Beach Meadow Bear

Beach Meadow Bear

We came across this black bear feeding in a meadow at the edge of a bay we were skiffing in. It briefly looked up at us for a moment before going back to eating sedges. Join us on one of our Alaska cruises and we’ll search for bears on the beach with you too.

Two humpback Whales

Two humpback whales

On one of our Alaska cruises trips last season, we came across a large group of humpback whales. There were maybe around 30 or so. I don’t know what they were up to, but they seemed to be busy at the surface. The main group was maybe a 1/2 mile from where we were watching them when these two surfaced in front of us on their way to join the others.

New Online Store

New Store for All Things David B

David B Merchandise After years of saying we should have an online store for all of our hoodies, mugs, hats, books, and things, we’ve finally done it. It went live this morning and we’re so excited to have a way for you to buy cool David B products without having to be on the boat.

More products are coming to the store, such as gift cards, photographic prints, and our own special blend of coffee called All Cylinders. To help us celebrate our new online store, you can use the coupon code YayMerch for a 10% discount for your CyberMonday purchase today through December 1, 2020. Visit our new store and find fun gifts for yourself and others.

For now, we are only able to sell to addresses in the US. Hopefully, someday we can expand to other countries.

Stay safe, stay well,


Sealions – The Grizzly of the Sea

Southeast Alaska is home to the Steller’s sea lion and these amazing animals are one of the most common marine mammals that we get to see aboard the David B. There are several haulouts in our cruising area and it’s a real experience to get to watch, hear, and smell a crowded haulout. One interesting tidbit about these sea lions is that their skulls are virtually indistinguishable from the skulls of grizzly, or coastal brown bears, as they are known in southeast Alaska. We once had a deckhand who liked to describe Steller’s sea lions as a grizzly stuffed into a tube.

Lamplough Blue

Lamplough Glacier - Alaska CruiseLamplough blue is my favorite color. It’s the color of the Lamplough Glacier, in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. When the time and tide is right, we take the skiff ashore at Lamplough and walk near the snout of the glacier. The ground is hard-packed from the weight of the recently receded glacier. The walk gives you a grand perspective of the glacier. It’s a remarkable place for photography, sketching, writing, and personal reflection. We hope you’ll join us one day.

UnBEARably Cute

Bears in love t shirt design Illustrator Rebecca Rothman just made the most adorable drawing of two brown bears from a photo I took during one of our cruises to the Pack Creek Bear Viewing Area a couple of years ago. It was a beautiful warm sunny spring day in Alaska. (Yes, May is often a beautiful month in southeast Alaska, but I digress.) Our guide Dan, from Pack Creek Bear Tours lead us across the tide flats to an open meadow where two bears were lazing in the sun — one was male, the other female. It was spring and love was in the air. The bears were about a hundred yards away from us.
We spent several hours in the meadow with the bears. We watched the male dote upon the female. He went where she went, if she got up to eat, he got up to eat. If she laid down, he laid down. It was fascinating to watch their gentle behavior. At one point when they were laying in the grass, she sat up and scratched her belly. The way he lifted his head and looked up at her melted my romantic heart. “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic,” came into my head. She laid back down again and he did too.
When Rebecca sent me her drawing, I fell in love with it and immediately wanted it as a T-shirt. Jeffrey suggested that we add the “I love you” to the bottom. I agreed because who wouldn’t want to spread a message of love.Two bears at Pack Creek bear viewing in alaska
In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be offering the I Love You Bears t-shirt in children’s and adult sizes. Pre-ordering will be on our website shortly.
Rebecca and I also have other T-shirt designs from my photos turned into her drawings in the works, but you’ll have to stay tuned…


Onward to 2021

David B in Alaska
At anchor in Alaska

We just finished our 2020 season with a nice weekend cruise in the San Juan Islands. It felt good. In spite of wildfire smoke, we had a wonderful time with a family who has been cruising with us for more seasons than I can remember. Over the years we’ve watched their kids grow into smart enthusiastic young adults. Having them on board was a truly lovely way to end what has otherwise been such a chaotic year.

Now that this season is behind us, it’s time to move onward into the future. Since many of our trips this season were postponed to 2021 we already have a fairly full schedule. This means we have limited availability for whole boat charters and many of our other trips in 2021, so be sure to get on the books sooner rather than later. If you are looking for specific dates that are further out, our 2022 schedule is also up.

Whale in Alaska - Small boat cruise
Captain Jeffrey watching a humpback this summer in Alaska

We are optimistic that as each day passes there will be new and better tools to fight the coronavirus, and travel (which is essential to curious and adventurous people) will return. It may take a while to be as carefree as we were prior to the virus, but we feel that operating the David B successfully this year and knowing more about how the virus works will lead to an even more successful season in 2021. We hope you will join us.

Stay safe, stay well,

PS – If you have any questions about any of our trips in Alaska, the San Juan Islands, or the Inside Passage, send Sarah, an email or give her a call at 360-474-7218.

The Results Are In!

Success Aboard the David B in 2020

Small Ship Cruise in Glacier Bay
David B in Glacier Bay

This year has been quite the roller coaster ride for everyone and running a small business in the middle of a global pandemic hasn’t been especially easy either. To pull off this season we ducked and dodged, pivoted, changed, rescheduled, and repositioned. We stayed up late running scenarios and talking about “what-ifs.” We made plans, submitted documents, made decisions, and phoned, emailed and texted with guests. We rescheduled, pushed dates back, and did more rescheduling. At times it felt like a never-ending juggling act. It has been exhausting with all the concerns and the fears of the unknown. However, exhaustion and fear haven’t stopped us. With a lot of thought, planning, and care (especially from our guests) we were able to conduct an abbreviated season in Alaska. It felt like a HUGE win.

Here’s why our season worked:

  • Testing – Alaska’s Health Mandates required people traveling to Alaska to present a negative test result within 72 hours prior to arrival. While this is not required in the state of Washington, we are requiring this same testing for our San Juan Islands cruises.
  • Masks – Wearing masks during travel to the boat was key to us being able to run trips. This kept guests safe after their tests while they made their way to the boat.
  • Black bear in Alaska
    Black bear at Fords Terror

    Pre-trip preparations – Besides being tested and wearing masks during travel, all of our guests practiced pre-trip isolation and kept a log of their temperature for 14-days prior to travel.

Jeffrey and I also kept to ourselves and limited our contacts and stayed out of restaurants, bars. We also tested before each trip. We needed to make sure that we were also being conscientious and safe.

Glacier in Alaska Small ship cruise
Walking among icebergs at Lamplough Glacier

The reward for all the planning and preparations this year was having Alaska essentially to ourselves. There were few other boats and no cruise ships. This year gave our guests (and us) the chance to escape from the stress of a frightening global pandemic and some time to recharge. It was a truly amazing experience. I felt like we saw more of the wild part of the wilderness. It was more visible as a habitat and ecosystem and not just a playground for human beings. The solitude could be eerie, but then a sense of peace would overcome that eerie feeling with the notion that the silver lining of the pandemic is a chance to be still and reevaluate our priorities.

For me, I see travel as a priority that is essential to human hearts and souls. As curious animals, most of us desire to see new places and to meet new people. It’s because when we explore or take on an adventure that we learn and the world becomes more alive. During this time of restriction and isolation, I have realized just how much travel means to me, and not as a tour operator, but as someone who desires to grow and be shaped by the experiences gained from my travels. Maintaining travel as a priority has become even more important to me.

Each one of us has our own level of acceptable risk. And each one of us will return to travel when the time is right. As we celebrate that we safely conducted our Alaska season, we recognize that we can’t let up. We are committed to the same level of care and concern in 2021 and beyond. You can be assured that we will continue to offer the opportunity to reschedule trips due to issues related to coronavirus and we will continue our best practices to provide you with the safest possible way to visit Alaska, the Inside Passage, or the San Juan Islands.

Touching a glacier in Alaska
Captain Jeffrey touches a glacier

I also need to say, I am extremely grateful to all of our guests who came to Alaska with us this year. You helped us gain the experience to successfully operate in ways that other types of cruises cannot. Your willingness to undergo a stringent preparation to travel set a good example for our small niche market to succeed. You helped not just us and the David B, but our whole niche to recover through your careful actions. At this time, it looks like all of our owner/operator boat friends who went north this year were also successful with their abbreviated seasons. This reinforces my feelings that our style of small independent travel attracts the most conscientious and respectful people. For that, thank you!

We are also grateful to all of our guests who worked with us to reschedule for 2021 and 2022. While we missed you, we look forward to seeing you and we are deeply grateful for your flexibility in a difficult time.

We have one San Juan Islands trip and a couple of opportunities for whole boat charters in the San Juans before we exit the turbulent waters of 2020 and focus on 2021 and beyond. If you are interested in any of our remaining trips, this year, next year, or in 2022, please feel free to contact us.

Stay well, be safe,

PS – If you have any questions about testing or PPE in regards to travel to the David B, Sarah is more than happy to talk with you. She can be reached at her email or at 360-474-7218

Plotting a Course

Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship Cruises“So, what if…,” has been the beginning of most of our conversations as we search for signs of when we’ll be able to start our season. Since we operate in two US states and a Canadian province, we’re constantly monitoring the orders of Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia looking for news of when we can fire up the engine and get underway.

Over the last few days it feels like there are some encouraging signs. The cases of coronavirus in Washington state have plateaued. There are some cautious steps being taken to ease some of our restrictions. It’s also been encouraging to see that some airlines are requiring people to wear masks, which is something we hope will become widespread in the coming weeks and months. As each day passes, the smart people in labs are learning more and more about how this virus works. It’s good to hear that new treatments are being tried and possible vaccines being developed.

So, what if…

Until there’s a vaccine, we are all going to have to adapt to life with a new and dangerous disease. It means we’ll do things differently and more cautiously. How will that happen? Here are some of the things that we’re monitoring:

  • The lifting of travel restrictions in Alaska, Washington, and Alaska.
  • The lifting of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all people arriving in Alaska.
  • The possible seasonality of the virus.
  • The ability to perform more testing.
  • The need for pre-travel health screenings and waivers.
  • The requirement to wear masks on flights and in public spaces.
  • The continued social distancing rules.
Last week when our scheduled departure date came and went, my heart ached. I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes in the movie, Winged Migration, where a grandmotherly woman, wearing a scarf on her head, watches a flock of cranes in a field. As the birds take flight, she stands with her arms at her sides. However, her wrists flick involuntarily in a wing-like motion. It gets me every time. Like the old woman, I see the cranes carry my dreams on their wings. I want to fly with them. I want to go where they go.Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship Cruises
So what if we will be able to salvage the latter part of this season — either with the schedule we have or a modified schedule? However it works, we’re plotting a course for the future by working on safety protocols so we may still operate with passengers, who are comfortable traveling during this time. That way, if there is a chance to safely get underway and do what we love to do, we’ll be ready.

So, what if…?

Stay safe. Stay well,


We’re Not Leaving Today…Because It’s Friday

Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship CruisesSailors are a superstitious bunch. It seems that there is a superstition for everything on boats: no bananas, no flowers, no whistling, no women nor redheads (Sorry Sarah) to name a few.
Every year, with the exception of one, we have started our season on a Thursday, because it’s bad luck to start a voyage on a Friday. The one year we accidentally did begin our season on a Friday, we had problem after problem. We joked that the problems were with either gremlins or because we started our voyage on a Friday. After three days, we consulted a friend who was well versed in maritime lore. He suggested we “start the trip over” and do some “fresh provisioning.” So we sent our guests out kayaking, while Jeffrey and I took the skiff to the beach to gather some wild greens. When the guests arrived back at the boat we welcomed them to their new trip. They played along with the rouse and we didn’t have any more trouble.

So yesterday, (Thursday, April 23rd) we were scheduled to start our first trip of the year, but as we all know, Alaska is closed until May 19th. For me it was a bit of a melancholy day thinking about how much I had been looking forward to the trip north and the new season.

In the later part of the afternoon, while I was on deck washing the boat, I looked up to see a familiar face. It was a woman who lives locally and has been on a couple of Alaska cruises with us. She was stopping by to pick up some rocks she had collected on a previous trip, and she was also checking in on us to ask how we were doing. Seeing and talking with her really raised my spirits.

This morning Jeffrey and I had a long talk about what it feels like to be “on hold.” We agreed that one of the silver linings of this whole mess is reconnecting with so many people in the David B community. We’ve enjoyed all the Facebook and Instagram comments, conversations, phone calls, texts and notes back from our emails.

For example, there was a nice comment on Instagram that said, “Hang in there! We’re rooting for you.” It helped me to remember that this whole pandemic is temporary, and we’ll be back doing what we love with our amazing community.

In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy seeing you in all these socially distant ways, and we hope y’all are hanging in there too!

Stay well,

PS – Our 2021 and 2022 schedules are on our website.
PPS – Plus to avoid any bad luck we will continue to start our seasons on a Thursday.
PPPS – Feel free to email Sarah with any questions about our upcoming seasons.

Since we didn’t get to start our season because of the coronavirus, here’s a little clip from the first day of last year.