Pacific Catalyst II

Pacific Catalyst II, Inc. offers one of the most authentic, intimate cruise experiences available in Alaska, Baja and the Pacific Northwest. Their small crew and guest count, cuisine, plus two wooden slow boats and their storied histories are all part of the appeal.

Pacific Catalyst II History

Captain Bill has had a lifelong passion for old boats. Over the years he has lived in, worked on and restored countless wooden boats, each with her own unique story and history. In the 1980s Bill moved to the Pacific Northwest where he worked as a commercial fisherman and in this capacity he was introduced to the wonders of Alaska. In 2005, he purchased a history research vessel, the Catalyst and began operating small ship cruises in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and Alaska.

About this time AdventureSmith Explorations’ founder, Todd Smith, was seeking a more authentic and active cruise option in Alaska. Todd visited the Pacific Catalyst team in Friday Harbor, Washington, and a great partnership was born. Since then, AdventureSmith has confidently introduced travelers to the Catalyst and the personal feel, hospitality and authentic experience offered always delights them.

Pacific Catalyst II Fleet

Aboard the one-of-a-kind 11-guest Catalyst and 8-guest Westward, Pacific Catalyst II provides the perfect conveyance for a return to the age of authentic exploration. The pair are considered slow boats, cruising around 8 knots, but the pace is a welcomed feature, not a liability. And we believe there can be an advantage to slowing down and exploring a region like Alaska and Baja more deeply.

The Catalyst’s warm interior, with its decades old varnished wood paneling, takes guests back to a time when craftsmanship was the rule rather than the exception. The slow pulse of an original 1932 Washington Diesel engine, the only one like it in the world, makes the Catalyst a living creature, with a strong iron heart. Large battery banks allow her to go for 12 hours without starting an engine to disrupt the quiet solitude that is at the core of a Catalyst trip. Catalyst won national acclaim as the University of Washington’s first oceanographic research vessel where she served scientists and students for many years. She spent World War II patrolling the Aleutian Islands for Japanese submarines, and was then was used for everything from delivering mail to a floating dentist’s office. Read our dedicated Catalyst Ship Review, written by our founder and president Todd Smith who sailed aboard the ship in Alaska.

In 2012 Pacific Catalyst II bought “Arguably Seattle’s most famous motor yacht” – the Westward. But the Westward isn’t just a ship; she’s a living piece of history, registered with the US National Register of Historic places. She remains dependably powered by her original 1924 Atlas Imperial Diesel Engine, has circumnavigated the globe, served her country during World War II and played host to a list of luminaries from Walt Disney to Bing Crosby. The Westward celebrated reaching her century mark in 2024, and has seen her share of restoration efforts and enhancements at the loving hands of Bill Bailey and Pacific Catalyst II. Her original charm and craftsmanship are not just preserved but celebrated in today’s cruising experience and her adventurous spirit continues to enrich the voyages of those who are lucky enough to cruise the waters of Alaska and Baja California with her.

Pacific Catalyst II Cruises

Pacific Catalyst II cruises offer guests a uniquely authentic experience that will provide a lifetime of memories. Itineraries are carefully crafted to showcase the very best of Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. The hand-picked crew love being able to introduce guests to places they have discovered over years of exploration.


Food is a sacred thing aboard the Catalyst and Westward. The crew believes that food aids and abets the spirit of community on their vessel. Meals are prepared from fresh, natural ingredients, including produce that is purchased from local Alaskan or San Juan farmers and fisherman. They use as few processed foods and as many local and organic ingredients as possible, and aboard Westward, pull from its very own rooftop garden.


The crew aboard both small ships is an extended family, and many have returned for years in a labor of love to enjoy time aboard this special vessel. The typical crew aboard the Westward will include a captain, chef and guide and the Catalyst carries a captain, chef, guide and engineer. A company and vessels with as much history and character as the Catalyst and Westward, attracts a special kind of group. Our guests consistently comment that getting to know the crew, with their lifetime of stories and experience is a highlight of their trip.

Why Choose Pacific Catalyst II

Choose Pacific Catalyst II to support a captain-operated company and true Pacific Northwest locals. Imagine sitting in the saloon or at the dining table with only 7 to 10 others, fire crackling in the living room fireplace and listening to stories from the ship captain and crew. The intimacy of Pacific Catalyst II cruises makes this small Alaskan cruise line ideal for friendly travelers looking for authenticity and connection and are AdventureSmith favorites for Alaska yacht charters and private charter cruises everywhere they sail.

Pacific Catalyst II & AdventureSmith

The Westward and Catalyst are intimate, boutique ships that may not make the radar of most travelers. AdventureSmith is thrilled to invite guests to slow down and experience the pulse and rhythms of tides, wildlife, nature and solitude aboard two historic ships that have been cruising for nearly a century.

Read our Expert Reviews from time spent aboard the Catalyst (Inside Passage Catalyst Plus Denali and Journey to Alaska’s Inside Passage) and the Westward (Voyages in Sea of Cortez). Plus, a firsthand account and review of Pacific Catalyst II age old style of Slow Cruising in Alaska.

Footage captured by Todd Smith while cruising aboard Catalyst in Alaska.
Read more about this wild encounter.
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