First let me start out by saying some people are going to get seasick no matter what they try to do to avoid the condition. I made that observation while still in high school. The band went on a trip to New York City, and one girl was sick on the Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan Island.

Make sure to take seasickness meds before you leave the dock.

Having said this, I also have a friend who at the time was the PR guy for Stren fishing line. I took him out in Delaware Bay on my 20-foot Bertram. The water was about as calm as it gets, and he was about as sick as anyone I have ever seem. At one point, he was heaving over the rail while his rod and reel disappeared into the bay. He didn’t seem to care about the rod and reel. He said he would put it on his expense report.

It was around this time that Scopolamine hit the shelves as a motion sickness cure. My friend tried it on his next open water trip and felt fine. As a side effect, he and his wife were trying to have a kid (I offered him one of mine, but he said they really wanted their own). Shortly after his first dose of Scopolamine, they were pregnant. Can’t say for sure, but it worked for them.

If you want to try Scopolamine, you should consult your doctor. The drug can have side effects, other than getting your wife pregnant, such as affecting your vision. It also makes your mouth dry.

If you are going to use motion sickness drugs, do so before getting on the boat. When I had my TV show out of Norfolk, VA, my camera man and I went on a giant bluefin tuna trip during the winter out of Hatteras Inlet. It was pretty rough, and as soon as Mike started looking through the camera lens, he was sick. We dosed him up with over-the-counter drugs, but all they did was make him sleepy. He would kneel by the bench in the cabin until someone hooked up; then, he would stagger out to the cockpit, film the action, and stagger into the cabin and go back to sleep.

Then, there are those who deserve to be sick. A case in point was my cousin Dave. He was very anxious to go fishing in the ocean, so I took him and my son Roger out to a wreck about 15 miles from the Inlet. I had no idea he had spent most of the night before loading up on pizza and beer. It was pretty obvious what he had eaten as all of it came up as soon as we started fishing. Roger and I were catching sea bass at a decent clip and saw no reason to stop. After about an hour of dry heaves, we took pity and carried Dave back to the dock.

If you run a charter operation, you can count on having the occasional party show up on the dock still drunk. Some of these guys can go on like normal, but others don’t do as well. I had a three-man charter out of Virginia Beach where two of the three were still drunk at 6 a.m. when we left the dock.

As soon as I anchored up to chum for cobia, one of the drunks started chumming for me. The second drunk was giving his buddy a rough time until the booze started wearing off, and he got sick as well.

About that time a thunderstorm was passing by well north of us, but the two drunks insisted we had to go back to the dock. I explained the storm posed no threat to us, but they insisted. We were back before 10 a.m., and they paid the full fare and a nice tip as well.

It’s not only what you drink the night before a trip, but also what you eat. Stay away from greasy or spicy food. If something does not agree with you on dry land, it won’t stay with you on the Bay or ocean.

Once you get sick, do not go into the cabin or head. Not only will the confined space make you feel worse, it is a pain for the mate to clean up after you.

One final word, never heave over the windward rail.

Six Seasickness Tips:

  • Consult your doctor about Scopolamine or other meds.
  • Take seasickness meds before you leave the dock.
  • Don't drink heavily the night before a boat trip.
  • Also avoid greasy foods and spicy foods.
  • One sick, do not go into the cabin or head.
  • If you do get sick, do so over the leeward rail.

by Eric Burnley