Blackfish (tautog), wreck fishing chartersStriped bass (stripers) charters, trolling and chunking Karen Ann II - New Jersey Charter Boat35' Custom Downeast Sportfisherman / New Jersey Charterboat Bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, chunking and trolling, inshore and canyonMako shark, offshore fishing
  Wrecks - Bottom - Trolling - Inshore - Offshore 23 April 2018
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Dealing With Seasickness (Mal de Mer)

If we were meant to live in the sea, then we would all have gills and fins. Since we as humans are land anmials, we do not have the biological adaptations for living on the sea, and this includes our stomaches. I have seen all too many a fisherperson's day ruined by the onset of mal de mer, so I wanted to share some tips I've learned over the years.

Motion sickness, while most people associate it with having a weak stomach, is actually the result of issues that involve the inner ear. This is where we derive our sense of balance and movement, and motion sickness is mostly a case of the brain misinterpreting the "overload" of motion we are experiencing. This will then lead to the headache, nausea and eventual vomiting we all associate with being seasick.

Whether or not you will succumb to seasickness is often determined well before you ever set foot on the boat. Before sailing, use the following guidelines -

  1. Get a good nite's rest. A well rested body can better deal with the "motion of the ocean".
  2. Avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages, both the nite before your trip and during the trip. Alcohol results in dehydration of the body, which contributes to the onset of seasickness.
  3. Avoid greasy foods and caffeinated drinks. Forget that sausage, fried eggs and homefries with the second cup of coffee. The stomach has to work overtime to process these items, and they bring on nausea more quickly than anything else I've seen. Instead, have a breakfast high in carbohydrates, including breads (including english muffins and bagels) and grain cereals. Drink orange juice and tea (decaf).

At sea, avoid the following activities if you are subject to seasickness -

  1. Stay above decks. Limit your time below decks and in enclosed spaces. The head is the worst place for you.
  2. Avoid activities that introduce eye strain and concentration like reading and tying knots. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
  3. Get fresh air. On warm day's you will probably be sitting outside the wheelhouse, but on cooler days when you are enjoying the warmth of the cabin heater, don't be afraid to stick your nose outside every few minutes for a breath of fresh air.
  4. Follow the same guidelines for eating as prior to sailing. Leave the greasy chicken home and limit the oil/vinegar on that hoagie. Drink lots of water.

There are some days that no matter what you do, you start to get those pangs of motion sickness. Even I feel them on a regular basis, but I have just learned to recognize and cope with them. The first signs are usually a bit of a headache/dizziness and a dry mouth; you may also begin to feel overheated. Many people write off these signs and proclaim, "I'm fine", but now is the time for action to save your day. Here are the things I do when I start to feel less than perfect -

  1. Eat something, preferably a bread product. I usually have a bagel with me, or I'll eat half a sandwich. Having something in your stomach helps avoid the "queasy" felling that comes next.
  2. Drink water and/or a coke product. I never leave the dock without a bottle of coke. I like having gatorade or some other sports drink, as well, as that helps avoid the dehydration that comes with motion sickness.
  3. Have a life saver or an antacid tablet. The antacid tablet helps to settle the stomach some, I believe.
  4. Get cool by taking of the extra sweatshirt, sticking my nose out into the breeze, or putting an ice cube on the back of my neck to cool down.

Once seasickness has taken hold, there is little you can do. Some people empty their stomaches and can get through the day, but most don't recover before setting foot on dry land. The good news is that no matter how bad it gets, you will get through. If you are going to be sick, do it over the side of the boat, as going below and trying to use the head below decks is only going to make things worse. Rinse your mouth out with water, and just try to get comfortable. Eat a little something if you can to help settle your stomach, or at least give you something to throw up again because the only thing worse than vomiting is the "dry heaves". I see a lot of people think that after throwing up once they will be fully recovered, and go back to doing all the things wrong that contributed to their feeling the way they do. Try following the same steps as when you had the first signs, and hopefully you can get through it.

Finally, if you want to be further improve your chances of making it through the day, there are a number of anti-motion sickness medications available. The most popular is probably the dramamine/bonine tablets, but it is important to follow the directions for taking them (usually one well before and another just before the trip) as taking them once motion sickness has set in isn't going to help. Out of all the "remedies" I've seen/heard about (dramamine, wrist bands, ginger tabs, etc.), the only thing I've seen be nearly 100% effective is the scopolamine (Trans-derm scop) patch that goes behind the ear. This is not over-the-counter and will require a prescription from your doctor, but I can honestly say I've never seen anyone sick who was wearing one.

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