“I get seasick” – New to Yachting – Myths and Truths about sailing in the Mediterranean
Misconceptions about seasickness on a sailboat
Seasickness, real or perceived, is the first of all the fears of those who approach a sailing vacation for the first time. Let’s discuss the facts and make some suggestions to ease your mind, and tummy, if necessary.
In 40+ years professional experience in sailing, we have not seen anybody suffering from actual chronic seasickness, on these short distance sailing navigations. We mostly see people who are afraid of suffering seasickness when they find themselves on a yacht. Some people experience motion discomfort on big ferry boats, fishing boats or motor/power yachts and think that same discomfort will translate on a sailing yacht. Let us reassure you right now: nothing could be farther from truth!
Excellently balanced structure of a sailboat
First: the hull of a sailboat is 2/3 under the water level, hence only 1/3 above the surface. Because of this structure, sailing yachts face the ocean and the waves quite differently than a flat, shallow bottomed power boat, fishing boat or a ferry. A sailing boat’s movement is very smooth. It cuts through the waves as butter, as opposed to a flat ferry ship. A sailboat is excellently balanced on the water, as most of its weight is in its keel, the lowest point of the vessel. This is not the case with power boats and especially catamarans.
Outdoors and life in nature
Second: on a sailing yacht you will spend the entirety of your day outdoors, in the cockpit shade or sunbathing under a refreshing breeze, as the boat is slowly navigating in all peace, serenity and silence. You will be inhaling the most refreshing and nourishing ocean air, packed with minerals and nutrients, vaporised at every splash of the wave. You will be looking at the most amazing scenery and panoramas, different every day. You will be peacefully admiring the coastal line, the horizon of an infinite ocean line always at your sight, the fresh breeze accompanying your every day. This is a very different experience than that of a ferry boat, power boat, fishing boat or – worse – a catamaran, where you are in a closed and crowded space with possibly the odor of fuel and no visual cues where you are. That is a mixture that sickens even the best of sailors! Hopefully you can understand these two completely opposite worlds.
Physical effects of irrational fear
Last: Let’s not to forget the psychological aspect of this fear. The more scared you feel, the more your stomach contracts and tightens. Anxiety makes you more prone to stomach discomfort, which is true for any stressful situation. However once you see you are doing absolutely fine, usually the moment you step on a sailboat, your fears will disappear. So just relax, lie back, enjoy the scenery and start unplugging from your hectic world.
Simple practical steps to prevent it
If you still think you might suffer from motion sickness, there are a few practical steps you could take preventatively to avoid discomfort. For the first day or two, try to avoid high-sugar foods or anything that could upset your stomach or cause indigestion. A few notable recommendations for the first day or two are to avoid nutella, very sweet jams, too much milk, fizzy drinks, and too much coffee. Go for drier and possibly savoury foods such as cereals, bread, crackers and plain hot or cold drinks. Your tummy will be happy with these.
While onboard and for the first few days, whilst in navigation, try to avoid going inside the boat yourself, and rather, instead ask for a member of crew to retrieve items for you.
As evidenced, the majority of this fear is actually psychological. A few very simple practical steps will help avoid any discomfort. If you still want to make sure you take all precautions, arm yourself with motion sickness medication, patches or bracelets – we have seen they all work great!