(8) Sea sickness [[44-47]]
[] It being impossible to say how soon after leaving port there may be rough weather (indeed, sometimes ships get under weigh while the wind is blowing very fresh), it is usual to lash the dinner-tables to the deck, placing [] their feet in mortices cut into small blocks called cleats, which, being strongly nailed down, generally keep the whole sufficiently firm. It is not easy to render the chairs equally secure; but they are tolerably steadied by nailing two rows of battens on each side of the table, so as to embrace the legs of the chairs; which, in this mode of securing them, ought all to be of equal compass from front to rear.
It requires, after all, some management to preserve an equilibrium when a ship rolls much; as in a calm, or a gale of wind. In the former instance, the transitions of reclination from starboard to larboard, and vice versa, are often very great, owing to the heavy swell which alternately raises the ship, and again sinks her into the trough made by two successive waves. However curious it may seem to persons unacquainted with sea affairs, it is nevertheless certain, that more masts are lost by rolling in a calm, than by stress of weather.
As to that most distressing malady, sea-sickness, it is not possible to lay down any specific mode of precaution or of remedy. It usually commences with the agitation occasioned in the vessel's motion by the wind's force, or the water's undulation. Few experience more than a few qualms, while the water is smooth: as in going through the Needles with a leading wind, in fine weather; but when upon a wind, with a chopping sea, and sudden or forcible gusts, all who are not accustomed to the motion become most oppressively sick.
However they may be affected by this customary derangement, those suffering under its influence are more frequently objects of derisive merriment than compassion. The prevalent opinion is that in a few days the complaint will disappear. Hence it is regarded as a matter of course, and a seasoning which, by its mode of operation, rather conduces to health, than to a dangerous issue. That such is the [] usual result cannot be denied; but there are some constitutions which cannot stand so forcible an attack. Women, in general, are most severely oppressed by it, and some few become its victims.
It would be endless to enumerate all the recipes which those who fancy themselves qualified to prescribe, tender on this occasion to the unhappy sufferers. Acids and laudanum, in repeated small doses, are most successfully administered; though they must often fail. That unfeeling advice given to the unwary, "to drink a glass of spirits," invariably tends to aggravate all the symptoms, and with those not habituated to such strong remedies, produces all the inconveniences attendant upon super-added irritation.
The fresh air upon deck will be found considerably to diminish the force of the complaint; but the eyes should be kept shut, and the attention withdrawn from the sea, and from the rigging. Of both these, the motion is peculiarly calculated to increase that swimming in the head inseparably attendant on seasickness. If, notwithstanding these precautions, the nausea and derangement continue, it will be proper to retire to bed; observing the precaution of lying on one side, and keeping the eyes closed.
There may, perhaps, be no harm in taking a small case of spirits on board; but such is by no means indispensable. They do not come properly within the scope of a gentleman's own expenditure; and unless preserved with uncommon vigilance, will probably be drawn off by some adventuring fellow provided with a pick-lock, while the owner is either asleep or absent. Everything should be rigidly kept under lock and key.
Ships of every description are infested with petty pilferers, and sometimes
with more expert and daring thieves; who purloin whatever can be []
turned to use, without leading to discovery. The effects of careless passengers,
especially, are considered to be fair booty. Blankets, sheets, &c.,
will all disappear towards the close of a voyage, or when in a port where
they can be sold or bartered away, if their owners confide too much in
the honesty of their neighbours, and have apathy enough to permit such
depredations to be committed with impunity.