I have spent a lot of time in the Keweenaw but have never been to Isle Royale. I'd like to get there just once in my life as it is on my bucket list. I'm not a hardcore backpacker and camper so I'd probably just be one of the tourists staying at Rock Harbor Lodge. However, my concern is about the ferry ride over. I've read about some bad trips on the ferry from Copper Harbor. It seems the Ranger III is a little more stable and passengers are less prone to seasickness. Given that my wife may not be as inspired to travel here as I am, I would like to make her experience as enjoyable as possible. I'd like to avoid being seasick on the 6 hour ferry ride over. How smooth is the ride generally on the Ranger III? I was thinking of going in late July or early August of 2017. Is there a time that is more likely to have calmer waters than another? I'm trying to avoid the late summer or early fall as I've heard this can be a bit rougher. I'm mostly doing research to see if this concern is something to worry about or whether by taking these precautions I can put the odds in my favor. If the odds are still significant of a rough ride then I may have to reconsider my plans.
Thanks for your help.
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Welcome to the forums. You didn't mention if your wife has a history or you are simply being as cautious as possible. Have you considered flying over and back? I'm not sure how someone very prone to sea sickness does when flying but the flight from Houghton County airport to Tobin Harbor/Rock Harbor is quite short. They publish "less than an hour" but the actual flying time is probably closer to 30 minutes. The common thinking that the Ranger III will result in the smoothest ride I think is most typically true due to its size, but the transit time is also longer so whatever the conditions are there will be a longer time to take affect and on any given day the seas from Minnesota just might be calmer (but take longer to actually get to Rock Harbor). While the scheduled transit time is about 6 hours, over 1 hour is in the sheltered waters of the Portage ship canal and the Rock Harbor channel (Ranger III stops briefly at Mott Island) so your "exposure" time is really less than 5 hours, maybe closer to 4. I think some of the bad rep. the Isle Royale Queen has is due to her older and smaller predecessors. Its transit time is less than 4 hours. You're correct that later in the season increases the odds of rougher seas and July/August is not considered late but the weather is well, weather. Having said all that, the ride is usually quite nice, unless of course one is very prone to motion sickness. Then, even the common 1 to 2 foot swells can seem like a car ride over gentle hills.
I've never had motion sickness as an adult but my wife did. She would become ill on a cruise ship anchored at the pier, really . She had very good results with the prescription patch, scopolamine. She actually made one trip on the Ranger III with me to Rock Harbor for a single night on The Island and had no problems. There is also a prescription pill that counteracts nausea. One simple and usually effective precaution is to sit and stand where one can keep their eyes on the horizon to avoid confusing the brain which can be the root of much motion sickness.
Bottom line, IMHO the risk will be well worth it.
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