SOUND (boat-based) for Individuals

Program Overview

Salish Sound is a boat-based science and sail program This boat-based science and sail expedition is a program that engages students in oceanographic research, nautical science and seamanship aboard the 61-foot sailing research vessel, Carlyn. While on-board, students will conduct marine science research under the careful guidance of the Salish crew. The students will collect, analyze and communicate the findings of their research, and split their day learning to navigate and sail the 61-ft sailing vessel.

This expedition will give interested students the opportunity to experience the world of marine science while exploring a portion of the Puget Sound.

Program Topics

  • Introduction to the Scientific Method
  • Water Quality Analysis
  • Oceanographic Equipment & Sampling Techniques
  • Puget Sound History
  • Nautical Science & Seamanship

This program is customized into two age groups: Marine Explorers (Grades 5-8) and Marine Leaders (Grades 9-12). Programs will be offered for both age groups in the Spring and Fall as scheduling permits.

Research Equipment

Water Quality Monitoring

Students in the Salish Sea Expeditions Sound Program performing Water Quality Monitoring Measuring and monitoring water quality in the marine environment can be highly variable and dynamic based on factors influencing the environment on a seasonal and even daily basis. This science and sailing experience will create a picture of the Puget Sound environment based on the information collected with a variety of tools and equipment, similar to the tools and equipment currently used by the scientist measuring and monitoring the health of Puget Sound.

To provide a good snapshot of water quality in our research areas we deploy the following equipment:

  • Phosphate, nitrate, copper, surfactant, turbidity and silicate test kits (LaMotte): measure the amount of important water quality parameters in the water column. While necessary to aquatic life at small levels, problems can arise when these parameters reach high levels.
  • Colorimeter: used in conjunction with water quality test kits to obtain measurements from specific water samples.  Results recorded in PPM (parts per million).
  • Dissolved oxygen/Temperature probe: continuously measures dissolved oxygen/temperature throughout the water column to 50ft. These vertical transects give a good indication of biological activity.
  • Refractometer: measures salinity of a water sample using a drop of water and light refraction.
  • Niskin bottle: used to collect water samples from discrete depths, which are then chemically analyzed.
  • Secchi disk: used to estimate the transparency of seawater, and can provide a relative measure of productivity or turbidity.
  • pH probes:  measure how acidic or basic the water is on a scale from 0-14.  pH is an important water quality measurement with most organisms only tolerating a small range, typically around 6-8.5.

Biological Monitoring

Students in the Salish Sea Expeditions Sound Program performing Biological Monitoring The biological life of the Salish Sea is dependent upon local water quality.  Collection and analysis of water can help to determine relationships between water quality and the marine organisms at different locations.  Students will have the opportunity to collect phytoplankton and zooplankton to view under microscopes. With mentoring from the Salish science team, students will utilize the scientific method to show relationships between water quality and marine organisms.

Biological sampling equipment onboard includes:

  • Phytoplankton net: This 60-micrometer mesh net collects the smallest plankton, which can then be analyzed using volume measurements as well as under a compound microscope.
  • Zooplankton net: This 220-micrometer mesh net collects animal plankton, allowing phytoplankton to pass through the larger mesh.
  • Dissecting and Compound microscopes: used to more closely analyze plankton by species.
  • Seives: can be used to sort sediments collected from shore to classify sediment composition and/or to uncover macro-invertebrates.
  • Fisheye underwater camera: camera to deploy off of the side of the vessel to observe creatures when visibility allows.


Answers to the questions we encounter most frequently.

What is Salish Sea Expeditions?

Salish Sea Expeditions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to provide an opportunity for students to design and conduct real scientific research from the decks of a sailing vessel on Puget Sound.

What vessel is used?

Programs occur aboard Carlyn, a 61 yawl built in 1996, belonging to Four Winds*Westward Ho Camps. Carlyn is a US Coast Guard (USCG) inspected vessel.

How many crew members are there, and what qualifications do they have?

There are a minimum of six crew members on all programs. All have experience working with teenagers in residential settings and all have first aid training. The Captain and Mate are licensed by the USCG and have experience operating sailing school vessels. The Educators/Scientists have science degrees with experience both in the teaching and research fields. Most also have sea time experience.

What does a program involve?

While on this particular science/sail, students will be exposed to scientific principles and provided with information about Puget Sound. They will develop a suitable marine research topic and work with our staff to organize their research expedition. Students are key decision makers in every aspect of planning and conducting the program. Students will work within a rotating work structure that allows for equal sharing of all aspects of the expedition. Everyone will be expected to help hoist sails, handle lines, participate in deploying science equipment, evaluate data, plot a course, etc. The S/V Carlyn has a licensed capacity for 28 students and was initially designed as an education research vessel.

Is sea sickness a problem?

Sea sickness is generally caused by the motion of big ocean swells. Puget Sound is protected from swells by the land that surrounds it. Seasickness can often act as a self-fulfilling prophesy; if you come aboard convinced you will get seasick, then you probably will! Most often people experience seasickness when they are below decks for long periods of time. They usually feel better just by coming up on deck, getting some fresh air, and looking at the horizon. If you know that motion sickness is a problem, consult your doctor about a motion sickness product. These products tend to make you feel drowsy and usually need to be taken several hours before going out on the water. Please, only use them if you know that motion sickness is a problem! You may want to look into alternative remedies such as ginger (tea or candied) and wrist bands that work using pressure points.

Where in the Salish Sea will the program travel, and will parents be able to know the location of the program from day to day?

Programs originating from the Seattle area will primarily travel within the main basin of Puget Sound somewhere between Whidbey and Vashon Islands. Program originating from Anacortes will travel within the archipelago of the San Juan Islands. Each evening the students provide notes to the ‘Ship’s Log’ which is shared online with the parents. The Ship’s Log tells the story of the day and often includes photos.

How far will the boat travel each day?

During a 3-day program, the vessel will sail/motor for much of the day and find an anchorage during the evening. The boat usually doesn’t travel great distances during a day-sail as the students will occupy several science stations along the way in order to deploy and recover equipment. Distance is not necessarily an objective, but students will spend a considerable amount of time experiencing the marine waters. The students will surely feel the weather on their faces and the wind in their hair.

What kind of plan do you have for emergencies while students are on board?

Any vessel carrying passengers for hire must meet emergency operational standards established by the US Coast Guard (USCG). Carlyn was designed and certified under the Sailing School Ship Vessel Act. As the name implies, vessels certified under the Sailing School Vessel Act are intended to be used as education and research training vessels which can be operated by students. As such, the construction standards and operational requirements are rigorous.

Carlyn is required to have plans that meet or exceed response standards set by the USCG for any incident. The emergency response drills address major vessel incidents such as man-overboard, fire, collision, and abandon ship. Each Captain is required by law to thoroughly train and drill their crew, and is tested by the USCG in the approved procedures. When you board the vessel, the Captain will personally discuss with the group what to do in the event of an emergency. An emergency drill will be part of your program. Carlyn is also required to carry emergency supplies and equipment including radios, flares, first aid kits, life raft, life sling and jackets. We have established safety procedures for every activity the students participate in, both aboard the ship and while ashore. Students are informed of the procedures before engaging in the activity. Students who cannot follow the procedures do not participate.

Do students wear personal flotation devices-pfd’s (lifejackets)?

Yes. Any time they are working on deck while the boat is underway or in the small boats (day trips don’t typically use small boats) they will be required to wear Type III PFD’s (like kayakers wear). In addition, we will carry the Type I PFD’s (highest USCG buoyancy rating) for each person on board.

Could a parent contact their child if there were an emergency at home?

Absolutely. There will be pre-trip information circulated to parents/guardians which will have any appropriate emergency contact numbers.

What are your payment policies?

The fee for the Sound Individual Program is $280.

There is an online link “Reserve Now” for requesting a spot in the program. Once your reservation is processed you will be provided with a secure online payment link. We request that a deposit of $140 is made once the reservation is processed in order to ensure your enrollment.

In the comment field of that webpage, please indicate the payment is for the Sound Individual Open Enrollment. You will receive an automatic email confirmation of any payment.

What do students need that is not covered in the program fee?

Students will need to bring appropriate clothing (please see “What to Bring” list) packed in a duffel, gym bag, or backpack.

How much insurance coverage do you have?

Participants are covered by a $1,000,000 liability policy.

If you have questions at any time, please contact our Education Director at (206) 780-7848 or email


Welcome, teachers and group leaders! We’re glad that you’re interested in a Salish Sea Expeditions experience and we’re here to guide you through the process. Here you will find information and paperwork required for the program.

Step 1: Fill out and return the following appropriate forms.

  • Student Hold Harmless (PDF) – This is a release form which must be completed for each student to describe any food restrictions, allergies, and medical information, and to be returned to Salish office 2 weeks prior to trip.
  • Parent/Teacher Chaperone Hold Harmless (PDF) – This is a release form which must be completed for any chaperone to describe any food restrictions, allergies, and medical information, and to be returned to Salish office 2 weeks prior to trip.

Step 2: Prepare your students and their families for the trip.

  • Homework Packet (PDF) – This is an information booklet that students should review prior to the expedition to further their knowledge and understanding of Puget Sound.
  • Onboard Chaperone Roles (PDF) – This is a detailed explanation of chaperone roles and responsibilities.
  • What to bring on Carlyn (PDF) – This is a detailed list of gear to bring on a Salish expedition.

Additional Information

Driving Directions

Elliott Bay Marina (Seattle)

Cap Sante Boat Haven (Anacortes)

Foss Waterway Seaport (Tacoma)

Bell Harbor (Seattle)

If you have questions at any time, please contact our Education Director at (206) 780-7848 or at

Program Details


Dates: 6-8 April
Cost: $280
Scholarships are available. Please contact our office for more details.
Class Size: minimum 12 students and maximum of 24 students
Grade Levels: 5th – 8th grade
Location: This sail program departs and returns to Seattle.

Photo Gallery