How To Not Get Seasick On A Fishing Boat
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With absolutely no thoughts about how to not get seasick, you finally receive the call you’ve been waiting for. Your friend with the boat down in Florida has extended you the invite of a lifetime. A three-day offshore fishing trip from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas. Your thoughts immediately go to visions of sipping a Corona in the sun, just kicking back and waiting for that first strike. You can almost hear the line screaming off your reel, fighting the trophy fish of your dreams. Awesome right?
But then you remember it’s been years since you’ve set foot on a boat or been out on the open seas. So you quickly pivot your concerns from what terminal tackle to use to what you should be doing to prevent yourself from hurling your breakfast over the side of the boat.
I found myself in this exact situation not too long ago, and believe me, knowing how to not get seasick is no laughing matter.
What Causes Seasickness?
The National Ocean Service (NOA) states that seasickness is the result of a conflict in the inner ear where the human balance mechanism resides and is caused by a vessel’s erratic motion on the water.
So how to not get seasick while fishing?
I like to prepare myself the day before the trip and stick to a few key tactics to make sure I won’t be punching myself a one-way ticket to puke town. Consider these strategies, and they should drastically improve your knowledge of how to not get seasick.
Avoid overindulging in alcohol the night before
I can’t overstate this point enough. I have seen far too many fishing trips ruined by drinking too much the night before a planned outing. Showing up on the docks hungover from the night before is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, when you start the day with a headache and a queasy stomach, there’s little that adding a swaying boat navigating in three-foot to five-foot waves will do to make you feel any better. You would be wishing that you knew how to not get seasick!
Don’t drink alcohol on the boat
I also fight the urge to crack a cold one during the actual trip. There’s really nothing better than a cold beer when your outdoors enjoying the company of good friends, but this too is asking for trouble. My friends and I chartered a full-day deep-sea trip about a year ago. My buddies that I know to have little boating experience dragged a big cooler full of beer and booze onto the deck. They were fine when we were idling through the intercoastal, knocking back beer after beer, but every single one of them that ignored my words of caution was green in the gills five minutes after hitting the open water. They paid the price for no awareness of how to not get seasick. So I avoid drinking alcohol of any kind when I know I have the chance to do some serious fishing.
Consider your positioning on the boat
This is another big one. If you are prone to seasickness or start to feel that your equilibrium is taking a turn for the worst, you will want to get yourself positioned in the direction the boat is going. Fixing your line of vision on a stable horizon is also helpful.
Remain above deck
When you feel that you are getting seasick, the first inclination might be to go below deck and get comfortable lying down in a bed or chair below. But, trust me, that is the opposite of how to not get seasick! Within the belly of a vessel, your eyes have no way to get a bearing to work with the equilibrium system of your inner ear to help your body get back to some degree of normalcy.
I clearly remember the first time I was a passenger on a boat, and it isn’t the best of memories. I thought it was cool to find a full kitchen and bed set up on the ship, so I laid down for a snooze as we took off. After that, I’ve never felt worse. Enough so that I still remember it now some thirty years down the road. Oh how I wished I knew how to not get seasick at that time.
The trick is to stay above deck with a somewhat wide stance and to try and stay active. Physical activity seems to calm the adverse effects of the boat’s motion and the body’s general disoriented state in that environment. Luckily for those of us with rod and reel in hand, staying busy is usually not an issue. Between rigging lines and hopefully reeling in trophy fish, anglers often have many ways to keep their bodies moving.
Choose Your Meals Wisely
If you’re looking into how to not get seasick, you should be aware of the need to avoid downing a big greasy breakfast before you climb on board. Going back to the deep sea charter with my buddies, those same guys with the beer cooler were also downing Italian assorted hero sandwiches minutes before we hit rough water. You guessed it, those Hero’s didn’t stay down for very long. A good rule of thumb is to avoid heavy, greasy, or acidic foods and heavily caffeinated beverages.
What should you eat to avoid getting seasick?
Fresh, nutritious whole foods that you know will sit well are best. Think oatmeal, fruits, and vegetables, along with lean proteins. Save the greasy bacon and eggs and the double burgers with fries for when you get your legs back on dry land. As always, with any outdoor activity, it is a good idea to make an effort to stay hydrated with bottled water or carbonated seltzer water. Knowing what to consume is a key aspect of how to not get seasick.
Do OTC medications or anti-motion sickness devices work?
There are several preventative treatments on the market, all of which have their merits. A number of my fishing friends swear by a combination of each of these.
Ginger root liquid extract
Ginger root liquid extract is an all-natural over-the-counter treatment used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness. Scientific literature suggests that these benefits may result from Ginger’s ability to keep digestive function stable and blood pressure consistent. However, like many supplements, these findings are not FDA-approved.
Dramamine is an oral over-the-counter antihistamine that works to combat seasickness by blocking receptors in the gut that trigger nausea in the brain. Dramamine is FDA-approved as a pharmacological treatment to combat nausea, vomiting, and seasickness.
The Scopolamine Transdermal patch requires a prescription from your doctor. The patch has been proven to be somewhat effective in reducing motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting. The patch is placed behind the ear and delivers medication through the skin. It works by reducing the effects of acetylcholine on the central nervous system to produced the desired benefits.
Sea-Bands are an over-the-counter bracelet worn on the wrist that exerts pressure and stimulates the Nei-Kuan acupressure point. It has been proven to reduce seasickness as effectively as any oral or prescription options available.
With a bit of thoughtful planning and a few of these simple tips, you will know how to not get seasick and have a far better chance of drastically improving your enjoyment of this great sport.
Just remember, if you do end up getting seasick, don’t be embarrassed, it happens to the best of the best of us! After a little razzing from your friends, you’ll be back to fish another day. Your knowing how to not get seasick will help the next time around!