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View Full Version : Ferry to Santander/Bilbao - How rough?



ChrisInNotts
25-02-2017, 09:55
After our successful first trip abroad in the van to Normandy last year I am emboldened to sample the delights of Northern Spain this summer. I'm still working and limited to two weeks so that means an overnight ferry to Santander or Bilbao makes most sense. However, I am aware that this crossing can be relatively rough. If the wife gets sea sick then I am going to get it in the neck big time so this is a potential deal breaker. At present she is very reluctant to contemplate a night on a ferry. She will ride the odd roller coaster, doesn't suffer from general travel sickness and has been OK up to now on ferries so is not over sensitive to motion. However, she has been violently ill during a couple of (gentle to moderately rolling) sea fishing trips and during one particularly rough whale watching trip in New Zealand. I spoke to a guy at work who has used Bilbao a few times and he said he has never seen anyone get sick and that it is a fairly gentle experience. That encourages me greatly but would appreciate feedback on any bad experiences with this crossing. This is clearly weather dependent but I would like to know worst case scenario :lol-053:

Thanks!

Keith (& Chris)

phillybarbour
25-02-2017, 10:18
It can get very very rough, but not normally in the Summer months. Chances are you will have a smooth no issues crossing. We had one of our HGV tankers roll over in rough weather on that route but again it was winter time and a few years ago.

In the summer 90% of crossing are fine, 5% a little rough, 4% rough, 1% very rough, that's my estimate based on our company using that route for trucks in the past.

grath
25-02-2017, 10:19
Keith, it obviously depends on time of year as Biscay can get rough during the winter, summertime, you would be very unlucky if the sea was more than a chop!
Don't forget these new super cross channel ships (ferries) are getting pretty large nowadays and have state of the art stabilisers!
Try not to worry!

ChrisInNotts
25-02-2017, 10:20
It can get very very rough, but not normally in the Summer months. Chances are you will have a smooth no issues crossing. We had one of our HGV tankers roll over in rough weather on that route but again it was winter time and a few years ago.

In the summer 90% of crossing are fine, 5% a little rough, 4% rough, 1% very rough, that's my estimate based on our company using that route for trucks in the past.

Thanks! Thats just the sort of feedback I was looking for. It must have been rough to roll an HGV tanker over!

Keith

grath
25-02-2017, 10:24
Thanks! Thats just the sort of feedback I was looking for. It must have been rough to roll an HGV tanker over!

Keith

Seen similar things on BF shorter crossings.
What can happen is the trailer looses air from the braking system and then drop down a few inches, next, the tie down chains loosen, and can drop off.
The next thing, the trailers are sliding around, banging into each other on the deck!
I have seen this happen a few times during my trucking cross channel jaunts, trucks written off, more so on freighters without stabilisers! But also on earlier and smaller BF passenger boats

loulou
25-02-2017, 10:35
After our successful first trip abroad in the van to Normandy last year I am emboldened to sample the delights of Northern Spain this summer. I'm still working and limited to two weeks so that means an overnight ferry to Santander or Bilbao makes most sense. However, I am aware that this crossing can be relatively rough. If the wife gets sea sick then I am going to get it in the neck big time so this is a potential deal breaker. At present she is very reluctant to contemplate a night on a ferry. She will ride the odd roller coaster, doesn't suffer from general travel sickness and has been OK up to now on ferries so is not over sensitive to motion. However, she has been violently ill during a couple of (gentle to moderately rolling) sea fishing trips and during one particularly rough whale watching trip in New Zealand. I spoke to a guy at work who has used Bilbao a few times and he said he has never seen anyone get sick and that it is a fairly gentle experience. That encourages me greatly but would appreciate feedback on any bad experiences with this crossing. This is clearly weather dependent but I would like to know worst case scenario :lol-053:

Thanks!

Keith (& Chris)

Hi Keith

We returned from Bilbao at the end of November last year in a force 9, 50-60 mph winds, driving rain and 4-5 meter waves. We did not see anyone being sick. We were reassigned from the front of the ship to a cabin at the rear of the ship, the crew knew that the weather and sea conditions would be challenging and explained that the ride would be more comfortable at the rear. All we can say is that we were on Brittany Ferries flagship, the Pont Aven with superb stabilizers, there was virtually no rolling but one could feel the water resistance of the big waves as the ship went into them. We are boaters so we understood the conditions, but the trip turned out to be much smoother than we had anticipated.
We also heard that on the budget-no frills cheaper fare ships on this route, the stabelizers kept breaking down and that would be most uncomfortable.
We love northern Spain, a visit to San Sebastien is a must, if you are thinking of the Picos de Europa mountains visit Cangas de Onis, and check in the mountain office in the town to see if the pass is open (from snow). That apart the coast line is spectacular, the best tapas (pinxtos) and fish in Spain.

Hope this helps, if you need any more info just ask.
Good luck, Lou :goodluck::boat::fun::wave:

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Byronic
25-02-2017, 10:41
Strangely the worst incidence of passengers being overcome by seasickness that I've personally experienced was on board the Tangier to Gibraltar ferry when it was actually dockside in Tangier harbour and was only just gently rolling. Half the passengers including myself went green and retched over the side, not dissimilar to a typical British city centre on a Saturday night these days!

John H
25-02-2017, 11:00
After our successful first trip abroad in the van to Normandy last year I am emboldened to sample the delights of Northern Spain this summer. I'm still working and limited to two weeks so that means an overnight ferry to Santander or Bilbao makes most sense. However, I am aware that this crossing can be relatively rough. If the wife gets sea sick then I am going to get it in the neck big time so this is a potential deal breaker. At present she is very reluctant to contemplate a night on a ferry. She will ride the odd roller coaster, doesn't suffer from general travel sickness and has been OK up to now on ferries so is not over sensitive to motion. However, she has been violently ill during a couple of (gentle to moderately rolling) sea fishing trips and during one particularly rough whale watching trip in New Zealand. I spoke to a guy at work who has used Bilbao a few times and he said he has never seen anyone get sick and that it is a fairly gentle experience. That encourages me greatly but would appreciate feedback on any bad experiences with this crossing. This is clearly weather dependent but I would like to know worst case scenario :lol-053:

Thanks!

Keith (& Chris)

We are bad sailors and can get sick on a lake but we have had two very good experiences with the Santander crossing. As others have said, the summer weather is likely to be pretty reasonable (normally) but the ferries on those routes are very well suited to ride rough seas with few problems. My advice would be: get some wrist pressure bands (yes, I was sceptical too but they work for us) and if it gets rough then spend the crossing lying down in your cabin. Jenny swears by ginger biscuits too but I think that's just 'cos she likes them :)

st3v3
25-02-2017, 11:55
We did this a few years ago and it was fine. Wife was a little worse for wear, but that was down to the vast amount of wine lol.

oppy
25-02-2017, 12:33
We went over last January just as the big storm from the US made its way over. We got a telephone message from Brit Ferries to say that, because of the weather forecast, our booking was being moved to midnight rather than eight ish the following morning. Nevertheless the sea was a tad lumpy and the restaurant was very sparsely populated, but it was mid winter. We have used this route many times but always in the summer / autumn months and it has generally been like the proverbial millpond with the added bonus of seeing whales and dolphins. But remember, there nowt wimpish about taking a couple of Quells (or other seeasickness medications!!!!!) Go for it, you can always apologies afterwards :cheers::have fun::boat:

wakk44
25-02-2017, 12:36
After our successful first trip abroad in the van to Normandy last year I am emboldened to sample the delights of Northern Spain this summer. I'm still working and limited to two weeks so that means an overnight ferry to Santander or Bilbao makes most sense. However, I am aware that this crossing can be relatively rough. If the wife gets sea sick then I am going to get it in the neck big time so this is a potential deal breaker. At present she is very reluctant to contemplate a night on a ferry. She will ride the odd roller coaster, doesn't suffer from general travel sickness and has been OK up to now on ferries so is not over sensitive to motion. However, she has been violently ill during a couple of (gentle to moderately rolling) sea fishing trips and during one particularly rough whale watching trip in New Zealand. I spoke to a guy at work who has used Bilbao a few times and he said he has never seen anyone get sick and that it is a fairly gentle experience. That encourages me greatly but would appreciate feedback on any bad experiences with this crossing. This is clearly weather dependent but I would like to know worst case scenario :lol-053:

Thanks!

Keith (& Chris)

As one who turned green on a 30 minute pleasure cruise around a flat calm Scarborough bay and was also sick on a whale and dolphin watching trip off the canary islands in a moderate sea,I did share your concerns about an overnight crossing of the notorious Bay of Biscay.I don't think it's possible to compare a relatively small pleasure cruise vessel with a huge ferry though,the Pont Aven and Cap Finistere are fitted with stabilisers and are much better equipped to cope with rough seas.

The weather was fair for our crossing with a moderate swell,we were both absolutely fine as were the rest of the passengers.I wouldn't worry about it too much,just don't watch the youtube videos of ferries in rough weather.:lol-053:

tidewatcher
25-02-2017, 14:29
Most sea sickness starts in the head not the stomach. If susceptible then try to get to the centre of the boat and lie down, use wrist bands, eat ginger biscuits, anything that makes it feel as though you are doing something. As for the crossing it is not always the big storms that cause the problems, sometimes a cross swell, especially in Biscay can be unsettling, having sailed Biscay in a thirty foot yacht I have had some time to look at the conditions.

Just go for it and make your mind up to enjoy it, remember that the only real cure for sea sickness is thirty minutes under an apple tree..........

Edina
25-02-2017, 15:50
Most sea sickness starts in the head not the stomach. If susceptible then try to get to the centre of the boat and lie down, use wrist bands, eat ginger biscuits, anything that makes it feel as though you are doing something. As for the crossing it is not always the big storms that cause the problems, sometimes a cross swell, especially in Biscay can be unsettling, having sailed Biscay in a thirty foot yacht I have had some time to look at the conditions.

Just go for it and make your mind up to enjoy it, remember that the only real cure for sea sickness is thirty minutes under an apple tree..........

Spot on; get a centre cabin where the motion is less and try any of the gimmicks. As tidewatcher says it is in your head, if you convince yourself that a wristband will stop motion sickness, it probably will.

I've sailed across Biscay and actually preferred it to the Golfe Du Lion, the swells can be large in Biscay, but the motion is gentle. It would need a seriously strong blow to bother the modern ferries using that route and in those conditions they won't sail.

You'll get off the ferry in Spain and wonder what you were worried about. Have a good trip.

Val54
25-02-2017, 16:08
This was an interesting piece on motion sickness on Trust me I'm a doctor :

BBC Two - Trust Me, I'm a Doctor, Series 6, Episode 3 - Are there any drug-free remedies for travel sickness? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3rVtTBQgMYWxTLZxk5ZNrmZ/are-there-any-drug-free-remedies-for-travel-sickness)

We did the ferry home from Santander in early October the year before last and it was fine. The bonus was waking up to a nice sunny day and watching a pod of dolphins swim alongside.

Dave

rugbyken
25-02-2017, 17:19
as others have said they are huge ships on that run with good stabilisers far better crossing than the cross channel boats,
when your down that way there are a couple of good spots the elephant park at carbeceno nr santander free parking then you drive around a huge conservation park over 20km of road and a cable car ride great day out then nearby saltillo del mar home of the inquisition

antiquesam
25-02-2017, 20:42
My father was a master mariner and spent his life at sea. He suffered from seasickness for the first few days of every voyage but still managed to captain a ship. His cure was to keep a full stomach, but that obviously didn't work. I've never had a problem and would sail the western channel and Irish sea at least twice a week while working but rather than risk damage in high seas prefer to take to my berth in heavy seas.


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