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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ralphie and the Buick

This is not a story about a man and his car. Oh no, its a lot more nauseating than that. If you know what I am talking about read on as you might gain some insight into a very revolting condition some refer to as "Barking for Ralph." If you do not know what I am talking about and you are considering joining us or any fishing service for a Lake Ontario fishing charter, you definitely should read on. What you learn here could be the difference between an enjoyable day on the water or a miserable fishing charter trip that when all is said and done, you still have to pay for.

Several years ago, on a cloudy August day my charter consisted of a young couple who were on their honeymoon. The morning was pleasant enough with rather gentle rolling waves of about 2 feet. Well maybe 2 to 3 feet. Vinnie and his bride were excited as we navigated the Dixie Dandy to the planned starting spot. We had trolled for close to an hour when I noticed that Mrs. Vinnie was very quiet and her rather nice complexion had faded to a ghostly pale gray. My finely tuned captain's senses told me that Mrs. Vinnie was well on her way to the dreaded state of sea sickness. As we say in the trade, she was about to bark for Ralph. As she stared into space husband Vinnie told her to look at the horizon and she would be OK, and he went back to catching fish, after all with Mrs. Vinnie a bit under the weather, she did not want a turn on the rod, leaving Vinnie in total control. Shortly after he imparted his words of wisdom she lurched her pretty head over the side and up and out came her breakfast followed by other stomach emptying attempts. Vinnie was busy catching fish and his bride was busy in the upchucking mode and became more and more miserable.

I asked Vinnie if he wished to return to port but he declined and patted his bride on her shoulder and for about the fifth time once again told her to stare at the horizon. Only this time she gazed at her brand new husband with a cold steely intense stare. I recognized the look and advised Vinnie that if we did not conclude our fishing charter and return immediately to port he would surely be entering the world of alimony payments and since he had only been married for a few hours he might want to take my advice. Luckily he did, and as far as I know they are still happily married and she keeps her feet on the ground.

Motion or sea sickness has ruined the charter experience for numerous individuals and it really does not have to be that way. It is often described as feeling so sick you think you are going to die, and then you wish you would. If you take necessary precautions, in almost every case you can prevent or drastically minimize motion sickness distress. Actually the majority of anglers do not get sea sick, but for those that do it can be an unpleasant experience ranging from slight discomfort to full blown upchucking agony.

Basically many experts believe that motion sickness is caused by a lack of coordination between the inner ear balance mechanism and other senses such as sight and feel. It seems that in actuality no one can be 100% sure of the cause, but the majority of authorities adhere to the inner ear balance and conflict theory. I am sure however that sea sickness happens, and on Dixie Dandy fishing charters many different remedies have been tried, the most outlandish of which happened several years ago.

While trolling on a lumpy day, one of my customers became sick and rapidly assumed the head over the side Buick position. After several cries for Ralph he had enough and decided to take drastic action. He reached into his cooler and pulled out a plastic cup filled with cold chili left over from his dinner the previous night. Everyone on board cringed and agreed that eating this day old concoction would be a very bad move and the chili would soon erupt back to daylight. My sick angler would not listen and promptly ate the cup of cold greasy chili. To the surprise of all on board he soon started to feel much better and the chili stayed put. He completed the trip with nary a call for Ralph or the Buick, and if my memory serves me right he even consumed a couple of adult beverages. I was totally dumbfounded by this feat and to this day, while I do not condone this action, I did see it work, at least once. While I will not recommend the cold chili solution there are plenty of things you can do to prevent sea sickness. The fact is, with a little pre boarding preparation you do not have to suffer from upchuck disease.

First of all be advised that even some of our hero NASA Astronauts experience motion sickness and anyone at anytime may flirt with the feeling. Once the inner ear, eyes and central nervous system send out those conflicting reports you may get sick. For example you are in a plane that is bouncing around but your eyes see the inside of the plane and do not see the bouncing, that is a sensory conflict that may cause you to become sick. Now that you have an idea what causes sea sickness, what can you do about it? Knowing what causes it aint going to help one bit. Preventive measures will however transform a day of potential misery into a delightful, pleasant experience trolling on Lake Ontario waters for trout and salmon. What can you do, what can you do?

On a boat sit nearer to the stern, this is the lowest point and will have diminished motion. Do look out to the horizon where the eyes will see less motion. ( Vinnie was right about that). Sometimes closing your eyes will help. Do not read, and keep your distance from another person who is experiencing sea sickness. (you might experience a sympathy upchuck) This is not always possible on a boat unless it is a cruise ship. Avoid strong odors, spicy foods, and stay out of confined areas such as the lower cabin. Diesel fumes can be very annoying and forget about the cold chili remedy. Finally and most important is this. If you are concerned about getting sick, take an over the counter medication such a dramamine, or bonine, and make sure you follow the dosage instructions as this is extremely important. Allow ample time before boarding to allow the pill to be internally absorbed.

You can also ask your doctor for a prescription medication known as the scopolamine patch. This item seems to work flawlessly except for one time on my boat a few years ago. Three couples booked a trip and all hopped on board wearing the patch. As time passed they all were enjoying the trip except for one. She got quiet, turned pale, assumed the position and got sick. I could not understand what was wrong, as the patch always worked. As the poor gal hung over the gunnel, one of her friends noticed a patch lying on the deck. It was from the sick gal. It seems that her brilliant husband had not removed the plastic protective cover over the medicated/adhesive side of the patch. Placed behind the ear it stayed put for a while however the medication was blocked from entering her bloodstream and it finally fell off. Needless to say one husband on the boat was in deep do do. Come to think of it I have not seen or heard from him since that day.

A good natural remedy is ginger. Studies indicate that two 500 milligram ginger tablets can be as effective as over the counter remedies. In a pinch, ginger snap cookies have been known to help and they are quite tasty. There is also a product called ginger gum that can offer digestive comfort. A little peppermint along with the ginger can also be effective.

Another option that is completely drug free is the accu-pressure point wrist band product. Two pressure point bands are placed one on each wrist in the Nei-Kuan pressure point located just above the hand and between the two tendons that vee up the lower arm. (follow product instructions) I have had many clients use the bands and my experience tells me that medication is more effective than the pressure band method. If you choose the bands you might still want to take a drammy, or some ginger. I call that the double up approach.

When you book a Lake Ontario fishing charter you have no idea what the weather will be like. It is not necessarily real rough water that can make you uncomfortable it might be a more gentle rolling action that results in you know what. So why not insure that your day on the water will result in a quality experience? That is why preventative action will help. With a little planning and effort you can insure a pleasant day on the water. It is easy to say good riddance to Ralphie and the Buick. And hello to fun, food, and fish.

Posted By: Capn Gerry Bresadola @ 6:29:09 PM


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