Approximately 50 people including local dignitaries, hotel concierges, journalists and folks from the tourism industry boarded the M.V. Saratoga on Wednesday morning for its inaugural trip out of its Edmonds port.
The 149-seat catamaran is a member of the Puget Sound Express fleet, a family-run whale watching company that has provided wildlife cruises for over 33 years in Port Townsend and Edmonds.
Attendees were offered coffee and a delicious BlueBerry Buckle as they boarded. The water was calm, the temperature warm and the skies beautiful as we headed north to Possession Sound and Useless Bay where we almost immediately saw spouting from the gray whales we ended up watching during our time on the water.
“This is a very special event for Puget Sound Express,” said co-owner Peter Hanke. “The Saratoga is the first boat that we have had the opportunity to build, and we designed and built it with customers, whales, and the environment in mind. Since launching our half-day Seattle Whale Watching tours in Edmonds, we’ve seen tremendous interest in the metro area for whale watching, and the Saratoga will help us safely and comfortably meet that need.”
The Saratoga is a catamaran with two asymmetrical semi-planing hulls, and an articulated hydrofoil that allows the boat to efficiently travel at 35 knots, which is approximately 40 mph. This design, coupled with finely-tuned, wave-piercing bows, allows the boat to travel through both calm and rough water at speed, while keeping underwater noise to a minimum. All 4 Scania D16 engines have waterlift mufflers, and carbon fiber driveshafts to save weight. The engine room is equipped with state of the art sound proofing to make the passenger cabin quiet and comfortable.
In addition to a wrap-around viewing deck, restrooms, and galley, the Saratoga is equipped with seven HDTVs and a premium sound system with speakers inside and out, for whale watching naturalist presentations.
“The folks at All American Marine did an outstanding job working with us to construct what we believe is the finest whale watching boat in the fleet,” said Hanke.
• Vessel Horsepower: 3800hp
• Main Engines: Scania D16
• Jets: Hamilton Jet 364
• Hull Length: 72′-11″
• Beam Width: 29′-6″
Puget Sound Express operates guaranteed whale watching and wildlife tours out of Port Townsend, and Edmonds, WA. The company’s vessels include the 60-seat high speed foilcat Chilkat Express, and new 149-seat high speed catamaran Saratoga, which depart from Edmonds; as well as the 70-seat Glacier Spirit and 40-seat RedHead, which depart from Port Townsend. All boats feature comfortable indoor seating, large viewing windows, and outdoor viewing decks. Tours may be reserved online at http://pugetsoundexpress.co
–Photos by Julia Wiese