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Clipper Navigation, Inc., is a subsidiary of Förde Reederei Seetouristik based in Seattle, Washington, that provides multiple transportation and vacation packages—many of which are offered under the name Clipper Vacations—including hotel and tour packages in Victoria, Seattle, Vancouver, Friday Harbor, Portland, Whistler, British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies and Kelowna.
Victoria Clipper I in Seattle
|Headquarters||Seattle, Washington, United States|
|Parent||Förde Reederei Seetouristik|
The company operates the Victoria Clipper high-speed passenger-only ferry service between downtown Seattle to both the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria, British Columbia, and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. The various Victoria Clipper catamarans typically complete a one-way trip in less than three hours.
Clipper Navigation, Inc., was founded in 1986 with the original Victoria Clipper on the Seattle/Victoria route. The Victoria Clipper II was actually two different boats that ran to the San Juan Islands. Both boats were sold and the Victoria Clipper III was purchased. The service between Seattle and Friday Harbor provides orca and gray whale watching out of that port and has been in operation since 1991 daily from mid-May through September. As Clipper Navigation grew, it launched Clipper Vacations.
Clipper Vacations provides hotel and tour packages, not just in Victoria, but also in Seattle, Vancouver, Friday Harbor, Portland, Oregon, Whistler, British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies, Kelowna, and many spas and fishing resorts on Vancouver Island.
The Victoria Clipper IV, with a LOA of 132 feet (40 m) and a beam of 33.3 feet (10.1 m), was added to the fleet in the mid-1990s and holds approximately 324 passengers. While the Clipper IV is capable of reaching an overall faster top speed, both vessels cruise at 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) between Seattle and Victoria. The Clipper IV is also one of the fastest passenger vessels in the western hemisphere. The Clipper fleet currently consists of three high speed catamarans, the Victoria Clipper I, Victoria Clipper III, and Victoria Clipper IV, that serve Seattle, Victoria, and Friday Harbor.
Clipper Navigation was also responsible for operating the Princess Marguerite III, a car ferry between Seattle and Victoria. Its operation was discontinued a decade ago due to the extremely high costs associated with the six-hour trip between ports. Currently, there is no car service between Seattle and Victoria. The primary choice for passengers with cars is either the Coho ferry out of Port Angeles or the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes, Washington to Sidney, British Columbia about 30 minutes from Victoria. Clipper Vacations can book passengers who wish to take the Coho in conjunction with a hotel stay.
Between 2005 and 2006, Clipper Navigation also operated the Mosquito Fleet out of Everett, Washington. This boat was the primary whale watching service in Friday Harbor. Its operation was ceased at the end of 2006, however. Gray and orca whale watching is still available with the Victoria Clipper out of Seattle.
The 132 ft (40 m) 480 t (470 long tons; 530 short tons) Victoria Clipper IV was stolen on December 1, 2013 from its dock in Seattle by a sex offender who removed a GPS monitoring device from his ankle and climbed the fence around the dock area, then came aboard and drove the boat away, ripping a cleat from the moor. The boat was adrift in ferry lanes during a 2 hour standoff with police, after which the suspect was arrested and subsequently charged with several crimes, that were “not only a public spectacle, but were spectacularly reckless and deadly perilous,” according to the prosecutor. The first person to notice the boat was missing was Darrell Bryan, President and CEO of Clipper Navigation.
In 2016, Clipper Navigation was acquired by Förde Reederei Seetouristik (FRS) of Flensburg, Germany. FRS announced plans to expand the company's service to include routes between Victoria and Vancouver and between Florida and Cuba.
The Victoria Clipper ferry provides Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach service between Seattle, Washington and Victoria, BC.
- List of HSC ferry routes#Americas List of High Speed Ferry Routes, Americas
- Victoria Clipper Ferry | Ferry to Victoria BC | San Juan Islands Ferry. Clippervacations.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
- KOMO-TV (December 2, 2013), "Police nab suspect aboard drifting Victoria Clipper", Seattle P-I
- Pulkkinen, Levi (December 4, 2013), "Prosecutors: Flasher who stole Victoria Clipper says he's a 'pirate'", Seattle P-I
- Tu, Janet I. (January 19, 2016), "Seattle-based Clipper sold to German company; new routes planned", Seattle Times
- Rauterberg, Carsten (October 15, 2017). "Letzte Fahrt des Helgoland-Katamarans" [Last Journey of the Heligoland Catamaran]. NDR.de (in German). Norddeutscher Rundfunk.