Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, all our staff are experienced boaters. And, yes, they are highly competent. But frankly so are those of some other companies. If I were to summarize our goals into one phrase, I'd say we have a passion to provide exceptional service. Whether it is imparting the joy of cruising through our school, providing a wonderful charter, or assisting in buying or selling a boat, our greatest joy comes from highly satisfied customers. We try to walk in their shoes. And frankly, it makes our "job" a joy.
Marlene and I founded San Juan Sailing in May, 1982. Before that we chartered out our San Juan 24' sailboat, taught friends to sail, and really enjoyed the experience.
Three. Instruction, charter and brokerage (used boats).
Charter has gradually grown from 45% to now 55% being repeat charter guests. (One guest has chartered with us for 31 out of our 32 years.) Many of our charter guests (and a number of our boat owners) are Sailing or Power School grads, others come back for advanced training, and still others use our brokers to find their ideal boat. But it is difficult to calculate exact percentages on how many graduates do what with us. The same is true of our brokerage where many clients are either charter guests or have earlier purchased or sold a boat through our brokerage.
Preventive maintenance is gospel around here, and affects all three divisions. Of course, charter boats have a very strict Preventive Maintenance Schedule. That also affects the Sailing School because we teach on our charter boats. For brokerage, we require all boats listed be pre-surveyed and deficiencies repaired so you can buy with confidence.
Frankly, we worried about that a bit. But it has worked for us. We still love sailing, and we take vicarious joy when others enjoy the boats and islands as much as we do. But I have to admit we still feel the pressure during the season. If anything goes wrong on one of our boats, or during a class, or with a sale, it upsets us. We try hard to make every experience as perfect as possible, but we don't always succeed. That's the hardest part of the business…and when, on thankfully rare occasion, it has its "non enjoyable hobby" moments.
We're just off I-5 between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Lots of air connections into Bellingham International (10 minutes away) which is small enough to be enjoyable but just large enough to access multiple flights. There is daily Amtrak service, multiple rental car agencies and airporters to/from SeaTac and Vancouver, BC. Go here for details.
Wow! What a question! For one thing, the San Juans are the number one charter destination in the continental US. And, because of the variety of conditions here—tides, currents, wind variety—they are an ideal classroom. And, coupled with the magnificent wildlife, from orca whales to bald eagles, the islands are simply spectacular, with hundreds of anchorages, coves, scenic wonders and lively community centers.
Our modern marina is the second largest in the state. More importantly, we are directly east of the San Juans (nearest anchorage 7NM) and the closest US charter departure point to the Canadian Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound and the Broughton Islands.
April through mid-October. It peaks from mid-July to the end of September, with a slight dip the last week of August. Most people don't know this, but our summers are generally dry, with 7-10 days of rain scattered throughout the summer months (winter is cloudy and rainy).
Shhhh! Our personal favorite times are May and June. The days are long (sunset as late as 9:30pm), fewer boats in the coves and the islands are fresh, green and sparkling. Plus, charter rates are lower, and for students, more of the summer is left to cement their boating skills.
It is free, with 24 hour surveillance (though this is a low crime area). Sorry, RVs need to park off-site.
Average, about 10 years. Office Manager Danelle, 18 years; Broker Wes, 16 years; Bookkeeper Karen, 10 years; General Manager Rick, 12 years; Detailing Chief Susan, 12 years; Broker/Instructor/Moorage manager Tim, 9 years; School Director Jermaine, 8 years; School Manager Jeni, one year; Charter manager Jon, on and off since he was a kid; Fleet Manager Brian, 3 years. Even some our high school/college detailing crew has been with us as long as seven years (one came back to wash boats after he completed medical school…just for the fun of it!).