Seasickness – How To Better Choose a Charter Vacation for Those Who Suffer

Suffer from Seasickness? You Can Still Charter!

Chartering with people who have sensitive systems? No problem, so long as you choose your charter destination carefully. If someone in your family is prone to seasickness, chartering can be a miserable experience and you may find yourself looking for vacations that don’t involve boating. But there’s no need to cross an ocean, put up with rough weather, watch your loved ones suffer, or give up on your chartering dream. Here are some options where you’ll find calmer waters and easier boating but still plenty to do on a charter vacation.

The San Juan Islands in Washington are protected from the open Pacific by Vancouver Island. Photo by Jack Riley/ Courtesy of San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau 

Protected Coastal Regions

Saltwater boating is not off limits if you can charter in relatively calm seas. Consider for example, the Pacific Northwest and specifically, the San Juan Islands. Choose a powerboat or sailboat and enjoy short distances between interesting islands on crystal clear waters teeming with sea life. This archipelago is nestled on the Salish Sea north of Seattle. It’s protected from the open Pacific by Vancouver Island and although you may find some wind chop, long swells or high seas are rarely a problem.

Another option is the vast Chesapeake with its 11,000 miles of coastline and brackish waters. Yes, the Bay can get boisterous when nor’easters kick up, but if you choose your weather carefully and stick to exploring a specific area such as St. Michaels and Annapolis or Solomons, you are less likely to encounter uncomfortable seas. With clear weather, particularly in the mid and Upper Bay, you can usually see land on one side or the other, so for those who get nervous on open water, this may be a calming influence.

Lake Powell, Utah. Photo by

Inland Lakes

Whether it’s the stark desert beauty of Lake Powell in Utah or fishing Michigan’s Lake St. Claire, there are a number of ways to enjoy boating without ever having to visit the left or right coasts. Houseboats and pontoon boats are especially popular on lakes and provide a boating excursion for the day or overnight that is appropriate for families with small children or more senior crew members. Many smaller independent charter companies also offer fast center console boats for fishing or tow boats for waterskiing and wakeboarding.

Exploring rivers in France on a Le Boat charter. Photo by Eva Hill

River Boating

For the very sensitive or ultra-nervous, opt for a powerboat on a canal or river. Very popular in Europe, river boating has grown significantly in recent years. Cruising rivers and canals is usually slow going—no more than five knots—so anyone who needs to get off the boat for a while can keep up with the charter by biking alongside on a footpath. The rivers experience some current but just about no chop and certainly never a sea swell.

Cruising the River Shannon in Ireland or the Canal de Bourgogne in France combines history, amazing scenery, and a convenient moving hotel, not to mention access to wineries, restaurants and quaint towns along the route. Very little experience is required to handle canal boats. If you break down, you’re never far from help which will also calm unsettled nerves. Le Boat is one of the largest riverboat companies available with bases in Ireland, England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, and Poland.

Sail downwind and calmly from Trogir to Dubrovnik, return the boat there, adn avoid the windward bash home. Photo by dronepicr

One Way or Interrupted Charters

If you’re determined to sail in foreign lands, entice your queasy crew with lots of shoreside activities. Europe is perfect for this since there’s so much culture and history to enjoy ashore. The Saronic Islands in the Aegean Sea are perfect. You sail one day out and then island hop before spending an afternoon sailing back to Piraeus near Athens. Exploring antiquities will help break up the time on the water. At night, you’ll usually tie up at a quay (so learn to Med moor). Your crew can come and go without a ride in the dinghy, and the quay is usually calm without much surge.

Also, when sailing the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia, you can opt to take a one-way charter. Most people are less likely to feel sick when sailing downwind so why not sail from Trogir to Dubrovnik, return the boat there, and avoid the windward bash? One-way charters usually incur an extra fee, but that’s a small price to pay to be able to enjoy time aboard with family.

Go Where the Cats Are

Seasickness is usually lessened on a catamaran because cats move differently than monohulls, so choose your destination according to the type of boat available. Hot weather destinations such as the Caribbean and South Pacific offer mostly catamarans, and even at Mediterranean destinations, cats are gaining traction. Cats are usually more expensive. They may be worth it if your spouse or kids can come along and be well.

Don’t dismiss boating due to upset stomachs. Broaden your definition of chartering, learn your options, and you’ll soon be on a boating vacation that is bound to make everyone feel good. 

By Zuzana Prochazka