Well-known in yachting circles as a favorite for gunkhole cruising— a yachter’s paradise of quiet, scenic anchorages—the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands star in American Safari Cruises’ Pacific Northwest Passage itinerary returning in 2012. The cruise features Washington and British Columbia with a new homeport—Seattle, Washington.   

Beginning September 14, 2012, the 22-guest Safari Quest sails 10 weeklong cruises roundtrip from Seattle.  The yacht returns in the spring for six more weeklong cruises beginning March 29, 2013. The Pacific Northwest Passage itinerary explores the inlets and islands of the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands including visits to Victoria, Jervis Inlet, the Harmony Islands, Princess Louisa Inlet, Nanaimo and the Gulf Islands, British Columbia; Friday Harbor, San Juan Island and Stuart Island, WA. 

“The intimate nature of this upscale yacht is ideal for navigating among the islands and scenic inlets in Washington and British Columbia,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Sailing from Seattle will be more convenient for many people, and we’ve also increased the number of sailings in fall and spring.”

Sailing from Seattle, the yacht passes through the historic Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to Puget Sound.  In Victoria, guests enjoy a tour of Butchart Gardens with a traditional British high tea, a visit to the Royal British Columbia Museum and the historic Empress Hotel. 

A flexible itinerary allows time to search out and view wildlife such as orca whales, eagles, seals, sea lions, porpoise, black bears and deer. Expedition—or gunkhole—cruising means the yacht freely explores among the inlets and islands of the Pacific Northwest.  An onboard expedition leader provides expert narration while leading waterborne or land-based adventures including kayaking, hiking, beachcombing and skiff rides. Paddle boards are also available for solo adventures in scenic waters.

Other highlights of the cruise include exploration by foot or by kayak in Princess Louisa Inlet, only half a mile wide and culminating at the spectacular Chatterbox Falls; scenery and solitude while relaxing in the upper deck hot tub; stroll along Nanaimo’s picturesque waterfront promenade; a visit to the town of Friday Harbor with boutiques, galleries and a Whale Museum; hiking along a bluff to Turning Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island and kayaking among the sheltered Harmony Islands.