Dealing With Seasickness


By Capt. Mel Berman

Offshore fishing is fun, productive and exciting. And the chances of catching some big creatures are exponentially greater the further out one ventures. Certainly, trips offshore provide a great deal of adventure — a unique experience that can be marred by high seas and motion sickness. Those with more sensitive inner ears are the first to fall victims to this ages old mariner’s plague.

Recently I received an email from Ken Gacsy on a not so pleasant subject, but one with which all of us who venture offshore must occasionally confront—the scourge of seasickness. Here’s what ken had to say:

“Hey Captain Mel

A lot of people I take fishing on my boat get sea sick pretty quickly even if the seas are only 2 ft. They have tried Dramamine, wristbands, eating bananas, eating, not eating, etc. before the trip but nothing seems to work. Is there anything you can recommend preventative measures that work for you or anyone you know?

Thanks Ken”

Dear Ken:

First of all, some among us do have a greater propensity for getting sea sick than others. Scientists say it has something to do with the sensitivity of the inner ear. I do however think there’s more to it than that.

I believe such things as lack of rest, boozing heavily the night before a trip, eating a heart-burning greasy breakfast, even the opposite – having a totally empty stomach – can all cause this uncomfortable malady. Above all there is a psychological component to seasickness.
Some get this “Mal D Mare” by just stepping aboard a boat, with no rational reason to feel sick. But are there any reliable cures or preventative measures for this miserable condition?

The old standby, Dramamine almost always seems to get the job done. Most potential victims make the mistake of taking a Dramamine or other seasick remedy just before or as the vessel pulls away from port. Unfortunately, it is often too late for the effects of any seasick therapy to take effect.

When I was chartering offshore, I would always recommend that clients who had a tendency to get seasick take their Dramamine the night before. That way, the medication had a chance to work its way into one’s system. Then, following up with another dose before the trip at sea, one should be well inoculated against the ill effects of this embarrassing and very uncomfortable condition.

Having said that, what if you do get out on the deep blue and still get seasick? The last thing I would do would be to head below to the forward cabin or head. Those enclosed areas cause one to lose a sense of equilibrium because there is no visual reference as to where is up and where is down. Though the enclosed confines may seem and inviting cocoon to an ailing person, below is absolutely the last place they should be.

I would always insist that people turning a bit green around the gills stay out on deck. Then, if they keep an eye on the horizon they’ll have a mental reference point to minimize the annoying signals their inner ear is sending the brain.

The other positive aspect to staying out on deck is that, should they have to “chum the water” a “seasickie” can easily do their business over the side and not down below. (Clean-up on charter boats are not an enjoyable exercise as it is.)

Then there is one last desperate action one can take, aside from heading for the barn. That is to jump into the water. Feeling the cooler soothing water somehow relieves the symptoms and calms that sense of helplessness that a seasick person experiences.

Many say that after so many days at sea, even the most sensitive among us can become inoculated against this miserable malady. What ever the cause or cure, the good news is that seasickness is not fatal. It just feels that way.


I suffered from seasickness all of my life. I tried Dramamine, Bonine and everything else I could get my hands on. I took it the night before and various times before going out with the same results. Usually sick before we left the harbor.

When in the Caymans scuba diving someone gave me TripTone. I have never suffered for sea sickness since and I have been out a lot of times. You can get it at Eckerd’s drugs. It works if taken an hour before going out. Try it with the worst sufferers and good luck.