Puget Sound Express’s most recent addition of the whale watching vessel – the M.V. Swiftsure – to its Edmond’s location has allowed them to bring the M.V. Saratoga to Port …
Puget Sound Express’s most recent addition of the whale watching vessel – the M.V. Swiftsure – to its Edmonds location has allowed them to bring the M.V. Saratoga to Port Townsend.
The Saratoga was originally launched by the Hanke family-owned company in spring 2018. On its keel are the signatures of all the Hanke family men, including Lewis Peter Hanke, who has since passed.
The high-speed aluminum catamaran vessel was designed by Nic De Waal of Teknicraft Design in Auckland, New Zealand and built by All American Marine in Bellingham. The Hanke’s modeled their newest boat around the Saratoga because they have been so impressed with its performance.
Seating 120 people, the Saratoga achieves top speeds of 40-plus knots with low-wake wash due to its hydrofoil design. Coupled with finely-tuned, wave-piercing sickle bows, the boat is able to travel through both calm and rough water at full cruising speed while keeping underwater noise to a minimum, a major boon to the whales the boat is built to watch.
The essence of the Saratoga is efficiency. The vessel utilizes Hamilton Jet Drive control systems with four HJ364 water jets and MECS control systems, which are best in class in terms of maneuverability and fuel efficiency at higher speeds. Combine that with its large seating capacity and that means more people get to see more of the wonders of the water for less fuel while disturbing wildlife less. It’s a win-win-win situation.
“Since the launch of Saratoga in 2018, we’ve been impressed that this design is an incredibly effective, and efficient whale watch platform,” explained Puget Sound Express operations manager Christopher Hanke.
“The combination of speed and efficiency with ample viewing space makes this a superior whale watch vessel,” he said.
The Hanke family has been a fixture of the local community, so much so that they’ll be honored at this year’s Wooden Boat Festival with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Now in its 37th year of operation, Puget Sound Express offers a range of whale watching excursions from Port Townsend, Port Angeles, and the Seattle metro area, connecting passengers with Bigg’s orcas, humpback whales, gray whales, and minke whales.