Our Vessel Na'walak

NA’WALAK IS A KWAKWAK’WAKW WORD that means “spirit of nature”. She is a comfortable 55-foot pilothouse ketch, comprehensively upgraded using the latest systems with comfort and safety in mind. She is very stable and stoutly overbuilt of fiberglass and made to offshore standards. The interior incorporates four private staterooms with berthing for six passengers and three crew. The forward stateroom is a V-berth with two single berths, which can be converted into a double. The starboard aft stateroom has a double berth, and the port aft stateroom is a single berth. There are also two mid-ship cabins each with two single bunk berths, one of which is our crew quarters. There are two heads, each with showers. The galley holds a large refrigerator/freezer, and large 4 burner stove and oven. Also, we can barbecue the catch of the day on deck when the opportunity arises! The entire boat is insulated and fitted with radiant and forced air heat for the occasional chilly morning.

JUST AFT OF THE GALLEY is the bright and roomy pilothouse/salon with comfortable seating for eight. Whether gathering for a sumptuous meal, taking a turn at the helm, or ducking in from a rain shower, the pilothouse is a great place to stay out of the weather while enjoying the wraparound view. This special feature enables us to voyage comfortably in the beautifully serene off-season while staying warm and dry.

When you prefer to be on the deck you will find several cozy places to relax. You can find your spot in the sun on the foredeck or sit comfortably in our spacious cockpit, or lounge on the aft deck.

IN KEEPING WITH Emerald Isle’s philosophy of treading as lightly as possible in these delicate environments, we have forgone a noisy diesel generator, and installed a high-output wind and solar charging system, supplying the ship with ample power for your convenience. Our dinghy is charged by this same system and propelled by a silent electric motor.

WE’RE EQUIPPED with a great sailing system. Roller furling and self-tailing winches make the Na’walak easy to sail. If you want to take a turn at the helm, we have a wheel in the cockpit as well as in the pilot house.

TO HELP YOU REST EASILY we want you to know that we care about your safety. We meet or exceed all U.S. Coast Guard safety requirements. In case we need emergency communications, we have a VHF radio as well as a cellular phone.

Emerald Isle Sailing Charters

Meet Your Captains

USCG Captain Greg Sellentin

USCG Captain Greg Sellentin

“My goal is to share with every guest my experience, passion, and gratitude for living and sailing in one of the most important and beautiful marine environments in the world.”

Growing up surrounded by water, Greg spent most of his life in, on, and around the sea. Windsurfers and Hobie catamarans were his watercraft of choice way back then.

After a short career in advertising photography in New York, he ditched the city life. Relatively unscathed and none the worse for urban wear and tear, he moved to Alaska and re-connected with nature, wilderness and a life of adventure. He spent his years as a publisher for a print and online adventure publication and sled dog tour guide, as well as expeditioning/winter camping in the interior.

Feeling the magnetic pull back to the water, he eventually led sea kayaking, rafting, sailing, photography and bear viewing tours in Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, and Kachemak Bay.

Wanting to spend more time on water unfrozen, he migrated south to the San Juan Islands and has spent the last 10 years solo sailing and exploring the flora and fauna of the Salish Sea, the Great Bear Rainforest, and Haida Gwaii islands.

USCG Captain David Lutz

USCG Captain David Lutz

David Lutz is a U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain. He brings extensive experience in sailing to Emerald Isle. He bought his first small sailboat at age 11, and has been sailing ever since in a variety of sailboats from 8 foot El Toro dinghies to an 83 foot Baltic Schooner. He is a former sailing instructor and was a commodore of Western Washington University’s successful sailing team. He has logged many hours racing and cruising the waters of the Northwest from south Puget Sound through the San Juans, and north as far as Prince William Sound, Alaska. David spent 19 years commercial fishing in Alaska — and as a commercial pilot, flew his small plane up the Inside Passage each spring to work as a fish spotter for the herring fleet. David’s love for the marine wilderness is expressed in his watercolor renderings of northwest coastal scenes. He also keeps his guitar on board for the occasional impromptu singalong. With his knowledge of the sea, and the region’s marine and terrestrial flora, fauna, and cultural history, he welcomes your questions, and will help ensure your trip is as educationally rewarding as it is safe and fun!


Gourmet Chef on board!

Guests are invariably astounded at the quality of their dining experience with us! Meals aboard the Na’walak are an expression of the philosophy of “Slow Food”. Our goal is to tantalize your senses and nourish your body with our carefully chosen recipes and fresh local ingredients. We believe each mealtime is an opportunity to pause and appreciate the flavorful pleasures of life. Our chef is prepared to offer a specialized menu for you. So that we create the flavors you especially like, please remember to fill out the food preferences section of our information request. You are welcome to bring your favorite beverages aboard. Fresh-caught salmon, ling cod, halibut, crab, prawns, and other seafood will be included in our menu when luck allows! To complement shore-side adventures, we’ll send you along with a carefully packed sack lunch. Mealtimes are a great opportunity to get together and share tales of the day’s adventures. We work hard to ensure our cuisine is as memorable as the rest of your trip!

Why choose us?

Experience The Magic Of Sailing In The San Juan Islands

Emerald Isle sails on a beautiful 55' sailing vessel with the latest upgrades for private charter safety and comfort. Our naturalist captain is U.S. Coast Guard licensed. You'll enjoy a sailing charter with a quiet charging system using wind and solar power, and the only heated pilothouse charter sailboat in the area.

Our tours are led by Emerald Isle Sailing's owner/operator experienced naturalist USCG licensed captain.


Sit back and relax while our gourmet chef prepares another sumptuous meal! Our spacious, fully equipped 55’ custom pilot house sailboat will keep you warm and dry if we encounter a rain shower. A...

Sit back and relax while our gourmet chef prepares another sumptuous meal! Our spacious, fully equipped 55’ custom pilot house sailboat will keep you warm and dry if we encounter a rain shower. After a day on the water or exploring the rainforest ashore, retire to one of 5 private staterooms with fresh linens, towels, and toiletries included. A luxury sailing package!


Feel yourself slipping into a deeper connection with nature as we sail to remote coves, harbors, and anchorages. The stresses of land-based life will quickly melt away. Read a book in the protected...

Feel yourself slipping into a deeper connection with nature as we sail to remote coves, harbors, and anchorages. The stresses of land-based life will quickly melt away. Read a book in the protected cockpit, or take the helm and feel the silent energy of the wind move the boat through tranquil waters.


On our 5, and 6-day tours, we venture farther north to where civilization fades astern. Bigger waters, bigger wildlife, and bigger adventures await - all from the comfort and safety of our USCG-documented vessel.

On our 5, and 6-day tours, we venture farther north to where civilization fades astern. Bigger waters, bigger wildlife, and bigger adventures await - all from the comfort and safety of our USCG-documented vessel.


Sail away with us in the San Juan Islands, Washinton!

Emerald Isle Sailing Charters is located on Orcas Island in Washington State's San Juan Islands, an archipelago in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Its remoteness and natural beauty make it a popular destination for tourists who want to experience marine wildlife and explore the islands' rich history.

Here are few facts about the area:

  • Summers have mild weather and very little rain, making them the perfect time to visit.
  • The San Juan Islands have a variety of hiking trails that offer stunning views of the islands and surrounding waterways.
  • The San Juan Islands are one of the best places in the world to see Orca (killer) whales in their natural habitat.

Frequently asked questions

Most frequent questions and answers

The coastlines we sail are rich with life. Depending on the time of year, sea mammals you might see include Orca, Humpback and Minke Whales, Harbor Porpoise, Dahl’s Porpoise, White-sided Dolphins, Sea Otters, River Otters, Harbor Seals, and Sea Lions.

On land you have the opportunity to see Minks, Otters, Black-tailed Deer, Raccoons, and imported exotic wildlife. As we journey northward it becomes increasingly likely to find coastal Wolves, Mountain Goats, Black Bears, Grizzlies, and the White Kermode, or “Spirit” Bear.

There are too many feathered friends to list. The Bald Eagle is a daily visitor. Other favorites of ours include Oyster Catchers, Marbled Murrelettes, Scoters, and Great Blue Herons. For a truly world class natural experience the old-growth forests of northern B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest house an especially rich and diverse community of creatures. Our unobtrusive electric powered dingy allows us the unique advantage of near silence while viewing and photographing wildlife.

It’s best to be prepared for a temperature range of 55° to 80° F. When sailing, even on a warm summer day, the breeze experienced on deck when heading up wind can elicit the need for cozier clothing. The best dress for sailing is layers. For northern tours, close to the skin, wear a moisture wicking layer, then an insulative layer (fleece, wool...), and an outer wind/water resistant layer. Waterproof shoes or rubber boots are an advantage on deck and for getting to and exploring shorelines and estuaries. Shorts and a bathing suit are great for a summer swim or hot spring soak. For life below decks bring casual and comfortable clothing. Don’t forget your favorite pair of slippers! We’ll send you a detailed list of what to bring when you submit your reservation.

The San Juan and Gulf Islands are known for their sunny summer days. We receive about half the rain of Seattle due to the rainshadow of the Olympics and Vancouver Island mountain ranges. Temperatures range from 55°-80° F in the spring, summer, and fall, and average 40°-50° F in the winter months. The Great Bear Rainforest of northern B.C. produces more variable weather. It’s not called a rain forest for nothing! Temperatures are usually in the 60s throughout our sailing season there. You will likely encounter a mix of sunshine with occasional rain during your trip, but you will stay warm and dry in our roomy pilothouse.

It depends on what you are looking for. April and May display an incredible abundance of spring flowers. Some areas are particularly spectacular with color at this time. The sunniest and warmest months of the year are July, August, and September. This is the best time of year to see the Great Bear Rainforest. October through mid-June offers the best sailing wind and the most quiet privacy in anchorages. We have had incredible trips in January! With our heating systems and all-weather pilothouse this time of year can be a magically peaceful and comfortable experience.

Nearly all of the waters we sail in are well protected. Most people who are concerned about seasickness are pleasantly surprised that its not an issue for them on our trips. However, some of our trips involve making brief passages that can occasionally get rough enough to elicit this unfortunate gastronomic state. We recommend you speak with your doctor or pharmacist regarding appropriate motion sickness medication. In our experience for mild queasiness, the acupressure wrist bands, ginger tea or crystallized ginger (which we have on board), and staying above decks can be of great help. The good news is that after we’ve finished a rough passage, the seasickness disappears!

Absolutely! We love having children on board. It can be a hugely educational experience for them. There are many activities to keep them occupied, and enough new and exiting experiences to keep them talking about their trip for a long time. We do, however, prefer that if your child is younger that 10 that the guest list is filled by your party alone.

It’s a cruise that includes a captain and crew/chef who take care of all shipboard duties including safe navigation, local knowledge of choice attractions, and meals and cleaning. You can do as much or as little as you like. We are at your service!

No. The level of activity varies depending on the trip. However, anyone who can get in and out of the dingy and go for short walks will do fine. We have had mobility-impaired guests having wonderful cruises with us without ever leaving the boat! There are many beautiful things to see right from the cabin and deck!

All onboard meals, including select wines with most dinners. On some trips you will cover one dinner ashore. Your heated cabin includes a bed made with sheets, pillows, comforters, and blankets. Towels, cloths, shampoo, and soap are also complimentary. You are welcome to use the inflatable, kayak, and all fishing, crabbing, and shrimping gear. If you prefer to overnight at a place with moorage fees, you are responsible for them, as well as any fishing licenses, and most off boat tours.

Rainforest we typically take the dinghy up a pristine river and go for a short walk, or explore a remote beach, or abandoned native village. In the San Juans and Gulf Islands many forest trails, beaches, and country roads await the happy wanderer.

Opportunities for education abound. Your skipper is a trained naturalist, and enjoys pointing out a special plant, and its traditional uses, or identifying an animal and explaining its habits. Local history and native culture are other subjects you'll learn about. The captain also enjoys teaching sailing to anyone interested. Our trips in the Great Bear and the Inside Passage incorporate Native guides who will lead you through abandoned village sites, and enthrall with tales of battles, ancient customs, and the history of the once mighty Kwakwak’wakw. Or take part in a traditional open fire salmon bake and learn of the rich past of the Heiltsuk. The boat makes a great platform for seminars and workshops. We also offer instructor-led cruises in subjects such as meditation, photography, and whale observation. Please see charter options. If you are an instructor interested in leading an art cruise feel free to contact us.

Our scheduled tours focus in the San Juans April through July, with one trip up the Inside Passage/Southern Great Bear Rainforest in early August, mid August to mid September in the Northern Great Bear Rainforest of the northern B.C. coast, and one trip down the Inside Passage/Southern Great Bear Rainforest in mid September. Please see our schedule. Any time you don’t see a scheduled trip booked the boat is open and available, so don’t hesitate to inquire.

All of our rooms are double occupancy (View ship schematic), and allow for a maximum of six guests. If you prefer a private stateroom we will try to accommodate you. There will be an additional 50% fee if the tour is otherwise full.

By Coast Guard regulation, we can take up to six guests. On our instructional cruises, and with workshops and seminars, we can bring an instructor in addition to the six guests.

No. The captain and crew are perfectly capable of taking care of all sailing. However, you are welcome to participate at any time for your own enjoyment. The captain is a lifetime sailor, and would love to help you with your sailing skills. By the end of the trip you may just be ready for the America’s Cup!

Book Your Next Sailing Adventure With Us.

Our sailing tours are the perfect way to explore the beautiful San Juan Islands and learn about their history and culture.
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