Sea Sick on the Indian Ocean- By Carmen


Never having had a case of sea sickness during my many voyages, totalling around 8000nm, I was extremely surprised when I started feeling waves of queasiness almost as soon as St Francis Bay disappeared behind the horizon on our trip from South Africa to Reunion Island.  I have always claimed to having a stomach of steel, never experiencing motion sickness and being able to eat street food from some of the grimiest holes in India with not one case of the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’.

At first I tried to convince myself that I was just finding my sea legs after an extended time on land and the weird feeling in my stomach would soon pass. Perhaps it was just nerves or excitement for the long passage ahead of us. I couldn’t possibly be sea sick!

It’s all in the eyes, reading could not even take my mind off my sea sickness.
It turned out I couldn’t hold down my first meal of the passage, a Thai green curry, one of my favorite meals, although not so tasty coming back up.  I tried to keep up a cheerful composition, but after day 3 of continuous vomiting, I felt like a brain dead zombie and was so weak that just getting in and out of my bunk required maximum effort. I somehow still managed to do all of my watches and even cook for the rest of the crew on my cooking day, although eating hardly anything myself. The scariest thing was knowing that there was possibly still two more weeks left of the crossing and I couldn’t bear the thought of feeling like this for even a few more days.

Some of the rough weather we experienced on the crossing
The weather may have had a part to play in my uneasy stomach, we were really beating into it, Delos rode up waves and then crashed down the bottom of them tirelessly. There was no rhythm in the movement of the yacht and waves often seemed to come from strange directions, but I had sailed in rough weather before and had never taken a sea sickness pill in my life.
I fully believe in mind power and spent hours trying to ‘think’ my sickness away as well as meditating on positive mantras and pictures of nature and health. Mind over matter, right? At times I felt better and had bouts of energy but I still couldn’t eat anything and even the smell of food cooking in the galley completely nauseated me. I couldn’t think of one palatable meal and even plain crackers and water left me feeling ill.
It was time to turn to the pills, to be honest I probably should have resorted to them days before. But I have never been a pill popper and medication for me is always a last resort.  At first they didn’t really seem to work and then on the morning of day 6 I woke up feeling slightly more human and was brought back to life with a piece of cheese on toast and a glass of Apple juice, I will never forget how delicious that kiddy-sized meal was. It was an amazing feeling to get my appetite back, although my stomach had shrunk quite a bit after my many days of ‘feeding the fishies’.

I truly have a new found empathy for all those prone to sea sickness, it is really one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced.  Thankful to be feeling better and have my usual sparkle back, I began to enjoy the passage and spend less time in my bunk and more time outside sailing, although I still had bouts of nausea during rough weather and even threw up a couple more times after my ‘recovery’. After 15 days out on the ever moving ocean, I was ecstatic when we spotted still, stable, solid land. Glorious land! The one and only cure for the sea sick!

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