Explore the scenic American San Juan Islands on an eight day at-sea excursion aboard Coastal Heritage Alliance’s flagship vessel F/V Commencement.

For 70 years Commencement traveled from her home port of Tacoma, Washington, north through Puget Sound, and across the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the commercial fishing area known as the Salmon Banks. The Banks are a large shoal located off the southern end of San Juan Island’s Cattle Point Lighthouse. For generations, Croatian fishing families set their purse seine nets along these shores to intercept wild salmon during their migration back to the spawning grounds in the rivers of Washington and British Columbia.

Although no longer harvesting, Commencement continues to travel this cultural water route providing natural heritage education to the general public. Return to the Salmon Banks charters provide exceptional access to one of Puget Sound’s unique seafaring traditions in a pristine marine environment.

Commencement was originally a working vessel, not a luxury yacht. This trip provides passengers the unique experience of being at-sea with a crew, as it was when Commencement harvested salmon.

Sleeping arrangements aboard Commencement are “bunkhouse style” in what was once the vessels’ fish hold. Passengers share the handsomely converted aft quarters which has six individual berths, each with its own privacy curtains and reading light. Sleeping bags and pillows are provided.

A roomy passenger bathroom, or head, is adjacent to the sleeping quarters. A small shower is located in the forepeak of the vessel, for which towels are provided. Passengers will have access to a shore-side laundromat once during the trip.

All onboard meals are provided and served family style. Passengers are encouraged to take part in meal prep and galley chores.

There will be opportunities to dine at restaurants on shore. Please note, these meals are not included in the charter rate and are the responsibility of the passengers.

Return to the Salmon Banks charters will include the following activities, although daily schedules may vary depending on weather and the specific interests of passengers.

  • Passage through the waters of Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca
  • Anchorage at Griffin Bay, Garrison Bay, Jones Island, and others
  • Stops at Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, Port Hadlock, and Port Townsend
  • Nature hikes on Mount Finayson and Young Hill on San Juan Island
  • Whale and dolphin watching along the Salmon Banks and Haro Strait
  • Observing migrating salmon
  • Bird watching
  • Dungeness crabbing, when in season
  • Beach combing
  • Visits to historic sites such as American Camp, English Camp, and Cattle Point Light House
  • Fishing, folk, and heritage stories
  • Ample opportunities to explore the shoreline using Commencement’s three traditional rowing craft
  • Lessons in navigation and seamanship skills
  • Time at the helm
An eight day at-sea excursion aboard Coastal Heritage Alliance’s flagship vessel F/V Commencement – including all onboard meals, lodging, and activities – is $1,000 per person.

A 20% discount is available for group bookings of six passengers, a great option for friends and families.

Questions or comments? Please email cha@coastalheritage.org.

2016 Schedule