I have battled seasickness pretty much every time we sail. Calmish weather, medium weather, rough weather, you name it and I’m feeling queasy. It’s actually been a source of frustration for me since every time I get aboard to race or pleasure sail I take some kind of medicine (1/4 to 1/2 pill of Scopace usually) and end up feeling strange and sluggish. Over a period of days this gets rough and my time just isn’t as enjoyable, except for the last two races. That’s right, I tried the mythical “Ear Plug Trick for Seasickness” and it worked!

I read about this Wonder last year on Spin Sheet, on various blogs and Facebook group pages but it seemed to get mixed reviews overall so I was skeptical for sure. I’m pretty skeptical of most Holistic and New Age approaches to severe illness (don’t hate me). I’m sure it works for some but my personal experience has shown me otherwise.

I’ve tried Ginger candy and teas with minimal result. Oh no, when the boat is rocking and rolling you can FORGET about Ginger keeping me from losing my lunch. Seriously does that really work for people in fitful seas? I’ve also tried not taking anything or I’ve forgotten and the results were not good even with a strong mind to not focus on the sickness and plenty of horizon staring. I’ve thought about springing for the fancy wrist bands, head bands and neck bands but really they are too expensive to just not work. I know for sure the meds work.

Since it’s just Tate and myself on the boat I consider the issue of seasickness an issue of safety. I can’t just “be natural” and not take the sluggish pills in the hopes that I get my sea legs because if I get sick Tate is on his own to man the boat and visa versa. It’s really just not fair and can be dangerous, so I suck it up and take the damn things.

Besides the feeling of the medicine is WAY better than the feeling of being REALLY sick. And so I resigned myself to taking meds when we plan to be on the boat for long periods or during high alert racing when we need “all hands on deck” but maybe now there is another way.

Shana in town
Two weeks ago when our friends Brian and Shana came down from Baton Rouge to help crew the Sundowner race boat I mentioned it might be a good day to try the ear plug trick. I knew the winds were strong but I thought they were out of the SSE which would lead to an easyish sail. Shana brought enough orange ear plugs to last me the trip and we giddily put one in our non-dominant ear (left ear for right handed people).

We headed out into the lake with high hopes and half hearing to be met with an East wind about 15-20 knots. This made for considerably rougher conditions especially since the races are windward leeward.

I worried a bit about just having the plug in because when you are beating into the wind on Lake Pontchartrain the 2 hour race can feel like a LONG time if you are hanging over the rail but I resolved to give it a chance. I needed to see if it would work and to my GREAT surprise it did.

I didn’t feel a hint of sickness the whole race even though we had the rail buried and were going up and down and around in an uncomfortable way. I am convinced if not for the earplug I would have been sick as a dog. Shana also did not get sick but couldn’t say if those conditions would have made her sick in the first place as her sailing resume is just starting to grow.

Some might say this is a case of mind over matter, the placebo effect if you will, but I do not think that is the case. I have a lot of control over my faculties, consider myself strong and have kept myself from going over the edge into a dying mess when I was already sick all by tricking my mind. I truly believe this to be something that works, for me at least and in these “roughish” conditions.

Who’s to say if it would work in very terrible conditions? I suppose I’ll have to give that a try later but for now I think it’ll be good for most conditions (crossing fingers).

Supremely excited about the success of this trick I tried it again last night during another windward leeward race. The conditions weren’t as rough as the week before but we had the rail in the water and the boat on occasion would round up and roll about, much easier conditions than this have made me ill 9.5 out of 10 times before.

Walking out to the bowsprit to get this shot was no problem.
Rail in the water

Heeled over pretty far, still just fine!
Heeled over

And finally I was able to enjoy this gorgeous sunset with un-medicated eyes and a clear head. It worked again!
Sunset on a beautiful day

The only draw back is you lose about half your hearing on one side of your head…Although Tate would argue that’s not such a draw back after all:)

I can’t guarantee it will work for you but you should definitely give it a shot! (hint if you can still hear out of that ear your not doing it right). Happy rolling!