Big ship cruise not for you? Try gunkhole cruising

Gunkhole cruisingGunkhole cruising is cruising in shallow water, meandering from place to place and spending the nights in coves. The term refers to the gunk, or mud, typical of the creeks, coves, marshes, sloughs, and rivers that are referred to as gunkhole.

This is a place where big cruise ships can’t go.

It’s “that ideal but shallow anchorage that was dicey at best to get into in the first place and impossible to leave behind after experiencing. It’s the place where you might be all alone, at least for most of the time, unless you count the wildlife. It’s the place you never mention to anyone for fear of spoiling what only you alone know about. It’s the place you dream abouta yachter’s paradise of quiet, scenic anchorages” says CoastalBoating.net.

Beginning September 14, 2012, American Safari Cruises tiny, 22-guest Safari Quest does this sailing from Seattle.

“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 (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.

Cruise fares start at $3,995 per person based on double occupancy. The inclusive cruise includes all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; all meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; and all port charges, taxes and fees. The 22-guest Safari Quest features a hot tub, Tempur-pedic mattresses, heated tile floors in all bathrooms and upper category balconies. An all-American crew has a guest-crew ratio of 2 to 1. Yachts can be booked as a private charter or by individual stateroom.

Well-known in yachting circles as a favorite for gunkhole cruising 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 of Seattle, Washington.

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