Sailing the San Juan Islands with Marine Biologist Ken Clifton

This trip is sold out.
Participants are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

July 11-16, 2022

Feel the wind in your hair on a Two-Masted Gaff Topsail Schooner, while Professor of Biology Ken Clifton describes the flora and fauna you see about you. Join Professor Clifton and Lewis & Clark alumni and friends on this exciting adventure, exploring the magnificent waters of the San Juan Islands aboard the historic Schooner Zodiac!

Guests are encouraged to join the crew, helping to hoist the 7000 feet of sails. When not assisting with sailing duties, you may be in the chart room, learning about navigation or actually at the helm of this fine vessel. You might grab the binoculars to see a passing orca or actually help with chores and swab the deck. While enjoying the ship’s excellent meals you can share stories from your time at Lewis & Clark or compare notes from the day’s adventures.


The Schooner Zodiac originally launched in 1924. While aboard, passengers stay in single berths or private staterooms and socialize in common areas for meals and other gatherings. The Zodiac is heated and well ventilated.

Being a vintage craft, guests share close quarters on the lower deck. On the top deck guests enjoy the fresh air, starry skies and more open spaces. The 24 guests, plus the crew share three restrooms. While there are showers aboard the Zodiac, for water conservation purposes, guests are not encouraged to take daily showers. Please take the virtual tour here before registering.

Standard berths are 48 inch bunks, adjacent to the ship’s salon and feature a heavy curtain. Guests need to store their gear with them in their berth as space on board is limited.

The ship’s staterooms are located both forward and aft and contain multiple bunks, a sink, a mirror and a door for privacy.

One must be able to negotiate stairs and narrow walkways in order to navigate the living areas on the Schooner Zodiac. See the virtual tour here.

See the Schooner Zodiac photo gallery here. See pictures from previous trips. The Schooner Zodiac sails out of Bellingham, WA.

Participants are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Group Size

26 participants.

Pricing Information- This trip is sold out
Standard Upper Berth:
$1499 per person. (The single berths are sold out for this voyage. Join the wait list here.)
Standard Lower Berth: $2299 per person. (The standard lower berths are sold out for this voyage. Join the wait list here.)
2-Person Stateroom: $3999 for two people. (The staterooms are sold out for this voyage. Join the wait list here.)

TRAVEL INSURANCE IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for Lewis & Clark trips, please click here for more information.


Monday, July 11
     • 9:30 a.m., Board the Schooner Zodiac at Bellingham Cruise Terminal
     • 10 am Set sail and follow the wind!
     • Possibly drop anchor nestled in behind Decatur Head
     • Possible hiking on James Island
Tuesday, July 12
     • Enjoy the thermal winds in Orcas Island’s Eastsound.
     • 2:30-ish, go ashore at Eastsound, Orcas Island. Free time to explore..
     • 5 pm, meet at Doe Bay Wine Company
     • Possible overnight anchorage at Buck Bay.
Wednesday, July 13
     • Depending on the wind, sail through Upright Channel.
     • Or head back out through Obstruction Pass and down Rosario Strait.      
     • Take the kayaks or sailing dinghy out for a spin. 
Thursday, July 14
     • Make our way north in San Juan Channel.
     • 12:30-ish go ashore to explore San Juan Island.
     • Visit the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor.
          o Professor Clifton will lead the group through the Whale Museum.
     • 3:30 p.m., board the Jolly Trolley in Friday Harbor. Stops include 
          o The McMillan Mausoleum 
          o Roche Harbor 
          o Pelindaba Lavender Farm 
     • Reboard the Schooner Zodiac.
     • Watch the sunset from our anchorage at Parks Bay on Shaw Island

Friday, July 15
     • Find some wind and go sailing!
     • Time to go ashore and check out the tide pools.
     • Possible overnight anchorage at Echo Bay, Sucia Island.
Saturday, July 16
     • Sail back to Bellingham.


  • Great care has been taken to restore the Schooner Zodiac to the way she looked when first commissioned; varnished mahogany, oak and teak are focal points throughout her main salon and galley.
  • Professor Clifton will help bring the Northwest biology to life.
  • Magnificent orca whales live in the San Juan Islands year round; it is the best place in the world to see them. You can also view humpbacks, minkes and even gray whales.
  • While the crew of the Schooner Zodiac can make no guarantees about the weather, they always endeavor to give passengers a fun filled and unforgettable experience.
  • Note from Ken-  There will be some big tides that week (high highs and low lows), so might be good for some intertidal biology lessons if such options present themselves… also potentially strong currents.

Included Services

  • Five nights and six days aboard the Schooner Zodiac.
  • While aboard the Schooner Zodiac, all meals and snacks are prepared by the ship’s professional chef using the freshest Northwest ingredients.
  • Use of kayaks and rowboat.
  • Shore excursions to state parks and quaint island towns.

Not Included

  • Roundtrip flights and transportation from home city to Bellingham, WA
  • Hotel accommodations and dinner on Sunday, July 10
  • Travel Insurance- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  • Any items of a personal nature

TRAVEL INSURANCE IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED and often must be purchased within seven days of making your trip deposit. It is available from most insurance companies and travel agents. Two companies that provide travel insurance are and You are free to use any provider of your choosing. Read the plans carefully to make sure you have the coverage that best suits you.

Learn More about Ken Clifton

Professor Clifton has been teaching biology at Lewis & Clark for over twenty years. His studies of marine biology and vertebrate behavior have taken him across the planet, with extended periods of research in far-flung places like Panama, Australia, Micronesia and East Africa. With over 13,000 hours of scuba and snorkeling experience, and nearly 1700 species on his bird list, Ken is well suited to teach us about the birds, mammals, and other marine life we encounter during our expedition, including whales, dolphins, seals, and myriad seabirds. He is also a strong advocate for conservation and the environment.

Ken is a seasoned veteran of L&C study abroad programs, having led five trips to East Africa and another to Micronesia. Perhaps not surprisingly, the courses he teaches at L&C: Animal Behavior, Marine Biology, Vertebrate Zoology, and Introductory Ecology, all have strong field components in their curriculum. In addition to leading study abroad programs, he has also led an alumni trip to Tanzania, and will accompany the group going to Antarctica in January of 2022. In his free time Ken enjoys nature photography, fishing from his boat, the Samaki Kubwa (“big fish” in Swahili), and trying to keep up with his two-year old granddaughter.