San Juan Cruise & Learn

Go cruising in the San Juan Islands and earn certifications with seasoned skippers Capt. John and Kathleen Salinas on Alethea, a Pearson 43′.

A Great sailing opportunity for people looking to cruise the San Juans while learning skills and gaining certifications: relax and book a berth on a captained charter, gain NauticEd certifications, and explore and discover a world-class sailing destination!


  • In Person and Online
  • Optional NauticEd Training, Certification & Membership
  • Prices start at $350, and choose from a variety of options to best fit your trip! Prices & Registration
  • Scheduling: spots open from June through September (booking quickly, so give us a call)
  • island sailing cruising san juans

Discover a Sailing Paradise in the Northwest!

The San Juans – with hundreds of islands, countless protected anchorages, quaint marina towns and exciting wildlife, the San Juan Islands and Canadian Gulf Islands offer an unforgettable sailing experience.

Departing from Friday Harbor, explore the San Juans with Capt. John and Kathleen Salinas aboard their 43ft Pearson, Alethea.  This is a unique sailing opportunity to sail, cruise and learn:

  • Explore the San Juans with experienced sailors
  • Earn NauticEd certifications (optional)
  • Gain confidence while cruising, including refreshing bareboat skills
  • Or, simply enjoy the sailing.

Your skippers, John and Kathleen Salinas are advanced NauticEd and ASA Instructors. John has a Coast Guard 50-ton captain’s license with sail endorsement. He is an active member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary with specialties in navigation, seamanship, communication and weather, amongst others. You can be sure you are in capable and experienced hands when sailing with John and Kathleen.


Cruising Salish Sea old Orca whale

With literally hundreds of marinas, islands and bays to explore, the itinerary is infinitely amendable. The Salinas’ work with the guests to plan an itinerary that best fits everyone’s expectations.  And, cruising is incomplete without time for relaxation and exploration: hiking, biking, wildlife viewing and kayaking….

Some favorite spots include:

  • The artistic village of Ganges on Saltspring Island
  • Beachcombing along the sandy stretch at Spencer Spit
  • Whale watching along the southwest side of San Juan Island
  • Hiking to Turn Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island
  • Spending a cozy evening watching the sun set at tranquil Otter Bay

And, a few points of interest that might be mentioned here include visiting our home port of Friday Harbor, Rosario, Deer Harbor, Mackaye Harbor, Roche Harbor, Stewart Island, and so many more that cannot be mentioned in this space.

Read a past letter to prior sailors for more information: read more

Welcome and Introduction

You have made plans to sail aboard Alethea, a 43-foot Pearson sloop built in 1968. Alethea is a wonderful sailing vessel with entirely new sails, rigging, engine and many of the amenities that make being out on the water comfortable. Capt. John is a long time sailor with years of experience in the San Juan/Gulf Island area (The Salish Sea). He is a member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and has introduced many new sailors to the sport. As you organize yourself to join the crew on San Juan Island, there are several thoughts that will help you have a most favorable experience.

Packing for your cruise

Most important here is the fact that you have a berth, a bunk, on Alethea. It is all yours and everything you bring must always be there. At night while you are in your bunk some things might find their way onto the floor, but during the day, the floors are clear and your possessions are back on your bunk. For this reason, a duffle bag is the best choice for toting you things aboard. It folds up and disappears when it is not needed. All bedding is provided aboard, so no need to bring sleeping bags, unless you wish. We will be cruising for several days, so all your toiletries and medications must be with you for those days. Some odd items you might not consider include you own life jacket (we have them aboard too), binoculars, swim suit, camera (not too odd), and clothes for hot, rain, and cold weather. One stop at the store and we will be basically in the wilderness, what we bring is all that will be available.


Alethea is berthed in Shipyard Cove Marina, one mile south of the Port of Friday Harbor, where the Anacortes ferry docks ( ). Your planning must include getting to Friday Harbor. You will not need to drive onto the ferry. Driving will involve waiting in line, about $60, and the chance that you will miss the ferry you wish to take because it is full. Walking aboard is $12, there is no wait, and you will not be refused. There are several ways to get to the Anacortes ferry terminal going to the San Juan Islands and Friday Harbor, you can drive there and park in one of several lots ($5 to $10 / day) or you can take the Skagit Transit bus ( ) from many places in Burlington or Mount Vernon ($1). Did you know that Amtrak can deliver you to Mount Vernon ( )? You will have to check the schedule for those trains and buses. The three schedule pieces to put together are, the train from where you can board to Mount Vernon, the bus from Mount Vernon to the ferry terminal in Anacortes, and the ferry to Friday Harbor. We will take care of you from Friday Harbor. Same for on the way home on Monday night, or better, Tuesday morning. You are welcome to stay aboard on Monday night.

Once again, we will escort you from the ferry terminal to Shipyard Cove. Once aboard Alethea, we will plan the details of our cruise, including provisioning, instruction (NauticEd classes), certification, and the cruise itself. We will not get into those details presently, but you will be asked about foods you would enjoy while aboard and places you might like to visit in the San Juan Islands. If everyone has a US passport, ports in the Gulf Islands could be included as possible cruise destinations.

Preparations for classes

There are two major parts for most Sailing classes, basic knowledge and sailing skills. The basic knowledge section is you enjoying the online preparation and testing for that class. If you spend time studying the materials and getting the details of your chosen class understood, you can jump start your time aboard Alethea. I would suggest that once aboard, we discuss any details of the class you wish. There is no need to sit through instructor led presentations over the material if you have studied and have tested, unless requested. Once on the water, the sailing skills can be practiced. Your instructor will ask you to perform all of the skills listed for the class and you can work at becoming experienced in each maneuver. If you pass these two sections of the class, you will have your log book signed off. What comes next is up to you!

Cruising Actively

Before joining the cruise, relax with thoughts of what you would like to do and experience in the area. Food wise, breakfasts could be quick and simple or relaxing watching the day begin. Lunches will quite possibly be quick and simple if we are underway motoring (we hope not) or sailing and working to help Alethea prove her worth. Dinners can again be simple affairs while exploring islands or relaxing aboard while anchored, watching a sunset over the water.   So, join the crew with suggestions for what you would like to experience in food and discovery, for the days we are together. Actively cruising also means come aboard with suggestions of places you would like to visit. Places you have heard about, read about, or just want to know if there is an anchorage in that area. Here is a site to start with, We will sit down with a map and plan our anchorages before we leave. You will be an important part of our cruise planning. We will work with the tides, currents, and weather to plan a safe and enjoyable cruise.

I look forward to being with you during this exciting time in your sailing journey,

I wish you safe travel and welcome aboard,

Capt. John Salinas

S/V Alethea

S/V Alethea

A classic Pearson sloop (sailboat) that's built for comfort, speed and [overbuilt] for safety. Alethea is 43 feet long and has room enough for a V-berth, saloon berths, and an aft cabin. She can easily sleep three couples or four guests.learn more

Alethea, Pearson 43 from Friday Harbor She has a new mainsail, genoa, a 100% jib and a beautiful blue and yellow spinnaker. Creature comforts include a three burner stovetop and oven, electronic toilet and shower provide comfort on the water. Alethea has been fitted out with the latest electronic navigation and communication gear including VHS radio, radar, AIS, fathometer/water temperature, GPS with chart plotting, and high frequency SSB radio. She has a 49 HP Kabota diesel engine and a 40 gallon fuel tank.

She has been a very dependable vessel for over four decades.

Meet John and Kathleen

Sailing has been a part of John and Kathleen’s life for decades. They began sailing a Catalina 15-foot skiff and quickly graduated to a Catalina 22-foot keel boat. From the beginning, they worked with the American Sailing Association to sharpen their sailing skills and became instructors. Today they instruct NauticEd classes.learn more

Captain John and Kathleen Salinas, ASA Sailing InstructorsJohn holds a USCG Masters 50-ton license with sail certification and is an active member of the USCG Auxiliary. His specialties include weather, navigation, seamanship, communication, and leadership. He enjoys the physical, mechanical, and navigational challenges in sailing. John is a physical scientist in limnology, astronomy, chemistry and physics education.

Kathleen is the consummate naturalist with special interests in geology, botany, oceanography, and marine biology. She is an educator in geology and environmental science. Kathleen enjoys cruise planning which includes provisioning, route plotting; wind, tide and current forecasting, and safety afloat. Preparing delightful meals is another of her passions.

Today they offer their Pearson 43-foot sloop, S/V Alethea, for instruction and excursions. Alethea is a wonderful sailboat, a cross between a racer and a cruiser. Plan to enjoy a bareboat class, a refresher cruise, or just a sailing excursion. Alethea’s home port is Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Under sun or stars, there are plenty of natural delights to enjoy in this spectacular sailing area. Join them this summer!

Sailing Certification

NauticEd Flagship School. The leading sailing school and sailing certification.

Certification is optionally available. For knowledge, we offer NauticEd's online courses to prepare you with the most advanced and current online sailing education available.  Start immediately, take your time with interactive content, and test online - and enjoy more fun sailing and practical instruction on your cruise!

On your cruise, you'll receive personalized practical instruction from Capt. Salinas.  By the end of the class, Capt. Salinas will verify your competency, which means the instructor is confident in your abilities to sail or crew without him at that level of certification.

Certifications available:

To Register:

John and Kathleen coordinate personalized trips based on your plans and needs, and spots are available June through September.

Need Help? Contact Island Sailing

To register, contact or (503) 285-7765 and we'll plan and personalize your trip!

Prices: the pricing is variable based on days and services so that you can arrange the perfect trip!

Captained Charter*:

  • $350.00 for the first day, $125.00 each additional day (e.g., $600 for a 3-day weekend, $1,100 for 7 days).
  • Spouses / family members can join for $288 for the first day, $94 each additional day

NauticEd Instruction & Certification (optional and in addition to the above):

Class Booking Conditions (Deposits, Refunds and Cancellations) are detailed HERE.

*NOTE: Washington State taxes may apply, a $25 reservation fee may be applied to credit card purchases.

Guaranteed Practical Competency

Simply, you're paying us to learn to sail at a certain level (not for a certain number of hours).learn more

We guarantee that in practical courses your instructor will verify your practical competency.  By this we mean that Island Sailing management cannot override instructor decisions; and towards the end of the practical course your instructor will decide whether you're sufficiently trained (or not).  Sometimes the instructor may want to reschedule if the weather's uncooperative, or they may feel a particular student may need additional instruction or mentoring on certain topics.  If the instructor feels as you're not trainable as a competent sailor (which has never happened in our 35+ years), then we'll refund the practical portion of your class.

And, if you're not satisfied with your instructor, then you can retake the course at no additional charge.

island sailing contact informationContact us at (503) 285-7765 or to sign-up, and we'll certainly answer any questions you may have.