Sailing and Seasickness: How to Minimize the Effect and Enjoy Your Trip

10 November 2023

Seasickness sailing

Sailing is a thrilling and adventurous activity that allows you to explore the vastness of the sea and experience the freedom of being on the water. However, for both professional sailors and everyday cruisers, seasickness can be a common problem that can quickly turn a dream holiday into a nightmare. In this article, we will explore the causes of seasickness and provide you with practical tips on how to plan for it and minimize its effects, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable sailing experience.

Understanding Seasickness

Seasickness is caused by a conflict between different parts of your balance mechanism. Your inner ear, known as the vestibular system, is responsible for sensing gravity and motion. Normally, the signals from your inner ear align with the information received from your other senses, such as vision. However, when you’re on a boat, this alignment is disrupted. While your eyes perceive a stationary environment, your vestibular system detects constant motion, resulting in a disconnect that can trigger seasickness.

The symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe nausea, headaches, and dizziness. Even experienced sailors like Chris Nicholson and Tracy Edwards have been known to suffer from seasickness. It’s a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of their sailing experience.

Planning for Seasickness

  1. Avoid Heavy Weather: The single most effective way to prevent seasickness is to avoid sailing in rough weather. When planning your sailing trip, check the weather forecast and choose a time when the sea is expected to be calm.
  2. Short Training Voyages: If you’re new to sailing, consider going on short training voyages before embarking on longer offshore trips. This will give you an opportunity to acclimatize to the motion of the boat and develop your sea legs.
  3. Medication: There are several over-the-counter medications available to help alleviate seasickness. Cinnarizine (Stugeron) and hyoscine (Kwells) are two commonly used options. These medications work by reducing the confusion in your balance mechanism. It’s important to read the instructions carefully and consult with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns.
  4. Alternative Remedies: Some people find relief from seasickness by using alternative remedies such as ginger. Ginger has long been recognized for its stomach-settling properties and can be consumed in various forms, such as crystallized ginger or ginger tea.

Minimizing the Effects of Seasickness

  1. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can worsen the symptoms of seasickness. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, even if you’re experiencing nausea. Consider carrying sports rehydration tablets that can be dissolved in water for quick recovery.
  2. Maintain Normal Routines: Stick to your normal routines while on the boat. Eat regular meals, stay hydrated, and get enough rest. Anxiety, fatigue, and hunger can contribute to the onset of seasickness, so taking care of your body is essential.
  3. Head for the Horizon: Being on deck with a view of the horizon can help alleviate the symptoms of seasickness. The visual reference of a stable point can help your brain reconcile the conflicting signals from your senses.
  4. Seasickness Bracelets: Some people find relief from seasickness by using acupressure wristbands. These bracelets stimulate the P6 point in the wrists, which is believed to alleviate motion sickness. While their effectiveness may vary from person to person, they are worth a try.

Testimonials from Experienced Sailors

“Watch the green ones, they’ll rush for the leeward rail and if they aren’t clipped on, there’s a strong chance they’ll go over.” – Wise old skipper

“I am ill every time it blows hard, and nothing but my enthusiastic love for the profession keeps me one hour at sea.” – Admiral Lord Nelson

These testimonials from experienced sailors highlight the universality of seasickness. It’s a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of their skills or experience. However, with proper planning and preventive measures, you can minimize its effects and enjoy your sailing adventure to the fullest.


Sailing is an exhilarating experience that allows you to connect with the sea and explore new horizons. While seasickness can be a common problem, it shouldn’t deter you from embarking on a sailing adventure. By planning ahead, taking preventive measures, and utilizing available remedies, you can minimize the effects of seasickness and fully enjoy your time on the water. So, set sail with confidence and embrace the beauty of the sea.