Antiseasickness Product Hurl-off, Survey Winner

In our informal survey our readers overwhelmingly voted for Stugeron as their remedy of choice for seasickness. The following comment from Attainable Adventure Cruising correspondent, Colin Speedie, is representative and especially useful in that he has had a lot of victims…err crew, to experiment on:

I’ve been very lucky so far and never once felt ill, but it’ll get me one day. However, I do have the distinction of having made many, many people seasick, and have been thrown up on at least three times for my pains, so I can claim a little experience. On all of my research cruises (over 1000 participants) we sent all volunteers a fact sheet on what to bring, etc. For seasickness we recommended Stugeron, BUT, 2 to be taken the day before joining us, then 1 from then on. Stugeron is systemic, and of all the treatments has fewest side effects, and seems to work for most people. The only side effect is drowsiness at first, so by taking them the day before, you get that over before boarding. I’ve had people who have (in the past) been chronically seasick and this worked for them wonderfully well.

I have a criticism of Stugeron, that probably also applies to other drugs too, and that is that it delays, or perhaps even completely obstructs, the onset of the immunity to seasickness that comes to many of us after 24 to 48 hours at sea.

The one time I tried Stugeron, although I did not vomit, I felt slightly unwell for the first three days of the voyage. I then discontinued it and was seasick within a few hours on day four—the first and last time that I have ever been sick after day two of a passage.

In contrast to that experience, on our recent fairly rough five day crossing from Bermuda to Maine, where all I used was my trusty wrist bands, I was mildly sick on day one, but by day two and for the rest of the trip I felt fine and alert despite the rough motion caused by pounding to windward into 15 to 25 knots of wind and a confused cold eddy-induced sea.

It is hard to appreciate an evening like this, our third night out from Bermuda, when dull and drowsy from drugs. Of course I might not notice the subtle shades of colour in the sky when puking my guts out either.

For me at least, taking drugs to prevent the first day’s misery is just not worth the sacrifice of the vitality and alertness I feel for the rest of the trip by being completely free of pharmaceuticals.

Having said that, I’m most definitely not advocating going to sea with no anti-seasickness drugs in the medical kit. Such a course would be seriously negligent given that there are people that simply don’t get better and can even progress to dangerous dehydration if not treated effectively.

One further note: it has been reported that Stugeron can, in rare cases, cause serious and irreversible side effects, particularly in older people. We understand that this is why it is not available without prescription in the USA.
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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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