Download the
entire article
as a PDF

Start Offshore Racing

4: Feeling green

Although seasickness can be debilitating for some, it’s very rare for it to be a barrier that prevents anyone sailing offshore. Many excellent sailors, including singlehanded round-the-world veterans such as Pete Goss, can succumb, but survive by learning what they need to do to avoid its worst effects. Also, your tolerance to a boat’s motion will improve with time — some people find they’re rough on the first windy offshore of a season, but are okay for the rest of the summer.

Generic advice about avoiding seasickness is to be careful about spending time below, which can rapidly bring on a feeling of nausea, especially for those who aren’t accustomed to the motion. An important exception to this is if you’re lying down with your eyes closed.

If you’re starting to feel ill it always helps to look at the horizon. Also make sure you stay warm and be aware that you may tend to withdraw from what’s going on in the world around you. This also means you’re less likely to take care of yourself and you may not even fully recognise yourself getting progressively colder and wetter. It also pays to look out for these signs in your fellow crew. If you do seriously succumb the best place by far is down below in a bunk, especially if you’re also cold or wet.

Many newcomers to offshore sailing are understandably resistant to this, because they know that being below can make matters worse. But the key thing is to trust that you will slowly improve when you’re lying down with eyes closed. In many cases this becomes the only way of avoiding the dangers of hypothermia.

Previous page:3 A harsh environment

You’ll be exposed to a harsh environment for much longer

Next page:5 Training

It’s normally best to start with doing some inshore yacht racing

More articles on starting sailing or racing