’ll also get a FREE Boat Safety Audit PDF so that you can quickly determine what safety equipment you have, what’s missing, what needs to be serviced, and create a location finder so that everyone aboard can reference the audit and know exactly where your life/boat saving equipment is located.
Watch the video on our sister website, CruisingCourses.com here: Boat Safety Blueprint Video
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