• Cabin 1 has a double bed with a single bunk above, and a private bathroom.

  • Cabin 2 aboard Pacific Catalyst features a double bunk and a shared bathroom.

  • Cabin 3 features a double bunk and a share bathroom.

  • Cabin 4 is a single cabin with a shared bathroom.

  • Cabin 5 aboard Pacific Catalyst is a family cabin sleeping up to four people.

  • Porthole views from bed in Cabin 5. This cabin has a shared bathroom.

  • Cabin 6 has a double bunk and a private bathroom.

  • Captain Bill Bailey and his wife, Shannon, (right) are owner-operators of the Pacific Catalyst.

  • Pacific Catalyst carries six double sea kayaks and three single sea kayaks.

  • A fresh Alaska dinner aboard Pacific Catalyst

  • Food aboard Pacific Catalyst is purchased from local Alaskan or San Juan farmers and fisherman.

  • The galley aboard Pacific Catalyst

  • The salon aboard Pacific Catalyst

  • Card-playing is a popular pastime aboard the Pacific Catalyst.

  • Pacific Catalyst is famed for its original 1932 Washington Diesel engine.

  • Captain Bill at the Pacific Catalyst helm.

  • The meticulously maintained Pacific Catalyst deck

  • Up-close glacier exploration aboard Pacific Catalyst

  • Pacific Catalyst's stern

Pacific Catalyst II

12 guests
Year Built: 1932
Refurbished: 2005
4-5 crew members
Length: 75 feet
Beam: 18 feet
Draft: 9 feet
Cruising Speed: 8 knots
Flag: United States

Pacific Catalyst II is a historic 12-guest yacht with a warm wood interior that takes guests back to a time when crafstmanship was the rule, not the exception. She has decades-old varnished wood paneling, heavy beamed ceilings and glowing mahogany trim and furnature. The slow pulse of her original 1932 Washington Diesel engine, the only one like it in the world, makes Catalyst a living creature, with a strong iron heart. The pace of a Catalyst cruise is relaxed and unhurried, but the original excitement of exploration and discovery remains on board. Catalyst’s welcoming and nurturing spirit continues to bless and inspire those who find sanctuary aboard her as a lifetime of memories are created.   

Pacific Catalyst II Review

In this detailed review of the Pacific Catalyst II, find the complete small ship description with deck plans and a photo gallery. After reading through our Pacific Catalyst review below, contact our Alaska cruise experts for more information and to compare this ship with other Alaskan small ships and yachts.

Pacific Catalyst II's storied history is part of what makes this ship and its itineraries so appealing. She was the University of Washington's first oceanographic research vessel. In 1932 Thomas G. Thompson began a personal crusade to establish a school of oceanography at the university. With the help of a $60,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, he started both the school and the construction of Catalyst. The Catalyst launched as the most state-of-the-art research vessel of her time. She was completed in June of 1932 and took her maiden cruise through the Inside Passage and across the Gulf of Alaska. During WWII the Navy conscripted the vessel, mounted a machine gun on top of her pilot house and racks of depth charges on her stern. She spent the war years patrolling the Aleutian Islands for Japanese submarines.  

The Pacific Catalyst was built to last, constructed of white oak, Alaskan yellow cedar, Douglas fir, teak and Australian ironwood. After the war, the Catalyst was handsomely refit. Over the next forty years, she was used for everything from delivering mail to mining supplies, to being used as a floating dentist's office. As a floating marine laboratory, she won national acclaim: more importantly, she touched the lives of all who knew her and continues to do so today.

The historic wooden vessel has been thoughtfully restored, true to her 1930s heritage. Renovations for 2013 included: rebuilt bulwarks on the starboard and stern; a rebuilt stern; Port Oxford cedar beams to strengthen her frame; a Cabin 5 redesign; and a "stern lift" to put the steering gear below decks and arrange a more comfortable sitting area on the back deck. With her new stern lift, she will be able to go for another 50 years! 

Choose a cruise aboard the Pacific Catalyst if your are seeking a boat and crew with lots of character. Her experienced Alaskan crew and thoughtful itineraries make the Pacific Catalyst a truly authentic nature cruise.

Meals Aboard Pacific Catalyst II

Food is a sacred thing aboard the Catalyst. The philosophy aboard is that food aids and abets the spirit of community on the vessel, nourishing guest (and crew) along with the beauty of the scenery, the activities of the day and the pleasure of each others’ company and life stories.

Food is prepared from fresh, natural ingredients, including produce that is purchased from local Alaskan or San Juan farmers and fisherman. The chef uses as little processed foods and as many organic ingredients as possible. They offer wines and coffee that have been purchased on San Juan Island, therefore local Washington wines, and fair-trade, shade-grown coffee beans that have been roasted locally, though purchased from small co-ops around the world. In this way the Catalyst supports local communities, embracing the idea of eating locally and using green practices, whenever possible.

Activities Aboard Pacific Catalyst II

The Pacific Catalyst is a perfect base camp for exploration, and daily off-vessel activities are offered. Six double sea kayaks and three single sea kayaks are enough for the entire complement of passengers. The Catalyst carries a 12-foot aluminum skiff and a 17.5-foot inflatable utility boat to explore up close and ferry guests ashore. The Pacific Catalyst also holds permits to visit Pack Creek Recreation Area on Admiralty Island for 12 guests to view brown bears. 

Common Areas & Cabins Aboard Pacific Catalyst II

Pacific Catalyst's classic accommodations include cozy private staterooms, a spacious galley and a warm wood-paneled salon. Four cabins have shared bathrooms, while two cabins (#1 and #6) have private bathrooms. All cabins have portholes except cabin #6, which has a window. 

Cabin 1

Upper deck, 10'6" x 6'2"; Double Bunk, 49" x 6'2", Single Bunk above, 32" x 6'2"; chest of drawers, bookshelf, private door to deck, opening porthole; private bathroom with shower

Cabin 2

Lower deck, forward starboard side, 6'10" x 7'0"; Double Bunk, 50" x 6'7"; 4 drawers under bed, hanging closet, storage closet, bookshelf, two non-opening portholes; shared bathroom and shower

Cabin 3

Lower deck, forward port side, 6'10" x 6'6"; Double Bunk, 50" x 6'6"; 2 drawers, storage locker, two non-opening portholes; shared bathroom and shower

Cabin 4 - Single

Lower deck, aft starboard side, 6'0" x 7'0" less 4' x 2'6" companionway; single bunk, 43" x 7'0"; storage under gear hammock, one non-opening porthole; shared bathroom and shower

Cabin 5 - Family

Family sleeps up to 4 people; Lower deck, Aft cabin, 13'0" x 13'0"; Two single bunks 36" x 6'5," One double bunk 50" x 78"; two bench seats with storage underneath, six opening portholes, four non-opening portholes; shared bathroom and shower

Cabin 6

Behind pilot house; Double Bunk: 50" x 78"; private entry from outside of pilot house, drawers and storage space, bookshelf, opening porthole and windows; private bathroom and shower

Pacific Catalyst II Deck Plan

Pacific Catalyst II Deck Plan