Anyone know about the San Juan Island water?

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Mar 17th, 2005, 10:33 AM
  #1
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Anyone know about the San Juan Island water?

My husband and I are planning a trip in August but we both seem to get sea sick. Being pregnant, I won't be able to take anything but how are the waters around the San Juan Islands? For example, we'd like to take a tour to see the whales and go voer to Victoria or Vancouver...Are the choppy? What are your thoughts out there???
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Mar 17th, 2005, 11:31 AM
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The waters are generally not rough, but they vary from spot to spot and time to time. There are currents, the wind, the islands, a lot of factors. My family has boated quite a bit in that area and we haven't had trouble in the San Juans with seasickness, though I'm sure it could happen if the conditions were just right (or wrong). Often the water is smoother in the morning, so you might want to choose a morning trip. Why not wait until you get there and ask the tour boat operators?
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Mar 17th, 2005, 05:28 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion...I'll take that into account when planning. I have heard it's beautiful there and travelling by boat is the way to go, so we may just take a chance.
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Mar 26th, 2005, 07:47 PM
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Sea sickness is rare on the waters around the San Juan Islands. Waters are normally calm, unless particularly windy conditions occur, which is not very likely in August. I've known lots of visitors to go out on whale watch trips and I've not known one who complained of seasickness.
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Mar 26th, 2005, 09:38 PM
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The boats are big and carry cars. My husband barfs when he gets close to a boat, but had no problems going from Victoria to Friday Harbor back to the mainland.
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Mar 27th, 2005, 06:26 AM
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A few years ago we took the ferry to the islands and then drove to the small airport where we got a small plane for $80. The pilot toured around the waters and when he spotted the pods of whales he got down real close. It was such an exciting adventure. The waters were so clear you had no problem seeing the whales.
We had taken the catamaran to Victoria. They offered seasick pills but I didn't notice anyone getting sick. From Victoria we took a helicopter to Vancouver. I recall the price as being good as it was a commuter flight and again so exciting and of course time saving.
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Mar 27th, 2005, 07:40 AM
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Preganancy may preclude you from taking pills, but it should still allow for those seasickness bracelets. Check with your OBGYN of course, but I think those bracelets apply pressure to prevent seasickness. Also don't sit on the inside of the ferry. Try to stay outside.
 
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Mar 28th, 2005, 10:23 PM
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I am a motion sickness type of person and posted a similar question and I pretty much received the same responses, however, I was told and also read somewhere in this forum that some people do get sick on the Victoria Clipper out of Seattle because it travels along Juan De Fuca. I have not heard anyone getting sick going through the San Juan Islands, just that particular boat in particular. Apparently, the Clipper travels faster and is lighter since it is only a passenger ferry (no vechicles) so that might be another reason why it is not as smooth. I wouldn't chance it when you have other options to get to Victoria and the San Juans.
PS If you travel to Victoria both Washington State Ferries and BC Ferries accept reservations and are highly recommended in August. Have fun!
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Mar 28th, 2005, 11:09 PM
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I'm no expert, but I've been observing and reading about this topic for some time. While I am not prone to seasickness, I have been sick as a dog on rare occasions. Seasickness is like divers and decompression sickness. While there are some rules, it is still fairly unpredictable.
So, here's my thinking.
First, it's the amplitude of the waves and not little chop that makes the difference.
Second, the boat matters. The bigger the boat, the deeper the hull, the more stable it will be, in general.
Third, the direction the boat is going in matters. If the captain has the liberty to alter course slightly and maneuver into the waves, as opposed to being hit broadside, seasickness can be minimized.
Fourth, the size of the body of water is most important. The bigger the water, the more likely you'll have swells and get seasick.
Now, look at a map and I'll really get to the point. The actual Strait of Juan de Fuca is very long. Any boat cutting directly across it can get tossed about on a bad day. Boats from Anacortes will not be crossing this water. The rest will. The Haro Strait is the main connector between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia. It can get rough, too. This is the water you must pass through from the San Juans to Victoria. The Strait of Georgia, from Vancouver Island to Vancouver, also has its moments of roughness. Again, this is big water.
From Anacortes to the four San Juan Island terminals is pretty peaceful. Whale boats go around looking for the whales, and can get into the Haro Straits. Also, for a small boat, some of the other waters can be a little dicey. The captains should have a pretty good idea of the waters, the conditions that day, and they should be motivated to keep barfers off their boats. I imagine they would be a good resource.
So, in conclusion, I would say, if you're worried about barfing and don't want to take Meclazine, (Do yourself a favor and forget the pressure point wrist bands or the ones that shock the nerves in your fingers) take the ferry from Anacortes. When you get to San Juan Island (or Anacortes) and want to take your whale trip, ask the captain.
We've been out in gale in the San Juans, with the wind behind us and had no problems. We had to cross the Strait of Georgia at a funny angle once as the Canadians sometimes do military things up there, and that was bad news, as the boat was hit broadside with waves.
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Mar 28th, 2005, 11:11 PM
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Shoot. That answer got away from me as I hit the wrong key. I probably would have edited it way, way down. Well, excuse all the verbage. I have to add, after all that, that we have never had a problem with seasickness right around the San Juans, but we do try to avoid them in bad weather and gale warnings, if at all possible. We don't ask for trouble.
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Mar 29th, 2005, 04:15 AM
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Orcas - thanks for the detailed info. We are relocating to the PNW after my son finishes high school and your info was appreciated.
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Mar 29th, 2005, 02:29 PM
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Orcas:
I really enjoyed reading your post!
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Mar 29th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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Orcas - Forgot to ask you a question. You mentioned in your post about Vancouver Island to Vancouver having it's moments crossing the Strait of Georgia. Are you referring to the BC Ferries out of Tsawwassen to Sidney? I am taking that route this summer and although I will be taking a dramamine anyway, I was just curious. Been seasick before, NOT FUN!!!!!!! Thanks again for your imformative post.
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Mar 29th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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I think Vancouver Island to Vancouver could have its moments, as you have to cross the Strait of Georgia, which is the major waterway that makes Vancouver Island an island. It is a lot like the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with major shipping channels, tides, and winds. That said, I have not been on that BC ferry, and the nasty crossing I was referring to was on our 42 ft boat from Nanaimo to places north. Last summer, we crossed from one of the Gulf Islands to the City of Vancouver and the water was smooth as glass. It varies from day to day. I think the ferries are pretty darn stable, in any case.
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Mar 30th, 2005, 07:36 AM
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Thank you for your reply Orcas. Well, it's only a 90 minute ride so that's not too bad and I am going to go on the odd hour sailing. It's suppose to be a bigger ferry but of course no guarantees! Maybe I will get lucky.
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Apr 3rd, 2005, 11:52 AM
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THank you all for the information. It is incredibly helpful and since I haven't been around to check email lately, it was a pleasant read for me. Thanks again and all the information will be put to great use!
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Apr 12th, 2005, 12:57 PM
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I've taken the BC Ferries between Tsawwassen and Victoria before, as well as Tsawwassen and Nanaimo. The vessels are gigantic... usually holding up to 400 cars/trucks/18-wheelers/etc. You really don't feel the motion of the boat. You just feel the vibrations and humming of the engines.
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