It could strike at any time, at any moment the dreaded curse of the seasickness monster could affect any one of us... it has no mercy and certainly couldn't care less about your boat cred.
For me it's as soon as I do my wet suit up and don the weight belt, then it's hold tight to the RIB all the way. For others it can happen at depth. Eeych! Luckily I am one of those people who feels nauseous rather that falling into the projectile vomit group. I must confess at this point though that, yes I have puked and yes, didn't give a damn who saw, laughed or winced at me. It's good to chuck. But how to avoid it?
Don't look down
If you're nauseous don't put your head between your legs nor go below deck where you can't see out. Keep your eyes on a fixed land based object or the horizon. Try focusing by talking to your buddy, I wouldn't suggest going as far as a smile but remaining positive can help in aiding taking your mind off the situation. It's also a good idea to position yourself in the middle of the boat where there is less motion.
If there is a toilet on board, don't lock yourself away. You'll feel worse and after a while everybody else will be ready to kill you.
Avoid engine fumes
On one boat trip I found myself sat next to the engine, very quickly I felt the saliva in my mouth change and...over we go! If you are prone to seasickness move yourself to the front of the boat away from the fumes of the engine they can ruin your dive even if the sea is reasonably calm.
Avoid fatty feeds
On lots of diving weekends around the UK our club will stay over in the good old-fashioned bed and breakfast. Mmmm, the traditional fried English breakfast? If you have any doubt about your state of queasiness avoid all fatty and rich foods. Leave them until after your dive.
The best thing I've used has been a specially devised seasickness medication. However:
- It is essential to consult a doctor if you are taking any drugs before diving.
- Read the label of your chosen medication as some tablets can have side effects.
- Most medications are ineffective when you are already feeling sick. Have a nice cup of tea, some toast and take your tablets well in advance of going near the water.
Get in the water - fast!
I try to enter the water quicker than everyone else, so as a buddy pair you should be prepared to get pre-dives checks out of the way as soon as possible.
Likewise if medication has been forgotten and I've just finished the dive I surface, make sure my kit is together on board, grab my mask and fins and jump straight back in. I've bobbed for 20 minutes in the water whilst holding on to a rope, waiting for the rest of the divers to ascend. OK - it may be a tad anti-social but it's better than my buddy holding my hair back while I wail obscenities at the ocean!
Feeding the fish...
I've mentioned on the surface sickness and not touched the vomiting issue under water. You can throw up into your regulator although there is a possibility to clog it and render it inoperable. Removal of the regulator could result in the inspiration of water remember that when you are sick everyone has a tendency to gasp, this is involuntary and you have no control over it.
A handy procedure is to hold your regulator out at the corner of your mouth with the purge valve depressed. In this way clogging will not occur and the chance of you inhaling water is greatly reduced. It's a strange sensation at first and should be practised within a pool environment until mastered. (See Adeline's guide opposite)
My biggest tip though is before descending, take your time to adjust to being in the water and if you're feeling fine then continue. If you're not happy then don't feel pressurised to dive, boycott it. I have done this on a couple of occasions and for different reasons I always keep in mind that it's my hobby and my sport and I enjoy it with a passion.
Seasickness bands: cure or placebo?
Sandy Carter soon discovered that her love for diving was getting somewhat upstaged by her urge to vomit every time she boarded a boat.
"I didn't fancy taking the drugs, so I got these Travel Bands. They cost about £4 from Boots and fit quite snugly under the wrist seals of your wetsuit or drysuit. And they work. Don't ask me how, but they do!"
Out on a boat in the Red Sea with a bunch of heaving dive blokes, Sandy suggested they try the bands. "They absolutely poo-poohed the idea, there was universal cynicism. But one morning I persuaded a bloke to put them on. There we were, out at sea and he felt absolutely fine. But believing that this was nothing to do with the bands, he decided to remove them as we approached the dive site in order to kit up. And as soon as he took them off, that was it -
sea porridge city!
So... these blokes seemed much more comfortable dosing themselves up on seasickness pills and flopping about like a bunch of Zombies?
"Oh YES!" laughs Sandy "Unfortunately they took the view that the bands are some kind of mind-trick which is obviously far more dangerous than poisoning your system with a load of chemicals and then going diving!"
Hmm... fear of witchcraft has clearly left a serious dent in the modern male psyche. Those in need of suitably scientific (and expensive!) version should visit www.reliefband.com
Dive Girl confession
We were trimix diving mid-channel... lots of boat-rolling and fiddly kit. Inevitably some poor tech bloke lost his breakfast. He was so loaded down with cylinders that he couldn't move and had to sit there, half-digested baked beans plastered down his smart black drysuit. Luckily someone had the sense to rinse him down with a bucket of seawater : I was far too weak with laughter to render assistance ~
No NO & NO!
Your buddy is about to puke. just don't...
- Discuss last night's curry in graphic detail
- Have a competition to see which object on board most closely matches the colour of their face
- Sit opposite them with fellow divers, swaying backwards & forwards in unison and SAYing 'Blimey it really is starting to kick up out here...'
The science bit:
Seasickness is basically motion sickness: it involves the vestibular apparatus of the inner ear, and visual/perceptual disorientation occurs.
The ear canals communicate with the brain and eyes which help to maintain our balance. When rocked about in a boat these canals send masses of messages to the brain and cause it to overload.
There is so much movement that the brain gets confused, nausea results and ... Technicolour yawn time.