Located in Anacortes, the "Gateway to the San Juan Islands", Anacortes Yacht Charters has established itself as the leading charter company with the largest selection of power and sail boats available for charter in the San Juans and Gulf Islands.
Since 1962, owner and U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captain Terry Buzzard has gotten to know the San Juan Islands and surrounding miles of water pretty well. Having hauled mail for the Post Office, salvaged wrecks, assisted in oil spill cleanups, and ferried passengers throughout the San Juan Islands, he has built quite a resumé of seafaring. This relationship with water isn't so surprising considering he began boating at the age of 3 when he was allowed to pilot a single-horsepower boat by himself with his trained rescue dog, Rusty.
Regardless of the actual job he's performing, Terry is always drawn to whales. By 1978, this fascination lead him to chartering trips specifically for whale watching, especially toward the schools of orca that made the region their home. Looking back, he's pretty certain his boat was the only one in the area at the time dedicated to the thrill of witnessing some of the world's largest and most beautiful animals. Today, the waters are spotted with various boats filled with passengers snapping pictures of the great aquatic beasts and shouting ululations whenever one smacks its enormous tail against the water, takes a playful leap, or belts a Mariah Carey song.
Terry's boat, the 110-foot Island Caper, provides generous sightlines to all passengers via its spacious outdoor deck and ample indoor viewing areas, and is decked out with a 34-speaker sound system. In business for 52 years, Island Mariner Whale Watching's unparalleled time and experience on the water offers cruise-goers an ideal experience, and also employs a seaplane to help spot whales and guide tours. With his chief navigator––a 7-year-old airedale terrier also named Rusty––Terry is right out there amid the excitement, ferrying whale watchers and sharing his life-long passion.
Landlubbers soak up sun and scenery along Lake Cowichan's sweeping 150-kilometre shoreline from Island Houseboat's decked-out watercrafts. Guests outfitted with a Pleasure Craft Operator Card are eligible to rent a Moon Cruiser, which accommodates up to 10 adults, their pets, and unlimited pirate-slang dictionaries on its spacious deck. The Operator Card is only required of captains who are Canadian citizens, so border skippers may freely join their northern counterparts in choosing among Island Houseboats' seasonal packages, such as a three-day weekend during the low season ($750), Labour Day weekend during midseason ($1,099), or a week-long watery extravaganza during high season ($2,499).
The month of May kicks off the peak of orca-sighting season, a time when land lovers float out to experience the enchantment of killer whales and avoid the temptation to shamelessly reference freeing Willy. As the captain's log reads, 90% of Western Princes's tours encounter orcas, and 100% of orcas are absolutely adorable when imagined with a bowler hat on their head. Additional sightings of porpoises, harbor seals, sea lions, and bald eagles are common along with occasional celebrated guest appearances by minke whales, lush gray whales, and paparazzi-swarmed humpback whales.
The Everett Rowing Association has been catering to novice and veteran rowers alike for more than three decades. Founded by Martin Beyer and Lynn Dykgraaf in 1982, the association helps aquatic enthusiasts of all levels hone their rowing skills. Newbies can enroll in a variety of introductory classes—some for adults, others for youth—that teach paddling basics as well as the little-known second verse to “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Advanced rowers, meanwhile, can try out for the competitive Masters Team or the junior team for student-athletes.
All Season Charters' quartet of captains share the wheel of the company's single 50-foot, all-purpose boat, Annie A. The ship serves a variety of purposes, ferrying passengers as they hunt salmon with the firm hand of Captain Amy at the tiller or spot whale flukes with the eagle-eyed guidance of Captain Michael. It holds up to 20 people, providing ample railing-space for scenic views, as well as the comfort of a galley with free coffee. The captains, for their part, charter their vessel out for any kind of oceanic excursions, such as sea burials or hunts for that message in a bottle you lost.