Aug 23, 2009

Mal de Mer

It's your own personal hell being seasick. The rocking. The swaying. The heat. And it rarely gets any better once it begins. You can try to take some motion sickness pills, but once it starts it won't let up until you hug a pine tree. You feel like you want to die. Your face turns all kinds of crazy colors, from pink to yellow to a ghostly white to a faint green, and for the entire rest of the day people ask you "how ya feelin' man?", like it's supposed to help in any real way. It's hard to describe to anyone who has never felt it, but it can literally be the worst experience of your life.

I've been involved with alot of hook-and-line trips offshore for tagging fish, collecting fisheries independent samples, and for other various experiments. I've learned that whenever we conduct offshore hook-and-line sampling for research, we have to recruit more than enough people to go. Because it's hard to find people to go fishing during the week (you'd be surprised), we usually find a rag-tag mish-mash of folks to go. So sometimes it can be a little unpredictable. No matter what the seas are, slick calm or a roller coaster...people will find ways to get sick. It's one of the many wrenches that get thrown into the works. If we need 4 fisherman, we'll find 6.

I'm lucky that I've been blessed with a iron clad gut. For as many times as I've been offshore, I've only felt seasick once, and the deck looked sort of like this:

the sea was angry that day, my friends

Plus, I always take a motion sickness pill before I step on the boat. They make you a little drowsy, but for me that just makes for a better nap on the way out.

But, the most entertaining aspect of seasickness is how people deal with it. People perform their own little rituals to deter the queasiness. I've known some people to take enough meclizine that they could ride the Disney World teacups for weeks. Some people adopt unusual eating habits. Some will wear bandannas around their face to avoid diesel exhaust, some stay out on the deck so they can see the horizon, while others find the deepest darkest corner of the ship and stay there all day only to emerge when we're finally docked again. I've even watched guys that are so hardcore for fishing, that they will throw up while reeling in a fish and never skip a beat. I also believe I've witnessed the at-sea record for the most ginger eaten in one sitting.

My absolute favorite happened a few days ago. There was a guy who felt sick a few hours into the trip, thought he had recuperated, and decided to make it out on the deck to help us with our research. We were fishing at the time, so I handed a rod to him and told him to bait up and try to catch something. He took one look at the sloppy bait bucket filled with fish heads, squid pieces, and bait gravy. He shook his head and fell off the horse again.

Know what you're getting yourself into, take some precautions, or feel Poseidon's wrath.


  1. Somehow, catching a fish does not seem to be a worth enough reward for enduring all of that. I guess that's why you're the fish-man, and I'm not.

  2. I meant to say worth-Y enough reward. Oops.

  3. I'm convinced if everyone ate a handful of meclazine and a jumbo bag of crawtaters as soon as they stepped on the boat, seasickness would be erraticated.

    -Small and bossy

  4. Your training at the G-Lake, as a lad, has paid off! Ha ha ha!
    Boat speeds over OMG mph during spring storms and boucing on the floor of the bassboat had to help tough up the tummy ! ;-)
    E..A..S..Y....Big Fellow !!!

  5. I may get a bit green every now and then. But as soon as the bait hits bottom and a fish starts tugging, I forget to be sick.


  6. I'm telling you the bandana works!!!