Seasickness mal de mer and related queasy feelings


Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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Your sickbag is always close at hand in an aircraft... did they have sickness receptacles in the cabins of the RMS Titanic?

From "Shipshape" by Edmund Vale (1931):

Stewards, no matter how long their experience, deprecate the idea of sea-sickness. They have a fixed idea that it should not be spoken about or anticipated in any way, because it makes the passenger nervous and therefore more prone to succumb. Consequently they prefer to be summoned for a receptacle rather than place it in one's cabin - in case. That is a mistake. The receptacle should be there, no matter how ugly the steward may think it looks. The anxiety about ringing a bell will prove much more fatal."

Phil Gowan, I think I am betraying no confidences, suffered the monster on a long voyage to Tristan da Cunha. Anyone else? Any thoughts?
 
Nov 22, 2000
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Senan & Erik,

Reminds me of a story my Grandmother used to tell of a voyage on the Lusitania. She was a reasonable sailor and was on deck in some fairly hearty weather. A first class gentleman, obviously not used to "mal de mer" rather unfortunately emptied the contents of his stomach into his bowler hat! Seeing this, a steward approached and said "Sir, will not be requiring this again I assume?" took hold of his walking cane and with a perfect golf swing removed the offending hat over the ship's rail and into eternity.

Geoff
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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Pretty Good Geoff,

I like that story. I have several stories of making Junior Officers sick on purpose while under heavy weather. I make it my joke on the new guys.

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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My understanding was that seasickness was either downplayed or made fun of. (Though not by the ones who were seasick. The humor was lost on them for some reason.)

The only time I ever got sick on a ship was from some bad braised barf...uh...beef tips. Couldn't blame the seastate for this as the ship was an aircraft carrier and it was tied to the peir at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Apr 11, 2001
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There is no worse hell on earth- miles from land and unable to get off the rollercoaster for days. I felt like Stella Stevens in the Posideon Adventure (no suppository jokes please). It was a "second honeymoon cruise" for our 13th-HA.- Two bunk beds-made for munchkins- I took the lower berth. How I remember counting the seconds between roll- slow to left-hang and shudder- slowly to the right with a corkscrew twist. The towels on the towelbar at crazy angles-the creeeaking of the old tub (Galileo when Chandris had her). Finally nearly berserk with counting the roll- I slithered up on deck wrapped like a mummy and sat in the brisk air in a deck chair-do not watch the horizon, After a box of saltines and 2 liters of flat gingerale the world looked some brighter. I perked up in my deckchair by noon and read a trashy novel. By dinner the sea had calmed-it's not the size of the storm- it's the wave frequency I think. Maybe it had to do with the 13th anniversary or something.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Shelley- I'll spare you the suppository jokes, but have to ask you why it was that you were so afraid to dine at the Captain's table.

I've never been seasick myself, but had the pleasure of being seated with a travel writer making her first ever cruise (from an East Coast Daily) aboard the Zenith who was absolutely FLOORED by mal-de-mer. The voyage was hardly stormy, and she was NOT the panicky kind, but My Word I have never seen anyone sicker......on the return leg from Bermuda (I give her credit for not having flown home) she DID manage to put in a brief appearance in a deck chair, but that was the extent of her voyage and, I believe, no review was written. Had I not seen it first hand I would say that the old "incapacitated by seasickness" stories were just seagoing Urban Legends meant to frighten the novice traveller, but I can say with confidence that it CAN happen and that it is miserable to WITNESS no less fall victim to.
 
May 12, 2005
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I wonder how great was the incidence of seasickness on Titanic? We know of Lady Duff's but that appears to have occured "en lifeboat." Was there any other case of the crud during the trip?
 

Jim Kalafus

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Didn't Walter Lord mention that Marguerite Froelicher had been miserably seasick until a crew member offered her a swig from his flask in the lifeboat, the novelty of which supposedly induced a cure?
 

Ben Holme

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Feb 11, 2001
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Hi James,

That's correct. Marguerite's bedroom steward, when offering her a lifejacket, noticed her apparent unsteadiness and pale face. Interpreting this as fear, he reassured her, "Don't be scared; it's all right." To which she replied "I'm not scared, I'm just seasick."

Later, in lifeboat #5, she was still suffering until a 1st class male passenger offered her a swig from his silver flask of brandy which supposedly induced an instant cure. She also recalled how the sight of the silver flask was a novel experience for her.

The 1st class passenger to whom she refered was probably George Harder.

Warm Regards
Ben
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I recall in Walter Lord's book, he mentioned another fellow who accepted a pro-offered flask, and got one gasping surprise. The hooch he thought he was swilling turned out to be essence of peppermint. (Anyone remember who this bloke was?)

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Jim Kalafus

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One of the firemen pulled from the water by #4, as I recall. And according to one of the vitriolic accounts, didn't Hitchens supposedly "hog all of the brandy" which one of the women had saved? Or was it she claimed that he hogged all of the blankets and demanded the brandy? I tend not to believe it either way.

ABOUT MR. MOLONY'S ORIGINAL POSTING: Any steward who prefers bringing a receptacle after the onset of illness rather than providing one beforehand deserves the ensuing clean-up job. I can't imagine THAT task being a preferable alternative to dumping a slop jar.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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This jogged my memory on Maidie Frolicher- YEARS ago I got a letter and some pix from I guess it was her son- Robert ..something- um.. Swartzenbach? They lived not too far away like Darien Connecticut or something- help me remember somebody! Senior moments- I MUST clean out those basement boxes.
 
Apr 16, 2001
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Hi Shell,

It was Robert Schwarzenbach. Nice guy - though his wife was more interested in the Titanic than he. They lived in Rowayton (near Darien) but Bob passed away awhile ago.

Mike
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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Just got around to reading this thread tonight. No Senan, I didn't get seasick on the voyage to Tristan da Cunha--but I did get sick of the sea. It was an 8 day voyage one way on an old dirty South African fishing boat. In that remote part of the world we had to pass thru the Horse Latitudes and Roaring 40's down into the Westerlies and in those areas you have an anomaly in which a huge body of air flows down over ocean currents flowing in the opposite direction--that creates "abnormal waves" which result in the treacherous waters that surround Tristan da Cunha--so the the fishing boat was tossing 24 hours a day. Before I left my doctor told me to take NyQuil at the first sign of seasickness and try to go to sleep as quickly as possible--letting my body adjust to the tossing while I was sleeping. We were only about an hour out of Cape Town, South Africa when I began to feel queasy--so took a big drink of the NyQuil (and as a non-drinker my body has no tolerance of alcohol in any quantity). I slept soundly and woke up with no trace of seasickness. Some days I didn't feel quite well, but I was never really sick--in fact I did better than some Tristanian men who were on board. But as I said, I really got sick of the sea. By the 5th night out I started having dreams about "land." Never was I so glad step foot on the soil!

Phil
 

Phillip Gowan

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Apr 10, 2001
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P.S. I though Mal-de-mer was the dude in an Edgar Allen Poe story (Twice-Told Tales?) that had to be kept cold and then finally melted into a big messy pile on the floor.

PG
 

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