Shaky Boats and Ships: The Inside Story of Seasickness

I was born, now lives and intends to stay within my lifetime in an island. I could be considered a veteran in sea travel nowadays but I can very much relate to the squeamish feeling that many people, especially first time sea travellers, suffer on board shaky boats or ships beaten by the waves. The reason is obvious as seasickness, which bears a rather pleasant and unassuming French term of MAL DE MER, was my way in the early parts of my life.

When I was still a child until my early adolescent years, I considered myself to be an islander with an unfortunate soul as I equated sea travel with misery. The moment the motor boat left the port, sleepiness started creeping into my eyes even with just the gentle rocking as waves started beating the boat. As the wave beating accelerated and the boat rocking getting hyperactive, nausea also started engulfing my psyche until I vomited to the extreme that I felt my intestine being expelled out while my mouth was savoring the bitterest of all tastes. Subsequently, dizziness, headache, pallor and cold perspiration took turns coming my way to make my travel day as miserable as can be. Hence, my being a product of an indigent family was a blessing in disguise as I could only travel, albeit hesitantly, from my home town of Socorro in Bucas Grande Island to the Surigao del Norte provincial capital of Surigao City in the Philippines during boy scout jamborees.

How I managed to overcome seasickness was an epic story in itself. Faced with no other means to earn income during high school breaks to fund for my note books and other school supplies for the next school year, I was forced to work as crew member of the passenger boat owned by a neighbor plying the daily route from our town to the commercial center of Siargao Island . To my surprise, after a few weeks bout of sea sickness amid daily travel across intermittent calm and stormy seas, I managed to become a seasoned sailor which turned out to be my strongest asset when I studied and graduated in college as a self-supporting student until nowadays.

boats and ships

A passenger boat bound for Siargao Island docking at the Socorro Port

Truly, I had endured the debilitating effect that seasickness have had inflected on my body, but I still consider myself to be fortunate enough for not experiencing the mentally irritating, if not annoying, feeling when everyone else around just goes on their gleeful way, perfectly comfortable and gay, in the same conditions that have reduced seasickness victims to utter misery.

I can still remember the situation when we, members of the Board of Directors of Siargao Electric Cooperative (SIARELCO), travelled to attend a joint meeting with the officers of the electric cooperative in a neighboring island province. A few minutes after we left Surigao City port, the passenger boat was shaking to the tune of the waves that started beating. Notwithstanding the situation, one of my co- Directors kept on cracking jokes that elicited laughter from other passengers. A woman in her late fifties, who was holding a rosary and reciting novenas in between her vomiting sessions, got irritated with the way her fellow passengers seemed to enjoy the trip. She loudly complained to the joke-cracker on his penchant to enjoy while she was calling all the Saints to save the trip. To such complaint, my colleague bluntly replied: IF YOU CONSIDERED THIS TRAVEL SITUATION SERIOUS, IT IS JUST NORMAL FOR US. THE WAVES THAT WE ARE WITNESSING RIGHT NOW ARE JUST EXACTLY THE SAME IN SIZE AND INTENSITY AS THOSE POUNDING AT THE PORT OF MY TOWN. Candidly, I sympathized with the lady-complainant who was forced to close her eyes and occasionally opened it in time that she would thrust her head out of the window to vomit.

Call it unfair or any other terminology but it is a fact that others are afflicted with seasickness easily while other segments of society are immune to that non-life threatening disease fortunately.


  1. That’s why I’d rather travel by air than by sea to avoid seasickness. Well, that is if air flights are available. But then again, not all destinations in the Philippines can be traveled by plane. Haha!

  2. I’d rather go by sea any day over airplane. I dont care how much I puke!

  3. i hear you! and good for you! i always get seasick. Have not had enough trips though to get over my discomfort…

  4. Is Siargao island a good travel destination?

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