Seasickness

I’d been salt water fishing a half-dozen or so times from the Carolinas to the Gulf Coast before I first suffered a bout of seasickness. It was off the Florida keys on a warm cloudless day about six miles out in seas the captain described as “a little rough.”

Rough indeed. The sickness stuck with almost no warning and it was worse than I could have imagined. A wave of queasiness then a blast of nausea and vomiting. It was a cycle that repeated until we returned to shore. It turned the day into absolute misery.

It happened again last week off the Mississippi coast although, thankfully, it was a brief bout that didn’t totally spoil the day. One of my fishing partners, however, was not so fortunate. He suffered from a churning stomach early and often.

What causes seasickness? I don’t know and doubt anyone else does, either, expect that it has something to do with what your brain detects vs. what is actually happening. Of course, you don’t have to be on an off shore boat to fall ill. A car or airplane ride can trigger it (motion or road sickness if driving; air sickness when flying). Boat riders seem to suffer most often but you don’t have to be miles off shore for it to happen. (A companion once fell violently ill while we were fishing for striped bass on Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland.)

I’ve actually met a few misguided people who find seasickness humorous, so long as it happens to someone else. These folks all share one thing in common: They’ve never suffered from it.

Over-the-counter medications can help. Getting plenty of rest, eating light and laying off the booze before a trip helps, too. On the boat get plenty of fresh air. Drink plenty of water. Personally, I do better standing.

Should you fall victim to seasickness, there is one absolute cure and one that always works. I learned this from the captain piloting the keys charter many years ago.

“Boy,” he growled. “The only thing that’ll help you is the shade from an oak tree.”

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