About Us

On behalf of myself and the crew of the Catalyst and Westward, I would like to welcome you!

One of our greatest joys is to share both our wonderful vessels and our passion for the intricate waterways of the Pacific Northwest and the wonders of the Sea of Cortez and Baja.


I hope that you will take the time to wander through our website and become our shipmates in a water-borne adventure.

Our warm interiors, with decades-old varnished wood paneling, heavy beamed ceilings, and glowing mahogany trim and furniture, take us back to a time when craftsmanship was the rule rather than the exception. The slow pulse of our original 1932 Washington Diesel engine, the only one like it in the world, makes Catalyst a living creature with a strong iron heart. The older 1924 Atlas, the oldest running one in the world outside of the Smithsonian, graces the Westward with the same life beat. We use large battery banks that allow us to go for 12 hours without starting an engine to disrupt the quiet solitude that is at the core of a Pacific Catalyst trip. Why invest in a trip that feeds only a few of your senses?

There is not a day when underway that I am not moved to tears by the literally breathtaking beauty of our cruising grounds. Our quiet vessel, Catalyst, which so ably invokes an earlier time, drifts among icebergs and through narrow fjords that are fresh from the glaciers’ gouge. We cruise beside forests of impossible greens, all the while exploring deep, clear-jade waters that teem with life. There is always something to hold our senses captive! The colors are unbelievable, the sounds rich and varied, and the smell of air freshly distilled from sea and forest is unforgettable.

Why not spend what may be your one trip to Alaska being able to fully embrace not just the sights that every guest on every big cruise ship sees, but also the cliff-rimmed coves, the stunningly silent and calm anchorages where the only sounds are nesting guillemots, or the explosive breaths of passing humpback whales? Why not travel on a vessel that stops for hours, engines off, drifting with an inquisitive humpback who is intent on making eye contact with us? Instead of going off your diet for your vacation, why not find out how amazingly delicious healthy food can be?

I have watched an adobe-red moon rise out of the valley between two cactus-fringed hills, listened to the sounds of ridley sea turtles as they swam around the boat in the dark, and experienced a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins as they gathered on the bow to celebrate our passing by leaping 3 feet out of the water. I have looked across turquoise water that almost audibly invites me in for a swim. I have seen majestic frigate birds gather to rise on thermal winds and then dive into the sea like spears as they seek their dinner from the teeming school of fish below. I have listened in the star-lit night as hundreds of mobula rays slapped the water, making it sound like someone nearby was making a gigantic batch of Jiffy Pop. And I have watched impossibly beautiful sunrises and sunsets, each one unique and all worth pausing whatever I was doing just to give them my full focus.

Our focus is to take you deeper into the regions in which we cruise, not necessarily further. That is why we seldom travel at night. Night in Baja is not a time to waste in noisy and brightly lit travel. It is a time to sit in silence, listening as rays jump just beyond the light cast by our anchor light, and watching as the small fish that have schooled around our boat leave phosphorescent trails in the water, mirroring the shooting stars above.

Our quest, both in Baja and Alaska, is to provide an opportunity for you to have an experience that continues to resonate in you throughout your life.

We would love to meet you, hear your stories, and share ours. Our lives are about sharing with you both the Pacific Northwest waters that we love so much and the turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez. We are one of the very few boats operating in the PNW and Baja that are true family operations. We are totally and completely committed to making your vacation the best experience it can be.

This is the place where “once in a lifetime” happens.

Please consider joining us this winter in Baja California or this summer in Southeast Alaska or the Pacific Northwest. As always, we look forward to having you aboard.

Until we sail,

Captain Bill Bailey

All photos on this site are credited to God’s Pocket Photography, crew and guests aboard the MV Catalyst and MV Westward, Carlos Cajón Bermúdez and Wendy Shattil & Bob Rozinski; Dancing Pelican/Shattil / Rozinski Photography, with all rights reserved. Cannot be used or replicated without permission of photographer and/or Pacific Catalyst II, Inc.

  • Chevron down MV Catalyst History
  • M/V Catalyst was the University of Washington’s first oceanographic research vessel. In 1932 Thomas G. Thompson, then professor of chemistry, began a personal crusade to establish a school of oceanography at the university. With the help of a $60,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, he started both the school and the construction of Catalyst.

    The vessel was designed by Roland and Strickland, prominent Seattle naval architects. The design was largely based on the experiences of the university’s scientists who had suffered through many research expeditions aboard poorly equipped converted fishing boats. Every aspect of her construction, from the location of the engine to the size of the vessel, was centered around the needs of the laboratory scientists. As a result of her careful design, Catalyst rolled down the ways on her launching day as the most state-of-the-art research vessel of her time.

    Catalyst was built by Lake Union Dry Dock Company in Seattle. She was completed in June of 1932 and took her maiden cruise through the Inside Passage and across the Gulf of Alaska. She spent the next eleven years collecting data, primarily in Puget Sound. The information collected from the decks of Catalyst in the 1930s formed the foundation for today’s understanding of the region’s water quality.

    The bombs that fell on Pearl Harbor during WWII soon had an effect on the M/V Catalyst. In 1942, Dr. Thompson offered Catalyst to the Navy to help in the war effort. The Navy conscripted the vessel, mounted a machine gun on top of her pilot house and racks of depth charges on her stern. She spent the war years patrolling the Aleutian Islands for Japanese submarines.

    After the war, the Navy sold Catalyst as surplus. She was purchased by an Alaskan mining company and was handsomely refit. The main house was moved forward and the wheelhouse was placed atop it. Hatches, fore, and aft were created to access new holds for carrying tungsten ore. Catalyst hauled ore south to Seattle, but also carried supplies and, perhaps more importantly, guests north through the Inside Passage. After all that work, the company had the boat for only two years, but every owner since has benefited from the beautiful work they did.

    Over the next forty years, Catalyst was owned by a few lucky mariners who used her for everything from a mail packet to a floating dentist’s office. The waters of Alaska, Baja California, and Hawaii have all passed beneath her keel. Now she has been restored to her original purpose, learning about the oceanic world. Only this time it is adventurous travelers like you, not research scientists, who benefit from her mission.

    Historical Outline

    • 1931   Catalyst was constructed. Grant from Rockefeller Foundation ($60,000) Built in Lake Union Shipyard.
    • 1932, June  Dedication. Left for Alaska.
    • 1936  Thomas G. Thompson article
    • 1940  Crew: Captain Christian T. Larson, Cook: Louis Mortenson, (Students): Engineer: Herb Chatterton, Deckhand: North Burn, Scientific Deckhands: Bob Wilson, Ralf Jentoft, John Illman.
    • 1942, May; laid up due to WWII, sold to Coast Guard?
    • 1944  Requistioned by the Coast Guard, duty as CG72002, armed with 50 caliber machine gun and two depth charge racks. In District 13. Possible service in Alaska patrolling Aleutians. Still registered till 1949 with the University of Washington, though registered in 1948 in Ketchikan.
    • 1947 -1949 Possibly leased to J.H. Scott Co who operated the Riverside Tungsten and Lead Mine, as she was used by her during this time.
    • 1947, Feb.5 – Bob Ellis book, Peg’s scrapbook, pg. 77: Catalyst at Wrangell Narrows on way to Hyder.  Herb Anderson fell overboard and was revived. Skipper: Fred McKay, Cook: Bill Eastham  > Most likely Herb was on his way to the  Riverside Tungsten and Lead Mine that operated near Hyder, Alaska. Boat leased by J.H. Scott Co which operated the mine. Boat registered to the University of Washington but located in Ketchikan.
    • 1949 Conversion completed.  (article: Pacific Motor Boat, Nov. 1949) Redesigned by Frank E. Strickland, Seattle Naval architect, one of the original architects of the Catalyst.  J.H. Scott Co. of San Francisco operated the Riverside tungsten and lead mine near Hyder, Alaska. Catalyst registered in Ketchikan. Modified to take mining personnel and supplies north and to bring sacked tungsten ore from mine in Alaska to Puget Sound. Work was done by Puget Sound Marina of Seattle. Aft and forward staterooms converted to cargo holds. Deckhouse cut off aft and extended forward to house an enlarged galley. Pilothouse placed on top of new cabin extension. Stack raised. Berths for 11 passengers, captain, and 2 crew members. Haul 60 tons of ore. Documented as a freight vessel of 94 gross and 64 net tons.  Registered in Ketchikan by the J.H. Scott Co.
    • 1949-1958 owned by J.H. Scott Co, which operated the Riverside Tungsten and Lead Mine.
    • 1951 Purchased by O.H. Freeman of Seattle.
    • 1959 Purchased by V. Ray Bennett
    • 1960-1961 Owned by Sea Samaritans, Inc.
    • 1962 Purchased by Jack. C. Ward, with a home port of Los Angeles.
    • 1962 Purchased by Jack W. Langley, home port of Coos Bay, OR. With family of six lived aboard and travelled up and down coast to Mexico.
    • 1965 Purchased by J. R. Henderson of San Diego.
    • 1968 Purchased by  James E. Moffet of San Francisco who moored her at Jack London Square, Oakland. Here she was see by John and Marjorie (Kincaid) Illman on their 25th Wedding Anniversary. Name changed to NORTH SEA
    • 1968- Jan. 1987 CATALYST was renamed the NORTH SEA
    • 1969 Purchased by William P. Austin. Major refit.  Installed refrigeration equipment, rigged for long distance albacore fishing. Family lived aboard, cruising from Mexico to Northern Vancouver Island.
    • 1983 Registered to Scott McDonald and moored in Sacramento.
    • 1984, May – 1987 Purchased by Jack Buffum and Karen Shufelberger.  Refurbished her. Restored her name to CATALYST in January 1987. Lived aboard and cruised. Did extensive work to restore galley, a salon, and the stateroom.  Restored cabins and head and installed a shower.  Moored in Poulsbo, WA. “Offered to take paying passengers anywhere in the world.”
    • 1994, April 15th, purchased by Pete and Tracy Dellavalle and eleven backers after a presentation by Holly Wheeler to the Threshold Foundation to use boat for environmental charters. Tom George put in charge of restoration after a shakedown cruise in the San Juan Islands.
    • 1994 May 1st, $150,000 repairs and renovation in Port Hudson (Port Townsend), WA. Watertanks, bulkheads replaced (though upon examination the bulkheads were repaired but not restored). Staterooms and crews quarters redone. New bilge and fire pumps.  Tom Doran, in the engine room, stripped and rebuilt engine and supporting machinery. Electrical
    • Purchased along with business by Hugh Reilly who leased the Westward to Pacific Catalyst Expeditions, LLC.
    • 2005 March  Purchased along with business, Pacific Catalyst Expeditions, LLC,   from Hugh Reilly by Bill Bailey, who in June continued the charter business, as Pacific Catalyst II, Inc. Purchased only the Catalyst. The Westward remained in the ownership of Hugh Reilly, who remodeled the Westward galley and rebuilt her hull and took her on a round the Pacific cruise for several years. Meanwhile, the Catalyst had  Cabin 3 remodeled making the two single bunks into a double bunk. Redecorated. New dishes, etc., pictures. Salon and galley tables refinished.
    • Fall 2005 through Spring 2006, major remodel of pilot house and top deck. Exposed and expanded skylights. Extended pilot house to build new Cabin 6 with own head and shower. Cabin not finished that season but used by Captain. Tarped all winter while working on the boat. Top deck was completely redone. Took out door in salon and replaced with window, using door for Cabin 6. Added new freezer and refrigerator on forward deck over old cargo hold. New refrigerator in galley. Repainted galley and areas of salon. New metal railings built around pilot house and for stairs.
    • Fall 2006 through Spring 2007, new galley cushions, build buffet bar, rebuilt cabin 1 with own head and shower, finished head and shower in Cabin 6, and build head and shower in crew’s quarters. Adding trash compactor. Redid electrical and plumbing. New watermaker.
    •  Fall 2007 through Spring 2008. Redid more electrical and plumbing.  Rebuild pilot house bunk and steering station, installing new electronics and captain’s chair. Adding coffee/tea bar and sink in galley, hood for stove and new counter to hide trash compactor extending the counter in the galley next to the stove. Old water tank taken out from under the bunk in Cabin 4. Closet closed in properly in Cabin 2, with the clothes cupboards in Cabin 2 and 3 closed in. New lighting overhead to cover wires and pipes in below deck hall. Cabin 3 finished off and repainted. New stairs for front deck. Crew head and shower finished and crew quarters painted. Refinished salon walls and tables in salon and galley.
  • Chevron down MV Catalyst Specs
    • Length Overall: 74’7″   Beam: 18’4″   Draft: 9’4″   Displacement: 110 tons
    • Cruising Speed: 8 knots
    • Main Engine: 6 cylinder 8×10 Washington Estep diesel, 120 h.p. at 450 r.p.m. (This is the original engine rebuilt and maintained)
    • Fuel: 2,200 gallons   Fresh Water: 800 gallons with R.O. water maker
    • Range: 4,000 nautical miles
    • Accommodations: for up to 12 passengers and 4 to 5 crew
    • Construction: Oak frames, Alaska yellow cedar planked. Douglas fir keel with a 2-inch heel of Australian ironbark
    • Built by: Lake Union Dry Docks, Seattle, Washington, 1932
    • Designed by: Roland & Strickland
    • Navigation:2x Radar, G.P.S. and depth finders   Communications: VHF, satellite and cellular telephones
    • Specialty Equipment: Underwater hydrophone, viewing aquarium, microscope, presentation projector, whiteboard, two laptop computers, one for navigation, one for digital pictures, boat camera, stereo CD/iPod player, twelve pairs of binoculars for guests.
    • Auxiliary Power: 12 kW generator and batteries   Ships Power: 110 volts AC and 12/24 volts DC
    • Auxiliary Watercraft: 12-foot aluminum and 17.5 -foot inflatable utility boats, 6 double sea kayaks, and 3 single sea kayaks.
    • Chest freezer and refrigerator on front deck. Refrigerator in the galley.
    • Marine Sanitation System upgrade in 2009.
    • Six guest cabins. Cabins 1, 2, 3 and 6 each feature private heads, sinks and showers. Cabins 4 and 5 share a large toilet space with a cedar lined shower, head and sink. There is a separate head with sink on the main deck level. The crew has their own head and shower in the focsle.
  • Chevron down MV Westward History
  • MV Westward
    Built 1924 in Vashon Island, WA
    Length 86’ Beam 18.5’ Draft 9’
    Powered by original Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine

    M/V Westward was designed by the renowned Northwest naval architect L.E. “Ted” Geary and built at the J.A. Martinolich Shipyard in Dockton, Washington. The Westward was modeled after a salmon cannery tender and constructed around a 1923 Atlas engine. She was launched in 1924 as the flagship of the Alaska Coast Hunting and Cruising Co. and pioneered hunting, fishing, and adventure travel in the remote regions of Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska.

    Westward and Alaska Coast served a noteworthy clientele of hunters and fishermen for nearly twenty years. Distinguished guests included Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, George Eastman, A.C. Gilbert, E.F. Hutton, Marjorie Merriweather Post, Paul Mellon, Richard K. Mellon, Hal Roach, Rudolph Schilling, John Wayne, Dean Witter, and numerous other VIPs of the era.

    During WWII, Westward served as a patrol boat off the California coast before returning to the Pacific Northwest, where she operated another 20 years, as both private yacht and charter vessel, for two different owners.

    In 1967, Westward was purchased by a California couple, Donald G. and Anna Louise Gumpertz, and moved to Los Angeles. From this new homeport, Westward cruised the world extensively, including a 47,000-mile circumnavigation of the globe from 1970 to 1976.

    Westward was purchased by Hugh Reilly and returned to the Pacific Northwest in 1993 to resume her career as a charter and expedition vessel operating in southeast Alaska. The charter business was sold to Bill Bailey, along with the other expedition vessel, M/V Catalyst. Hugh Reilly retained ownership of the Westward.

    Hugh Reilly had Westward’s hull extensively rebuilt in 2005 – 2006 to mitigate the impact of more than 80 years’ operation and to ensure her vitality for a second century. Then he and his wife, Teresa, circumnavigated the Pacific Ocean from 2007 to 2008. Westward continued to be used as a personal yacht for his family until December 2012.

    In December 2012, Bill Bailey, of Pacific Catalyst II, purchased her for use in their adventure travel business. She is now ported in Friday Harbor, WA, alongside the M/V Catalyst once again.

    Westward remains dependably powered by her original Atlas Imperial diesel engine and has benefitted from continuous upgrades to her engine, systems, structure, and accommodations. She is listed with the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, her life having been well documented through the efforts of Hugh Reilly and John Sabella, particularly her contribution to maritime history in the Pacific Northwest and the United States of America.

    Short clip about the Westward and her history and her association with the Catalyst

  • Chevron down MV Westward Specs
    • Length Overall: 86′   Beam: 18’8″   Draft: 9’5″   Displacement: 137.5 tons
    • Cruising Speed: 8 knots
    • Main Engine: 4 cylinder Atlas 9×12 diesel, 110 h.p. at 300 r.p.m.
    • Fuel: 3,000 gallons   Fresh Water: 1000 gallons with R.O. water maker
    • Range: 4,000 nautical miles   Accommodations: up to 11 passengers
    • Built by: Martinolich Shipyard, Vashon Island, Washington, for Alaska Hunting & Fishing Company, 1924
    • Designed by: Ted Geary
  • Chevron down Southeast Alaska Area Links
  • Alaska Travel Industry AssociationThe ATIA will be the leading industry organization promoting Alaska as a top visitor destination, communicating and promoting the Alaskan tourism industry as one of the state’s major economic forces, and will be the respected voice of the industry for the growth of the industry, while remaining attentive to care for the environment, recognition of cultures and Alaska’s unique quality of life.

    Alaska AirThe nation’s ninth-largest carrier and its sister carrier, Horizon Air, together serve 80 cities in Alaska, the Lower 48, Canada and Mexico. Visit the website for reservations, news, aircraft information, and history of Alaska Airlines.

    Traveling in AlaskaIs like traveling no other place on earth. There are 586,000 square miles here, and almost that many possibilities. This is the place to begin your travel planning.

    JuneauIs Alaska’s capital and the third largest city in the state. Like Alaska, Juneau is full of contrasts, a sophisticated cosmopolitan city in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. Nestled at the base of towering mountains overlooking the Gastineau Channel, the community’s rich culture and history is displayed throughout the town and in several local museums.

    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC)A coalition of eighteen member groups in fourteen communities, stretching along the coast of Southeast Alaska whos goal is to safeguard the integrity of Southeast Alaska’s unsurpassed natural environment, while providing for the sustainable use of the region’s natural resources.

    Alaska Department of Fish and GameOur mission of is to protect, maintain, and improve the fish, game, and aquatic plant resources of the state, and manage their use and development for the maximum benefit of the people of the state, consistent with the sustained yield principle.

    Alaska Climate and Research CenterProvides meteorology and climatology information on Alaska from public, private, and government agencies, and from researchers around the world.

    Alaska Whale FoundationA nonprofit organization committed to research, conservation, and public education about marine mammals in Southeast Alaska.


    More Links We Like 

    Cloud Ridge Naturalists Dancing Pelican/Shattil/Rozinski Photography

    Sarah Drummond Art

    Go North Alaska

    SeaDoc Society

    Gods Pocket Photography

    Kestrel Bailey Photography

    Friday Harbor bed and breakfasts