… so there I was, seasickness pills taken in plenty of time, nothing out of the ordinary with regard to weather or even the state of the sea, but I didn’t feel too good, and it was getting worse by the minute.
There is something about seasickness that makes the sufferer incapable of just about anything. It’s not the vomiting that is the problem (though that is certainly not pleasant), it’s the bit between the onset of the queasiness and the “losing your lunch” that is the worst.
As soon as the break-fast breaks free for a new life as fish food the world seems a better place, the sufferer is able to participate as an active crew member – until the feeling comes upon them once more – as it did to me yesterday… several times…
Yes, the vomiting is a relief. The gradual build of the queasiness, on the other hand, is the most debilitating thing I’ve ever experienced. At first you carry on your normal duties, but not as efficiently as you normally would. Then comes the point where you have to admit that you are feeling unwell, though you may persevere, and try to continue being of use, in reality you are now in the way of the efficient running of a racing boat. The best thing you can do is sit out of the way and let those with sea legs be about their business while you just sit their waiting for your fate. You don’t want to do anything and really aren’t paying attention to anything other than the feeling. Don’t ask me to pay attention to *anything* on the boat at all, if I do, it’ll make me feel worse, and then I’ll be sick. This may, of course, speed up my feeling better, but I’m trying so hard not to feel worse!
Seasickness seems to be made worse by losing sight of the horizon. By looking at the horizon what you are seeing, the pitching and rolling, matches what the semicircular canals in the ear are telling your brain *is* happening, and all is right with the world. If, on the other hand, you’re staring into a spinnaker bag looking for a tack or clew, everything you’re seeing is stationary – there are no reference points to show that you’re moving – the input from the eyes doesn’t match that from the ears, then the brain gets confused and, hey, here comes breakfast!
So, there we were, two of us on the fore-deck putting up a spinnaker and getting it all wrong (got the pole the wrong side of the jib sheet). All I can see is deck and canvas, and my stomach is not happy. It’s at this point the skipper comes forward to sort us out, and I have to mention that, “I’m sorry, but I’m feeling ill”. ‘Twas an understatement! I felt like shit. I just wanted to die. There is a quote I am reminded of:
At first you fear that you are going to die. Then it gets worse, and you fear that you shan’t.
I wandered about the boat holding desperately to anything that’d stop me falling off, and looking for somewhere to sit that would be out of the way – and that in itself was quite difficult on a thirty-two footer crewed by five in a race. So I sat as rail fodder for a while. It wasn’t the best place to be, if I was sick there it’d been all over me, the two next to me, and the two in the cockpit. The wind and spray in my face felt good, but it wasn’t enough. I dived across to the low side, and put my hear between guard rails for the inevitable. **That** is the point at which you dread not dying. Then there is more, and some more, and lastly a bit more. I shot a hand down to the water and splashed my face, got up and got back to being a crew member. Tack, tack, tack, gybe. And, oh, I’m ready to give the sea a good talking to again. It’s not until we come back into the shelter of tha harbour that I’m able to be more than the most basic of use.
Something I found out, however, is that the instinct for self-preservation is still strong, even during such times. While I was readying myself each time I was certain to wedge a foot against the bulwarks, one hand around a stanchion and the other on a grab rail – I wasn’t going anywhere!
Feeling better isn’t an instant thing, it takes a while for the brain to trust again what it is being told by the senses, and the feeling to subside. Even tying on the fenders wasn’t the best thing to be doing, but I managed. Mooring lines weren’t to much of a chore, and by the time we were in the lock I was almost back to my old self.
The seasickness pills I used were Stugeron 15. I’ve had two people tell me they’re crap, and just about everyone else says they’re great… only you have to take them the night before! I’ll try and remember that for next time.
Oh, the cure I mentioned at the beginning? It’s nothing new, it was known by Nelson, a lifelong sufferer, and he put it thus:
You’ll feel better if you sit under a tree.
Good day to you.