Salish Sea Expeditions FAQs

Why a merger?

Simply put, it’s about creating greater efficiency, effectiveness and impact. Among other things, the merger will enhance the long­-term sustainability, outcomes and continuity of our programs, and bolster professional development opportunities for our staff. Salish Sea Expeditions and the Northwest Maritime Center (NWMC) see the value of collaboration and collective efforts; in reducing redundant administrative costs, particularly the Salish Sea Expeditions Executive Director position and certain back­end systems. In addition, the merged organization stands to benefit from larger­scale fundraising, marketing/communications and finance operations. This means that employees can specialize more in their roles rather than juggle multiple unrelated responsibilities, as is the case in smaller organizations. Ultimately, these efficiencies and increased focus will result in broadening and deepening our impact and better learning outcomes for the students that we collectively serve.

How did this idea come about?

Seth Muir, Salish Sea Expeditions’ former Executive Director, approached NWMC Executive Director Jake Beattie to revisit the topic of a collaboration/merger that the two of them had notionally explored some years earlier. In the six months of due diligence that followed Seth’s departure, both organizations explored the strategic and tactical implications of a merger, as well as the associated opportunities and risks. Together, we concluded that this integration would be mutually beneficial to our respective organizations and the alignment of our organizational cultures.

Does “increased efficiency” mean someone is losing their job?

No. All four of Salish Sea Expeditions’ permanent staff will be retained in the transition. The one reduction is the planned departure of our Interim Executive Director (ED) whom we hired to fill the role until the new Executive Director arrived. Rather than hire a new ED, the ED of NWMC will fill this function, with a portion of the original duties distributed throughout the organization. Additional efficiencies will likely come from longer ­term employment opportunities; our program staff currently only work in spring and fall, and NWMC has significant staffing needs for its summer programming.

NWMC has offices in Port Townsend and Seattle. Does everyone have to work from Port Townsend?

No. Throughout the merger process, we held program continuity as the highest priority. Transitions are the opportunity to take a fresh look at things, it was our shared goal to make as few changes as possible as the two organizations integrated, such as retaining existing staff. The leases for both the Carlyn, which Salish Sea Expeditions operates, and Salish Sea Expeditions’ Bainbridge Island headquarters, were renewed with that in mind. With the NWMC offices in Seattle that house the staff of 48o North magazine (also a NWMC project), the combined projects of NWMC will have work locations in three locations, and it’s likely that our staff will work from a combination of these locations. Certain Salish Sea Expeditions staff already live in Port Townsend and may work from there with increasing frequency.

Is the S/V Carlyn, the vessel that Salish Sea Expeditions operates programs from, moving to Port Townsend?

The Carlyn will continue to travel throughout the Salish Sea according to the needs of our students, and may occasionally stop in Port Townsend, but there are no plans to have the vessel based there.

Does the merger mean Salish Sea Expeditions will go away as an entity?

No. Salish Sea Expeditions will retain its own 501(c)(3) designation as a nonprofit but will functionally operate as an independently branded department within NWMC, much like the Wooden Boat Festival, Race to Alaska, or 48o North magazine. Our boat-­based, science inquiry education programs on the Carlyn will continue to be marketed and run under the Salish Sea Expeditions name.

Will Salish Sea Expeditions’ focus on science be diluted in the Northwest Maritime Center’s broader mission?

No. We have found that multiple initiatives can exist as distinct projects within NWMC. Salish Sea Expeditions will remain a standalone program and will also help facilitate NWMCs’ desire to increase the science emphasis in NWMC’s existing school programs.