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Years ago, a cousin and her then-new husband set out on the ultimate honeymoon: sailing the 35-foot boat they lived on near New Orleans to New Zealand. The Panama Canal, the wild beauty of the Pacific, the moonrise as their companion. It was a dream realised. But a few days after mooring in Hiva Oa, after the long passage from Panama, they set out to start exploring…and she became tremendously ill. After that point, she would spend at least the first day of every passage being sick, but chose not to use pharmaceutical remedies. This unpleasant phenomenon can happen to anyone, even the most experienced of sailors. Your yacht charter isn’t long enough for such nonsense, so how can you decrease the chances of anyone on your vacation being laid low?
Again, seasickness doesn’t discriminate. It just happens when one of our three balance sensors stops playing nice with the others – vision, inner ear, and sensory nerves. An experienced sailor knows that it’s best to be above deck, focus on the horizon and try to keep the functions in balance – so if you’re travelling with children or a less experienced adult, you might have to strenuously encourage them to not to spend too much time below deck (which is where they may want to be if they start feeling ill).
While prescription drugs might seem like overkill for a weeklong charter in calm waters, you can’t put a price on peace of mind. Scopoderm patches, containing the drug hyoscine, are best for prevention and are available for children. Apply it at least 24 hours before boarding your charter. If you really want an over-the-counter solution, the antihistamine cinnarizine also works to stabilise the body’s balance sensors.
If the nausea has already struck, ondansetron is the strongest remedy – used by medics on racing yachts. It, too, can safely be taken by children. Contrary to popular belief, an empty stomach will not help prevent motion sickness, so get everyone to eat a light meal with starches and non-acidic, non-spicy foods about an hour before boarding.
When you provision your boat, don’t forget to include those common items that will help should nausea come on – plain crackers, ginger ale or sparkling water, and the like. Plan ahead to ensure your yacht charter mates are healthy enough to enjoy their vacation to the fullest.