Antiseasickness Product Hurl-off, Our Drug Of Choice

Despite the solid win for Stugeron in our informal survey, I have had better luck with Gravol, which is available over the counter in most countries including Bermuda, Canada and the UK, but not the USA. I suspect that this exception is more to do with drug company marketing issues rather than regulatory ones since the active ingredient in Gravol is Dimenhydrinate, the same as that in Dramamine, which is available in the USA without prescription.

Our reasons for preferring Gravol are as follows:

  1. It does not seem to delay the onset of natural immunity to seasickness the way that Stugeron does. In fact my experience has been quite the opposite in that, although I have not taken it for years, in the past I have found that a single Gravol taken just before going off watch promotes a deep sleep from which I have awakened completely cured for the rest of the voyage, even if I was suffering mightily before hitting the sack. Of course this presupposes that you can keep the pill down long enough for it to kick in—but read on.
  2. Gravol comes in time release capsules, as far as I know the only anti-seasickness drug that does, which seems to make it work more effectively than Dramamine.
  3. Gravol is also available in suppository form. I have only had one experience with these, second hand I’m pleased to say, when a crew on Morgan’s Cloud, after being violently sick for three days to the point that he was becoming dangerously dehydrated (despite taking Stugeron), was completely cured by a single Gravol suppository.

Of course Gravol is, like all drugs, not without side effects, the most common being extreme drowsiness and dry mouth. The former can be bad enough, particularly with suppository use, to render a crew member non-functional. The good news is that, as we understand it, Dimenhydrinate is one of the safest of all the drugs for seasickness available.

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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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