Overcoming Seasickness on a Fishing Boat

Almost everyone working at sea in Alaska will eventually experience some degree of motion sickness, and anyone who has ever succumbed to seasickness will agree that it’s one of the most uncomfortable experiences of their lives. While the myth persists that seasickness is just a state of mind, it actually has well-documented physical causes. As a ship rocks back and forth, the inner ear, which is responsible for sensing direction and maintaining equilibrium, sends confusing messages to the brain, causing nausea.

People vary in their susceptibility to seasickness; some never get seasick and others continue to get spells of seasickness any time the sea gets particularly rough. Most people, though, are only seasick for the first few days on board and then don’t experience any more problems. Generally, the larger the ship the less intense the rocking and resulting seasickness will be. The very large floating processors are often anchored in sheltered bays, so their workers usually have no problems with seasickness at all.

One cure for motion sickness is to take drugs such as Dramamine, but these cause drowsiness, and you may have to take them for your entire fishing trip if you want to completely avoid any motion sickness. As one domestic observer who often works on smaller longliners and trawlers told us:

    “I’m a chronic sufferer of seasickness and suffer at the beginning of every trip. The first few days you pray you’ll die. It feels like your stomach’s in your throat. Of course, because you’re at sea the source of your problems – the big swells – continues. Some people take Dramamine or wear a patch and never have a problem, but you have to keep taking medication for the whole trip or you get sick when you stop. I prefer to suffer the first few days and get used to it so I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the voyage.”

There are a few things you can do to overcome seasickness. These include staying in the middle of the boat to minimize the effects of rolling, getting plenty of fresh air, and eating fruits and crackers and drinking water instead of fried foods and soda. Most veterans, however, say that none of these measures really helps much and the only thing to do is persevere, realize that others in your crew are probably experiencing the same thing, and remember that nothing lasts forever.

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