What Are Sea Legs


There is nothing quite like being out at sea, with the wind brushing softly against your hair and skin. It is all great if it wasn’t for the motion of the ocean and the resulting overwhelming urge to throw up.

If you feel like throwing up, rush to the side of the boat and the fishes will thank you for it. Always make sure that you have good quality boat shoes to help you maintain your grip.

But how do experienced sailors manage to keep everything in? Some believe it’s all about adapting our body and mind to move with the waves and the rocking of the boat. Others believe it is about learning how to maintain a proper upright posture in all that unsteadiness.

This is called getting your sea legs.

What are sea legs?

Sea legs refer to your ability to maintain balance and not get seasick. To better explain this, we learn how to balance our bodies when we are toddlers. Whenever our bodies go off balance our inner ears, and other sensory parts send messages to the brain which then responds with our bodies making the necessary changes to regain balance.

The same theory holds when you are a passenger in a car. Have you ever wondered why people get car sick while the driver doesn’t? It is because the driver’s brain knows the turn he is going to make and has already predicted the movement that he needs to perform to maintain balance.

Let’s move on to the sea. This is where things get a bit tricky. Consider that there are very many motions that the boat is subjected to from heaving to rocking, to swaying and surging. It is much harder for a brain that learned how to balance on solid ground to predict such movements and this is when you get seasick.

If it’s your first time, you can pretty much put aside those marine binoculars until you get your sea legs.

Once you are used to the boat’s movement especially in rougher conditions, your brain will automatically learn how to predict such motions and will allow you to make the necessary adjustments to maintain balance.

There is an old sailor’s tale that tells you to stare into the horizon for a while and has been shown to preventing seasickness. Once you can balance yourself correctly, then you will have gotten your sea legs.

Seasickness can happen when you are on board any type of boat including inflatable boats. However larger vessels are more stable than smaller ones.

How we sway

Different people will get their sea legs in varying durations. Some will get them within 36 hours and some will take longer.

It all comes down to our different abilities to learn. Just like in sports or when learning to play musical instruments.

Seasickness doesn’t have to be a cause for using the VHF marine radio and will go away with the right procedures.

Another great way to fasten the rate of getting your sea legs is standing on the boat with the legs apart. This will provide you with a better balance than if they were together. This is partly thanks to the better weight distribution on the body.

It’s important to learn and understand the parts of a sailboat if this is your first time and you need to find the best spot to stand.

Land sickness

Getting your sea legs is only part of the story. You will also need to get your land legs once you get back onshore.

You may start to feel nausea, and begin walking as though you are drunk and this may go on for a day or more. Sometimes there have been rare cases where land sickness happens for years and becomes a syndrome known as Mal de Debarquement syndrome. But this is extremely rare.

Staring at the horizon helps the brain predict much easier how the sea is moving. Many experts will agree that swaying and motion sickness are related. However, it’s good to note that you can still get motion sickness even without swaying.

Some tips to prevent seasickness


If you are on a boat for the first time and you start feeling nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, short breath, sweating, or dizziness then this is seasickness.

The first thing that you should watch out for is the food you eat as well as the drinks that you take. Alcohol should be avoided at all costs. You are only going to end up dehydrated which will make the symptoms worse.

Also, avoid eating greasy and spicy food or going out to sea with a full belly. Instead, drink lots of water to remain hydrated and make sure that you have the energy needed. You can get this by eating small amounts of food regularly.

Note that even while dropping the boat anchor, you may still be caught in rough seas so it’s important to follow these tips regardless of how you might predict the conditions are going to be.

You particularly want to avoid dairy products.

Also, ensure that you take a good long rest the night before. Getting on a boat when you are tired may increase the chances of getting seasick.

When you are finally on the boat, and you start getting the symptoms of seasickness, you might be tempted to hide inside the cabin. Instead, head out and take in some fresh air. This can help get rid of the symptoms of seasickness and help you get your sea legs faster.

Lastly, there are some medications that you can buy over the counter that can help you deal with seasickness. Just make sure that you do proper research.

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Seasickness symptoms might ruin that ocean trip but by following a few tips and tricks, you can make sure that you get your sea legs faster and that enjoy your time on the boat.

More Sail Reviews:


  1. Some tips to prevent seasickness, intrepidtravel.com
Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!