Flotilla Testimonials

Free Solo with brown bear on shore in Ford’s Terror

I am very fortunate to have been able to enjoy six trips to Alaska via the Inside Passage, five of which were as part of Slowboat flotillas. After my initial solo trip in 2017, I realized that cruising as part of a group with experienced guides would be a much safer and more enjoyable way to undertake such an epic trip. My first Slowboat flotilla in 2018 exceeded my expectations in every respect. It is hard to believe I have now participated in five Alaska flotillas and one circumnavigation trip around Vancouver Island, all with Slowboat. Each trip has been an absolute blast!

Laura Domela and Kevin Morris are truly the best professional guides one could possibly hope to meet. Their seasoned knowledge of where to go and what to see in B.C. and Alaska has provided me with a broad array of spectacular cruising experiences! From calving glaciers to orca pods to unlimited bears to bubble-net feeding humpbacks, my most treasured cruising memories have been with Slowboat. Furthermore, even the most well maintained trawlers experience issues. Slowboat provides invaluable support with troubleshooting and resolving any issue that might arise to each flotilla participant! They always have smiles on their faces and are truly wonderful people.

For those making their first trip to Alaska through the Inside Passage, cruising as part of a Slowboat flotilla can take the uncertainty and stress out of what will otherwise be an unbelievably rewarding experience! For Alaska cruising veterans, Slowboat provides a tremendous opportunity to advance and refine critical cruising skills! To anyone considering cruising to Alaska, I would say this: do not miss the opportunity to be part of the Slowboat experience!

Ralph Tuliano, Nordic Tug 39 Free Solo
Flotilla to Alaska 2023, 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018
Flotilla West Side of Vancouver Island 2018

Seabear at anchor with beautiful sunrise sky

For several years, we had been eyeing and considering participation in Slowboat flotillas. We faithfully followed the Slowboat blog posts and marveled at the adventuresome participants. When we saw the announcement of the 2023 flotilla, we realized that it was now or never for us, and we’re very pleased that we stopped lurking and signed up. It was a wonderful experience throughout. Kevin and Laura proved to be knowledgeable and thoughtful guides. They are both experts in navigation, weather routing, and boat repair and maintenance. Not to forget, great cooks and hosts.

Frankly speaking, the cost was a sizable chunk of change. That said, for us, it was money well spent. Each evening, we received a detailed plan of the next day’s route. Daily, we received weather briefings with explanations from each of the various sources utilized, and we were given explanations of h

ow to choose weather data and recognize weather trends. We never had a scary or even uncomfortable day on the water and only one blustery night (which we slept through!).

The nature and wildlife viewing was simply marvelous and spectacular, and as Laura had told us would happen, it became more grand each day. Breaching and bubble feeding whales, orcas on the hunt, sea lions, Dall’s porpoises playing in our bow wake, eagles and osprey, water birds aplenty, sea otters with their young; the flotilla provided a variety of wildlife viewing that is not possible in our local waters. And then there were the vistas of geological awesomeness. In Ford’s Terror (tricky to enter, but not terrifying) raw rock faces stretched thousands of feet above us, and everywhere countless beautiful waterfalls dropped alongside our route. The towns we visited are memorable for their residents’ hospitality and evident self reliance as well as the natural settings in which they are located.

Our participation in the 2023 flotilla was enhanced by the interesting and pleasant other flotilla members. Most evenings we would gather and share nibbles or dinner, and hearing others’ life experiences and stories made the trip better. But it was Kevin and Laura, whose experience, confidence, competence, and ability to teach made our adventure a memorable success and helped to make us more knowledgeable and better boaters.

Paul and Kim, Nordic Tug 37 Seabear
Slowboat Flotilla to Alaska 2023

Two’s Out with glacier background

In May 2023 we chose to learn all about power boating while travelling to Alaska!

Having travelled at altitude and ground level, our challenge was to travel at sea level in a new to us- Selene 45.

Signing up with a Slowboat flotilla was Step one.  A very good choice.

Laura and Kevin guided us north through narrows to bays, inlets, fijords and open ocean. We had warm to hot weather for most of the first two weeks, some rolling seas and interesting navigating.

We saw wildlife in the form of humpback whales doing aerobics and bubble net feeding. Sea otters resting on their back in the rolling seas and Dahl’s porpoise showed us that they could be faster than our boat!

The mountains, glaciers and icebergs added to the scenery which was spectacular!

All looked pristine, but the history revealed to us indicated canneries, logging camps had been there long ago.

Our guides checked weather forecasts at 4 am. Set departure times and routes and gave each boat directions for the next day.  They arranged the tides to be in our favor at the times we needed a push.

In the evenings when the flotilla all gathered at the destination we shared potluck dinners, BBQs, Happy hours with everyone contributing to the feasts.

Over time we shared stories about our lives and made connections we hope to keep.

It was a wonderful experience.

In hindsight we are more aware of what a wonderful adventure it was.

Our sincere thanks to Laura and Kevin for everything!!

Betty and Mike Sudul, Selene 45 Two’s Out
Slowboat Flotilla to Alaska 2023

Sue and I bought our HR 39 sailboat last year and made plans to take it around Vancouver Island as our shakedown. We first heard of Slowboat when some friends recommended that we check out their webinar-videos online for guidance in transiting the rapids as we moved north. It was then that we noticed the flotillas that Slowboat leads, and one being down the West Coast of Vancouver. Ah, this could be that extra bit of assurance that would be great for a long trip in a boat new to us – and indeed it was. They were happy to accommodate our slower slow boat for this particular trip. Kevin and Sam solved a sticky technical issue that we had before the flotilla even began.

But the memory that we will carry of this great trip was endless evenings of camaraderie and shared food, and laughing harder than we had in years. We will always remember the laughing. The flotilla trip gave us the opportunity to sail our own boat on an incredible route with all of the time that we wanted and needed for ourselves. And this was balanced with the opportunity to share the experience with others and draw off of a pool of expertise and experience as the trip unfolded over the days and weeks. Laura and Kevin and Sam truly enjoy leading these trips and provide the right amount of structure mixed with the freedom to let the trip unfold as it will with changing weather and differing needs and desires of those along for the ride.

We came away from the trip with friends for life, sore sides from laughing, and as better sailors.

Mike and Sue Jostrom, Hallberg-Rassi 39 Zube
Slowboat Flotilla  – West Side of Vancouver Island 2018

When we think back on our flotilla trips with the Slowboat gang, the main thing that comes to mind is their extensive knowledge (about such a variety of things!!!) and their willingness to share that knowledge in a very helpful and educational way. Tips for monitoring and evaluating the weather, reading tides and currents, out of the way cool anchorages, thoughts on how and where to drop an anchor in a challenging anchorage, route suggestions for the return trip, how to make a yummy ceviche – they covered it all!

But most importantly, when a problem arose, they were more than happy to help guide you in how to troubleshoot it (even if it meant jumping into the engine room or taking down the headliner), isolating the problem, then assisting with the fix, most often using tools, spare parts and other items already on the boat (Sam is not called “Napa Auto Parts of the Sea” for no reason!!).

And in addition to their wealth of knowledge, they are just an incredibly fun group to cruise with! We highly recommend the Slowboat flotillas!!

Dan and Eileen McCormack, Nordic Tug 37 Fortunate
Slowboat Flotilla to Alaska 2018
Waggoner Flotilla to Ketchikan 2015

We recently returned from a Slowboat flotilla down the west coast of Vancouver Island. We had a blast and only wish it lasted longer! We cannot say enough good things about our hosts – Sam, Laura and Kevin – and the skills they brought to the adventure.

We have traveled the Inside Passage as far north as Desolation Sound and Port McNeill in previous years but had never motored into the big waters just beyond.  We were fairly comfortable with our own skills and capabilities of our older Nordic Tug 32 but wanted both good company and experienced support to take on a trip like this. We got both.

Being somewhat independent, we needed more than a tour guide; we wanted to grow our own knowledge and skills in order to take on remote cruising like this by ourselves in the future. We talked about this with Sam, Laura and Kevin in our pre-cruise meeting and they came through in every way. Our daily planning meetings included not only a schedule and course for our travels but the opportunity to learn about the planning process behind them. When we wanted to know more about interpreting weather data, we were invited to spend a couple hours reviewing weather resources, apps, and best practices. It was exactly what we needed!

Let’s not forget the fun stuff: Dinghy excursions. Hikes. Hidden beaches. Drones. Photography. Potluck dinners. Radio banter. Stories (some might be true). Estevan Point. Victoria. Everything.

We signed on with hopes of increasing our competence and confidence. We wanted to see some spectacular remote places, make new friends and have a great time. Our experience with Slowboat exceeded our expectations in every way and we highly recommend them to fellow boaters.

Thanks to you all – Sam, Laura, and Kevin!

Lindsey and Doug Ford, Nordic Tug 32-159 Waterford
Slowboat Flotilla  – West Side of Vancouver Island 2018

The idea of circumnavigating Vancouver Island was very appealing, but boaters are led to believe it’s not for the “faint of heart”. However, having cruised with Sam to Alaska two years ago, we were eager to join the Slowboat flotilla this summer knowing that we were joining very competent leaders.

We really feel that joining a flotilla makes the whole experience better than going it alone for several reasons—we could discuss weather, wind, sea conditions and get a consensus on going to the next destination (or not); since we won’t be doing this trip on an annual basis like visiting the Gulf Islands, for instance, the knowledge of the leaders helps insure that we visit excellent locations, and that because of the knowledge of experienced leaders we went into fabulous harbors and inlets that we might otherwise not have attempted; we have made new boating friendships that are priceless; each evening ended with a get together for dinner, drinks, and great conversation; and we knew if we ran into any problems, Sam, Laura and Kevin would be there to lend assistance.

On a final note, we were pleased to be on a small flotilla as it allowed us to get into harbors and marinas that might otherwise not have been able to accommodate us.

Thanks Sam, Laura, and Kevin for a wonderful trip!

Jeff and Darlene Gidley, Kadey Krogen 44 Mana Kai
Slowboat Flotilla – West Side of Vancouver Island 2018

Cruising the coast of BC and SE is the trip of a lifetime. And with the Slowboat Flotilla, it was less stressful and more fun than we imagined.

Sam, Laura and Kevin made a great, knowledgeable team. And they shared their knowledge with us. They knew weather and how to pull down forecasts and condition reports; they knew all the great anchorages and marinas; they knew the best cruising routes; they knew locals along the way; they knew where to shop for food and supplies; they knew the cool hikes and boardwalk villages and hot springs; they knew good restaurants and divey pubs; they knew how to scout for bears and whales and eagles; they knew how to avoid running across commercial fishing nets; they knew how to troubleshoot mechanical problems. Through our interaction with them we feel like we really enhanced our boating skills. It has given us much more confidence on the water.

Sam, Laura and Kevin did an excellent job leading the Flotilla. And we really enjoyed getting to know them personally. They were always helpful and friendly and generous with their time. We hope to do more boating with them in the future. We highly recommend them if you want to join a flotilla to SE!

Park and Carol Cann, Nordhavn 50 Akeeva
Slowboat Flotilla to Alaska 2017

To anyone thinking of going to Alaska for the first time, in their own boat, I would highly recommend you join the next flotilla lead by Sam, Laura, and Kevin  at slowboat.com. Even with 30 years of experience boating in the Salish Sea, the idea of heading north by myself seemed daunting. When I suggested to my wife that I could invite friends to share part of the experience on a rotating schedule, and also do it with five other boats, she was all for it.

The three leaders of slowboat have a way of making the trip fun, exciting, and adventurous. Sam has a great approach to demystifying some of the bigger crossings, and focusing our itinerary to make the most of our time heading north while still allowing time for exploring our surroundings. Kevin is the technology expert and skilled crabber. We were fortunate to share his bounty on many occasions. Laura, an amazing chef, and photographer, made sure none of us lost weight on this trip. We were not expecting slowboat to treat us to so much exceptional food and drink!!!

One of my favorite aspects of traveling with this group was the exceptional photography that documented our 30 day trip to Sitka that was viewable by my family and friends as we went north. All they had to do was go to slowboat.com, and it was almost as good as being there.

So, I want to thank my three friends of slowboat, and my fellow cruisers for helping me make a lifelong dream come true. PRICELESS!

Dave Starrett, Nordic Tug 42 Orca Star
Slowboat Flotilla to Alaska 2017

Want to talk with previous flotilla participants? Just let us know, and we’ll put you in touch.