July 6, 2002

Unfortunately, Seasickness Can Get to the Best of Us

Frank G. Dwyer
July 6, 2002

I’ve been seasick three times that are worth mentioning. Once off Maui on a catamaran, once off Cabo San Lucas on a 41 footer fishing for Marlin, and last month off Cape Cod. I consider myself fairly seaworthy, and have been on and around the water my entire life, but sometimes that nasty feeling can creep up on you while out on a trip when you least expect it, even if you’re a seasoned veteran.

The Maui experience was a pure chain reaction. My wife Tami and I were lucky enough to be spending some time in Maui in 1995 and were heading to Molokini, the tiny island preserve off the coast of Maui for a snorkeling adventure. No problems on the cruise out, or while enjoying the plethora of sea life that Molokini can offer those who like to snorkel or scuba dive.

On the ride back in, the wind had kicked up and created a nice chop in the ocean as we headed back to the mainland. The boat was quite crowded and several people were gathered at the back of the boat, looking quite miserable. Unfortunately, I saw one poor soul leaning over the rail retching, and that kicked up those nasty feelings in me that anyone who has dealt with an oncoming wave of seasickness can relate to.

In January of 1999, I went on a trip to Cabo San Lucas with my friend Mike. The trip was an award from my employer at the time and because my wife was pregnant and leery of a trip to Mexico, Mike got the invite. The second day there, we went out on a 30-foot boat and had a great trip, catching Marlin (2) and several Yellow Tail Tuna’s. The weather that day was sunny and windy, with five-foot seas.

Two days later, we chartered another boat for second chance at the Striped Marlin we had already been lucky enough to meet. This time we rented a 41-foot boat with more of a cabin so we could enjoy the 30- mile cruise out to the fishing grounds. The weather was a carbon copy of the day we had for our first trip, and with a bigger boat, you would think that seasickness would not enter the picture. Wrong! The “pins and needles” feeling that always precedes my bouts with this evil condition began about 30 minutes into the trip. The nausea lasted pretty much the entire day, and for the most part, I was on the couch in the cabin only to get up when a fish was on the line and it was my turn in the chair. Even though I did not feel great, it was a great day of fishing, with each of us fighting and landing two Marlin and more Tuna.

Several weeks ago, I decided to take my friend Andy up on his offer and head down to Cape Cod for a trip out of North Falmouth. I actually enjoyed this trip quite a bit, especially getting up long before the crack of dawn to gather a few herring from a local run for our trip in search of jumbo stripers. Once we had gathered our bait, we headed for the docks.

We had a great 18-mile run to the fishing grounds, which were framed by the Elizabeth Islands and the Gay Head cliffs of Martha’s Vineyard in the distance. We were drifting an area where several currents converge from different directions, creating a pitching and rolling on the boat which is quite violent. The constant rocking of the boat, combined with the drift, created an environment that my equilibrium did not appreciate. Once again, chain reaction had a hand in this episode as another party on the boat was sick prior to my problems and helped to accelerate my nausea. We fished for a solid two hours under these conditions, and I caught several fish, although none large enough to keep. We did leave the grounds with two 20 pound Striped Bass caught by Andy and the Captain. Once we started motoring back in, I began to feel better, although I did not feel completely cured until I stepped on dry land.

Seasickness is caused when the minute organs of the inner ear that enable a human to balance are disturbed by the motion of the boat swaying and pitching. The movement sets off and alarm in the brain which can cause nausea, headache, dizziness, and sometimes vomiting. So, what can you do to prevent it? There are several ways to prevent seasickness, but not much you can do once you are seasick, so you need to prepare ahead.

Pills can be obtained over-the-counter which help most people by sedating the organs that control balance. The pills can sometimes cause drowsiness and should be taken with care. There are also special wristbands that have proven effective for some people. Lastly, there are also stick-on patches that can be worn on the skin behind the ear, which apparently work well too.

You can often avoid seasickness by staying busy and keeping your mind occupied by taking over the helm, fishing, or partaking in any other activity that will keep you above decks. Looking at the distant horizon rather than the water close at hand will also help. Take deep breaths and drink plenty of water. The worst thing that you can do is to go below decks with no land or horizon to look at. If you are seasick and can't bear it anymore, lie down on your back with your eyes closed, this will greatly reduce the affects.


Bigger fish are still taking up residence in the waters around the Port, however the recent heat wave has made for more difficult fishing.

Anglers using bait are seeing more consistent hook ups lately, compared to those strictly fly-fishing or using artificial lures. Herring and Mackerel are working well for those using cut bait, while anglers using clams and sea worms have also reported success.

Joppa Flats continues to hold fish, including some big ones. I have heard from reliable sources that a 33-pound Striped Bass was taken from Joppa Flats earlier this week. So, while there are stories of nice fish being taken on Joppa, there are more stories from frustrated anglers who can see these large fish lazing on the flats, but can’t catch them. I have experienced these finicky fish first hand, and at times it does seem that they won’t take any offering, but we must persevere!

Anglers anchoring just outside the channel in the Merrimack river, on both the Salisbury and Newburyport side, are pulling in lot’s of medium to large sized striped bass, using mostly cut bait. I saw many boats this past weekend with all anglers on board fighting fish at the same time.

The Point continues to produce for anglers at low tide, using bait and lures. If your using bait, you’ll want to use enough weight to keep your bait on the bottom, but more importantly to keep your line from tangling with the other anglers who are sure to be shoulder to shoulder. Bucktail Jigs and soft plastics on lead heads are working best for those anglers using lures.

Reports have flounder just outside the mouth of the river and along the beachfront of Plum Island.


Kay at Surfland Bait and Tackle on Plum Island reports that while there are still lots of fish around, anglers have to work harder for their keep. Bait is definitely working better than lures according to Kay, and she reports that the fishing is a bit spotty now that we are more into the summer weather. The 33-pound bass mentioned earlier was caught at night on a live eel according to Kay.

Chris at Captain’s Fishing Parties on Plum Island reports continued good fishing on the full day and half day trips. On the all day trips, anglers have been enjoying jigging for Cod up to 30 pounds. Half-day anglers have been enjoying a mix of mackerel, bluefish and ground fish.

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