You’ve been religiously counting down the days until you could yell “I’M OFFICIALLY ON HOLIDAY” on the last Friday in the office before your live aboard dive trip. You spent a whole night organising your dive gear, camera equipment and chose wisely which novel to bring along (you only get so many kilos per person, and diving gear comes before literature! Although if you do need a few extra hints, check out our article on smart packing).
Finally, the time you’ve been so looking forward to has arrived and you’re off on your dive holiday!
You wake up on the first morning of the dive trip, way out in a remote and exotic dive location. The smell of salt water floats on the ocean breeze, along with the scent of freshly brewed coffee and tropical fruit from the pineapples being cut up for the morning fruit platter. The sun rays begin to shine through the porthole and you excitedly jump out bed ready for the first dive of the day. And when you actually get out of bed you’re overwhelmed by the thud, thud, thud in your head of an all-consuming headache.
What do you do when you’ve looked so forward to a dive live aboard trip and then you’re overcome by dehydration, nausea, headaches or sea-sickness? There are a few simple tricks to overcoming feeling sick that will have you back into making the most of your diving!
If you didn’t grow up with a mum like mine who was constantly reminding you to ‘drink more water!’ then you may not be getting all the H20 you need, especially if you’re diving all day. Diving really dehydrates you, and becoming dehydrated can leave you feeling energy-less and make you more susceptible to decompression illness, so it’s of incredible importance to keep your fluids up throughout the day.
First thing in the morning I drink a 600 ml bottle of water, sipping it whilst I get ready for my day. I make sure water is the first thing I drink, and not coffee or any other sugary, caffeinated drink. Ensure you are drinking water before every dive, and during the surface interval. I like to keep a bottle of water in the dive tender so I know there is always going to be water nearby.
Water is the best substitute for water, but if you want to drink some electrolytes feel free, especially if you’ve been sweating in the hot tropical sun. Soft drinks and alcohol are not a suitable replacement for water! At the end of your diving day you’ll be so exhausted that getting on the sauce is the last thing on your mind, but make sure you stick with only one or two sundowner drinks so you’re fresh for your next day of live aboard diving.
If you are someone who really suffers with seasickness, then maybe live aboard diving isn’t the best holiday option for you. However most divers get it at some point, no matter how tough their stomachs are!
When people feel nauseous, they want to stay far away from fluids for fear of them returning. However keeping hydrated is one easy and effective way of preventing seasickness.
The best cure for seasickness is being well prepared, so make sure you stock up on seasickness tablets if you think you’re at risk. Seasickness medication does not work once you’ve started to feel sick, so make sure you follow the directions on the packet and take them in a good amount of time prior to approaching any turbulent waters. If you’re diving make sure to choose a non-drowsy medication.
If you pass the point of prevention, and feel those tell-tale symptoms of seasickness such as nausea, lethargy, dizziness and excessive sweating then get some fresh air! Avoid your cabin or any other stuffy enclosed spaces, particularly the bathroom or toilets. Going outside and enjoying your surroundings while keeping your eye on the horizon will start to settle your stomach. Take some deep breaths in and out and focus on your breathing rather than how you’re feeling.
Don’t set your gear up on the way to a dive site if the ocean is anything less than calm, and try not to chow down on any greasy or highly acidic foods. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat anything though, when it comes to feeling seasick an empty stomach is just as bad one filled with bacon and eggs!
If you’re still feeling sea sick once you arrive at the next site sip some water, give yourself a few moments to take some big breaths in and out and try and if you’re feeling up to it get ready for your next dive. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel if you jump in for the dive, and even if the surface of the ocean is choppy you’ll find it far more relaxing and soothing below the ocean than above it.
Spending too much time in the hot sun, drinking too much alcohol the night prior to diving, not enough fluid and feeling seasick can all result in overwhelmingly painful headaches. I regularly suffer from bad headaches, which is why I ensure I am constantly drinking water during diving.
If you love catching rays on the top deck in between dives, make sure you wear a hat, a pair of sunnies and some sunscreen to avoid getting heat stroke or sunburn which can result in thumping headaches and dehydration. Suffering from terrible sunburn is a sure-fire way to ruin your live aboard dive trip pretty quickly, so make sure you slip slop slap throughout your trip!
If you do find yourself with a headache that just won’t go away, you might have to skip the next dive out and have a big glass of water and a bit of a snooze. Taking some painkillers is also a quick-fix to headaches, but make sure they are non-drowsy before you take any medication and go diving.
If you are feeling really terrible, don’t dive. The crew onboard your live aboard dive vessel are there to help you and the boat will be equipped with a well-stocked first aid kit, so let them know how you’re feeling and they can help you out. Having a nap out side of the bright sun and sipping on some fluids can do you the world of good, and can have you feeling on top of the world in no-time and back in the water to continue diving.
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