There’s a lot of excitement around the Northwest Maritime Center (NWMC) with SEVENTY48 and the Race to Alaska pending. But other big news has been the launching of the Port Townsend Maritime Academy Skills Center, and now, the announced merger with Salish Sea Expeditions…

Here’s the latest from the NWMC’s Anika Colvin:

Following a board meeting on May 20th, Bainbridge Island based educational nonprofit Salish Sea Expeditions (SSE) and the Northwest Maritime Center (NWMC) have announced their intention to merge into a single organization. Barring any unanticipated issues, the merger will become effective July 1st.

The merger was born from two successful organizations looking to increase their impact and effectiveness. “At the heart of this was a desire to reduce overhead and improve program quality and sustainability,” said SSE Board president Trina Wellman. “We were in between executive directors—a natural time to reconsider how to best deliver our programs.” For 22 years, SSE has provided inquiry-based science/sailing programs to roughly 700 students a year onboard the 61’ sailing vessel, S/V Carlyn. “We approached the Maritime Center because of their complimentary educational goals and proven ability to innovate and execute.”

The Northwest Maritime Center opened its 27,000 square foot Port Townsend campus in 2009 and is known for taking on large projects; both in education and in the maritime field in general. At 43 years old, its longest running event Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, and in recent years NWMC has gained notoriety in the maritime world for the creation of the Race to Alaska, and the offshoot SEVENTY48 human-powered race between Tacoma and Port Townsend. Beyond its signature events, NWMC has ongoing education initiatives for school aged students; the largest of which is a partnership with Port Townsend public schools to transform them into the first maritime themed school district in the nation. As a part of that initiative, this fall NWMC will be the host institution to the state’s first vessel operations skills center—an alternative high school program in which students will gain both a diploma and the skills and certifications to begin a career at sea.

“There are a lot of reasons to be beyond excited about this merger,” said NWMC Executive director, Jake Beattie. “Salish Sea Expeditions provides exceptional science education programs, and I’m excited by the synergy, and how this can help us all get more kids out there and engaged in the science of their home waters. More than ever, the ocean—and specifically the Salish Sea—is the key. Creating more connections to it is critical, and now we are part of the solution.”

Beattie elaborated that like other projects of the NWMC, Salish Sea Expeditions will remain an “independently identified, structurally integrated” part of the Maritime Center.

More information is available about their programs and the merger process on their respective websites: and