SOUND Program: Multi-Day Expedition

About the Program

This authentic scientific research and boat-based program provides 2-5 day expeditions of oceanographic research, nautical science and seamanship aboard the 61-foot sailing research vessel, Carlyn. In this innovative “classroom” setting, students will conduct marine science research under the careful guidance of the Salish Sea Expeditions Captain and Crew.

Program Topics

  • Introduction to the Scientific Method
  • Water Quality Analysis
  • Oceanographic Equipment & Sampling Techniques
  • Salish Sea History
  • Nautical Science & Seamanship
  • And more, depending on the student learning outcomes and objectives

Each expedition is designed to align with teaching objectives and Next Generation Science Standards, providing teachers with a pedagogical tool they can implement to enhance their students’ classroom learning. These educational opportunities encourage students to build skills in critical thinking, problem solving, group collaboration, and leadership.

There are four educational components to all SOUND Programs.

  1.  Pre-Expedition Session: Facilitated by our educators, students develop background knowledge in the Salish Sea and identify a research question.
  2.  Research Expedition: 3-5-Day Expedition aboard 61′ yawl S/V Carlyn.
  3.  Post-Expedition Session: Facilitated by our educators, students synthesize information from the trip into a student presentation.
  4.  Community Science Symposium – On Hold for 2022: Hosted in partnership with the Seattle Aquarium; Community event where student scientists & sailors present the findings of their research to an educational and scientific (optional)

Pre-Expedition Session: Research Planning & Preparation (~2 hours)

Each Salish Sea Expeditions SOUND Program begins with our educators working with the student scientists and sailors in the classroom to assess where students are, provide foundational knowledge about the Salish Sea ecosystem and facilitate skill building prior to their Research Expedition. Our educators help students gain the knowledge they need in order to explore the scientific process, generate a research question, and prepare for their Research Expedition. We use inquiry-based learning methods to engage students in working together to develop a hypothesis for their onboard research project, which will guide their day to day data collection methods while on the Salish Sea. The Pre-Expedition Session typically occurs 1-2 weeks prior to the Research Expedition, either in person or via video.

Research Expedition (2-5 Days aboard the 61-foot sailing vessel Carlyn)

Research Expedition Daily Schedule: Please note that this is a sample of what the day to day schedule of the Research Expedition might look like. In addition, this sample schedule is subject to change based on weather, student or program needs and/or any unforeseen events. We do our best to accommodate special requests or changes to the program in order to meet your goals and student needs. Throughout your Research Expedition, we encourage you to communicate and share needs with your Program Coordinator. We welcome ideas and suggestions on how to make our program memorable for both you and your student scientists & sailors.

While onboard the S/V Carlyn, students are divided into two Watch Groups, Wind Watch or Water Watch. At any given time, one watch group (about half the students) is working with our Marine Science Educators to execute the research project that the student scientists planned out in the classroom. These students are deploying oceanographic research equipment, collecting samples, and analyzing data in our onboard lab. Concurrently, the other Watch Group is working with the Captain, Mate, and Deckhand to operate and sail the vessel. Their hands-on lessons include piloting and navigation, weather, lines and sail handling, Right of Way rules, maritime history, and sailing physics.

After a day filled with charts and microscopes, nets and lines, the boat comes to a dock or anchorage of the students’ choosing. One Watch Group is shuttled to shore where they will set up tents, cook their dinner over a camp stove, and enjoy an evening activity and hopefully a campfire, weather depending. The other Watch Group is doing the same on the boat, where they will spend the night. The next night, the two groups will switch, giving each student an opportunity to explore both shore and boat-based settings.

On their final day, students synthesize their data and graph it in small groups and make their final conclusions about their research question and prediction.  Students are then empowered to utilize the science and sailing skills they have acquired over the course of their Expedition to lead the way in collecting oceanographic samples and navigating safely back to where they began, with little or no adult guidance or interference.

Post-Expedition Session: Research Synthesis (~2 hours)

After the Research Expedition, student scientists and Salish Sea Expeditions educators return to the classroom to analyze, synthesize, and communicate their research findings as either a scientific presentation, poster, or paper, ideally at our Salish Sea Student Science Symposium that occurs each Spring. The project that began with the ideas developed in the first classroom visit ends as a final published presentation to be shared with parents, teachers and peers, and our extended educational and scientific community.


Salish fills a unique yet critical role in education today: to immerse students in an intensive, hands-on learning experience that helps prepare them for the challenges they will face in our increasingly complex society.

“For several years, I have attended Salish programs with my students. I believe that your approach (sound science forms sound stewardship), which engages students in a process of inquiry and investigation in a natural setting, lays the foundation for them to become lifelong citizen-scientists—and stewards. By understanding the structure and processes of the natural world, students develop a deeper connection with their local environment.”- High School Teacher
“Our daughter had an absolutely incredible experience, and her time on the Carlyn has left a lasting impression.  Her wonder for marine biology continues to grow; the passion that the staff have about their field is contagious, and has only fueled D’s personal desire to learn more and continue to pursue that field..”  -Parent of High School Student

Research Equipment

Water Quality Monitoring

Water quality monitoring in the Salish Sea is highly variable and dynamic, changing with proximity to land, river mouths, currents, as well as many other factors.  To give the best snapshot of water quality in our research areas we employ the following equipment:

  • Phosphate, nitrate, copper, surfactant, turbidity and silicate test kits (LaMotte): measure the amount of important water quality parameters in the water column. While necessary to aquatic life at small levels, problems can arise when these parameters reach high levels.
  • Colorimeter: used in conjunction with water quality test kits to obtain measurements from specific water samples.  Results recorded in PPM (parts per million).
  • Dissolved oxygen/Temperature probe: continuously measures dissolved oxygen/temperature throughout the water column to 50ft. These vertical transects give a good indication of biological activity.
  • Refractometer: measures salinity of a water sample using a drop of water and light refraction.
  • Niskin bottle: used to collect water samples from discrete depths, which are then chemically analyzed.
  • Secchi disk: used to estimate the transparency of seawater, and can provide a relative measure of productivity or turbidity.
  • pH probes:  measure how acidic or basic the water is on a scale from 0-14.  pH is an important water quality measurement with most organisms only tolerating a small range, typically around 6-8.5.

Biological Monitoring

The biological life of the Salish Sea is dependent upon local water quality.  Through collection and analysis of biological and water quality samples we are able to employ the scientific process to determine relationships at different locations.  Biological sampling equipment onboard includes:

  • Phytoplankton net: This 63-micrometer mesh net collects the smallest plankton, which can then be analyzed using volume measurements as well as under a compound microscope.
  • Zooplankton net: This 120-micrometer mesh net collects animal plankton, allowing phytoplankton to pass through the larger mesh.
  • Dissecting and Compound microscopes: used to more closely analyze plankton by species.
  • Seives: can be used to sort sediments collected from shore to classify sediment composition and/or to uncover macro-invertebrates.
  • Fisheye underwater camera: camera to deploy off of the side of the vessel to observe creatures when visibility allows.

Registration Process

Welcome teachers and group leaders! 

Step 1: Questions about our programs?

Contact the Salish Sea Expeditions Education Director at

Step 2: Ready to register?

Once you have completed and submitted the Request Reservation Form, we will contact you to discuss details and confirm information, including fees, scholarships, dates, times and location.

Step 3: Receive your Contract & Invoice

Please review, sign and return your contract and deposit by the indicated deadlines. We will hold your requested dates, however, your SOUND Program is not confirmed until the signed contract and deposit have been received.

Step 4: Get excited and ready to explore and sail the Salish Sea!

There will most likely be questions along the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact our Education Directly directly should you need anything.

Expedition Paperwork & Prep

Step 1: Expedition Paperwork & Forms

**All meals and food orders are planned and organized around the dietary restrictions and medical conditions of the Watch Groups. In order to ensure that we have ample time to prepare and accommodate all dietary restrictions, all forms must be received a minimum of three weeks prior to Research Expedition. 

Step 2: Expedition Preparation

  • Chaperone & Group Leaders Roles – a detailed explanation of Expedition guidelines and chaperone roles and responsibilities
  • What To Bring (Multi-Day Expedition) – how to prepare and pack, including a detailed list of gear to bring on an Expedition
  • Homework Packet (optional)– a homework booklet that students can fill out prior to the Expedition to further their knowledge. Before providing to students, please have them first complete the Student Pre Evaluation, or wait to introduce the packet until after your Pre Expedition Session. Thank you!
  • Parent Orientation – If you haven’t scheduled a Parent Orientation, though would like resources to support a self-directed Parent Orientation, please contact our Education Director.

Step 3: Expedition Evaluation

Marina Information

If you have questions at any time, please contact our Education Director at


Pre & Post Expedition Sessions


  • Salish Sea Expeditions SOUND Program begins with our educators working with the student scientists and sailors in the classroom to provide important knowledge and build on necessary skills
  • Pre Expedition Session typically occurs 1-2 weeks prior to the Research Expedition, either in person or via video call
Session Preparation & Materials:
  • Student Pre Evaluation– Please have students complete prior to the Pre Expedition Session; will take ~7-10 minutes
  • Students will be brainstorming, discussing and collaborating in groups, so an environment that facilitates that is ideal
  • White board and projector, if possible
Session Content Agenda & Activities:
  1. Complete and/or collect Student Pre Evaluations 
  2. Salish Sea Ecosystem Introduction & Review
  3. Scientific method, research equipment and parameters
  4. Research question generation & hypothesis building
  5. What to bring, how to pack & what to expect during your Expedition
  6. Questions & Student Contracts


  • Following the Research Expedition (and recovery!), student scientists and Salish Sea Expeditions educators return to the classroom to analyze, synthesize, and communicate their research findings
  • Student scientists will develop a scientific presentation, poster, or paper to be presented and/or shared with our educational and scientific community at our Salish Sea Student Science Symposium (Spring)
  • Post Expedition Session typically occurs 1-2 weeks following to the Research Expedition, either in person or via video call
Session Preparation & Materials:
  • Student Post Evaluation – Students will complete following the Post Expedition Session; will take ~7-10 minutes
  • Students will be brainstorming, discussing and collaborating in groups, so an environment that facilitates that is ideal
  • White board and projector, if possible
  • Student journals, hypothesis/prediction and data from Research Expedition
Session Content Agenda & Activities:
  1. Reflection on Expedition; Share highlights
  2. Review scientific method process & how it relates to their data and prediction
  3. Analyze and synthesize data: Review, reflect & discuss – What other questions do we have?
  4. Research presentation planning & decision making
  5. Create presentation, poster or other medium to convey research findings to others
  6. Questions & Next Steps – Where does a student scientist go from here? 
  7. Complete and collect Student Post Evaluations


Salish Sea Expeditions FAQs – Frequently asked questions about our program, vessel and safety practices and policies

What is Salish Sea Expeditions?

Salish Sea Expeditions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to inspire youth to connect with the marine environment through boat-based scientific inquiry and hands-on learning, instilling curiosity, confidence, and critical thinking. Salish Sea Expeditions provides opportunities for student scientists and sailors to design and conduct authentic scientific research from the decks of a 61-foot sailing vessel on the Salish Sea.

What vessel is used?

Programs occur aboard the sailing vessel Carlyn, a 61-foot yawl built in 1996, belonging to Four Winds*Westward Ho Camps. Carlyn is a US Coast Guard (USCG) inspected vessel.

How many crew members are there and what qualifications do they have?

There are a minimum of four to six crew members on all programs, including a Captain, Mate, Deckhand, Program Coordinator, Marine Science Educator, and Logistics & Galley Coordinator. All have experience working with youth in various settings and have first aid training. The Marine Scientists have experience both in the teaching and research fields, while our Mates and Deckhands have experience on the water. The Captain and Mate are licensed by the USCG and have extensive experience operating sailing school vessels.

What kind of plan do you have for emergencies while students are on board?

Any vessel carrying passengers for hire must meet construction and operations standards established by the USCG. Carlyn was designed and certified under the Sailing School Ship Vessel Act. As the name implies, vessels certified under the Sailing School Vessel Act are meant to be used as training vessels and operated by students. As such, the safety margin in construction standards and operational requirements are quite high.

Carlyn is required to have plans that meet or exceed response standards set by the USCG for just about any incident. These mainly address major vessel incidents such as man-overboard, fire, collision, and abandon ship. Every Captain is required by law to thoroughly train and drill their crew in the approved emergency procedures for that particular vessel. When students board the vessel, the Captain will specifically discuss with the group what to do in the event of an emergency. An emergency drill might very well be part of your program. Carlyn is also required to carry emergency supplies and equipment including radios, flares, first aid kits, life raft, life sling and Type I Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). We have established safety procedures for every activity the students participate in, both aboard the ship and while ashore. Students are informed of the procedures before engaging in the activity. Students who cannot follow the procedures do not participate.

Do students wear Personal Flotation Devices?

Yes. Any time they are working on deck while the boat is underway or in the small boats they will be required to wear Type III PFD’s (lifevests). We are also required to carry the Type I PFD’s (highest USCG buoyancy rating) for each person on board.

Is sea sickness a problem?

Sea sickness is generally caused by the motion of big ocean swells. The Salish Sea is protected from swells by the land that surrounds it. Seasickness can often act as a self-fulfilling prophesy; if you come aboard convinced you will get seasick, then you probably will! Most people that experience seasickness do so when they are below decks for long periods of time. They usually feel better just by coming up on deck, getting some fresh air, and looking at the horizon. If you know that motion sickness is a problem, consult your doctor about a motion sickness product. These products tend to make you feel drowsy and usually need to be taken several hours before going out on the water. Please, only use them if you know that motion sickness is a problem. You may want to look into alternative remedies such as ginger (tea or candied) and wrist bands that work using pressure points.

How long are programs?

You can choose the length of your program aboard the ship (from 1-5 days). We also offer Pre & Post Expedition Sessions for Multi-Day Expeditions. These sessions are designed to maximize the experience by providing students with the background knowledge and skills they will need to be involved in the decision-making process. At a minimum, we recommend at least one 2 hour pre-trip session focusing on background information, becoming familiar with available research equipment, and developing a hypothesis. Post Expedition Sessions focus on creation of presentations in order to communicate the results of the student research. You decide how much time you would like to dedicate to these sessions and what additional topics you would like us to address. Sessions can be arranged before, during or after school. The entire group does not need to attend every session.

What are the sleeping arrangements?

All students, teachers and chaperones will sleep on shore in tents that allow for six feet of distance between people. While enclosed, there is still a lot of fresh air ventilation in a tent and windows can be opened partially or fully to allow even more air exchange.

How are the meals organized and when? Can you accommodate dietary needs & restrictions?

Meals: All snacks and meals will be provided and prepared by our crew and when possible, with assistance student scientists and sailors! Upon registration, parents/guardians will complete our Medical Form, which includes questions around dietary restrictions and requirements. We are able to accommodate most needs, though if you have any specific questions or requests, please contact us.

Meal & Snack Schedule: Please note that the times below are estimated and might fluctuate depending on program and student needs, weather and other variables.

    • 7:30-8am Breakfast
    • ~10am Snack
    • 12pm Lunch
    • 3pm Snack
    • 6pm Dinner

Where in the Salish Sea will we be and can parents follow our Expedition?

Parents and teachers will always be aware of the marina and city that their trip will be departing from. Due to the student-directed nature of our programs and the fact that students decide where they will be sailing and collecting samples each morning, we cannot exactly say where the boat will be.  The Education Director will send periodic emails, some with updates from students directly, to parents/guardians over the course of the sail adventure. The information typically includes the location of the boat, the boat track for the day, and some journal text from the student. Our Program Coordinator will also do their best to update our Instagram account over the course of the Expedition. 

How far will the boat travel each day?

With guidance from the crew, your students will be deciding where to sail each day, taking into consideration what sampling needs to get done, the tides and currents and where they want to camp for the evening. In general, the greater the distance you attempt to sail, the less time you have for sampling stations. We encourage the students to make conservative plans that do not cover a lot of physical distance so that they have greater flexibility in meeting the challenges of the day.

How far will the boat be from the campers?

Ideal locations are those where the ship is in direct sight of the camp. Occasionally the campsite will not have a protected enough moorage for Carlyn, in which case the ship will moor in the closest possible safe anchorage. In general, we try to keep the campers and the boat as close together as possible. Some staff and chaperones will be sleeping with the watch ashore.

What kind of communication system is there between boat and campers?

Most of our camping locations are marine state parks. We communicate between ship and shore via our hand-held two-way radios or cell phone. We also travel with both an inflatable small boat with outboard motor and rowboat/dinghy.

Could a parent contact their child if there were an emergency at home?

Yes. During all Salish Sea Expeditions adventures, a designated Salish staff (typically the Education Director) will carry a phone during all programs in case of emergency at any time during the Expedition. On Call Education Phone Number: (206) 715-0312

What do students need to bring that is not covered in the program fees?

Students will need to bring appropriate clothing (we will supply a list) packed in a duffel or gym bag and a backpacking type (compressible) sleeping bag. We supply rain gear, tents, sleeping pads and PFD’s. Please refer to What To Bring (Multi-Day Expedition) for a more detailed, comprehensive list.

We don’t have enough students. Can we pair with another group?

Yes, you can pair with another group. We can try to help you find one or you can come up with your own. We find the ideal group size to be between 18 and 24 students. Your group can be mixed age (any combination of 5-12th graders). In all cases we would need to insure that program plans meet the needs of all parties and we would arrange for the entire group to meet before going out on the boat.

What’s the insurance coverage policy?

Participants are covered by a $1,000,000 liability policy.

If you have questions at any time, please contact our Education Director at

Program Details

  • Spring season: March-June
  • Fall season: September-October

Program length: 3-5 day programs

Cost: Operations cost $4,200 per day, but we only charge $3,200 per day.

Money should never be in the way of getting your students out on the water with Salish Sea Expeditions. Scholarships are available for those who qualify. Please indicate on your program request form to apply for assistance.

Inquire today for program information!

Class Size: Up to 28 students and 2 chaperons
Grade Levels: Starting at 5th Grade

All science equipment, safety gear, food and camping equipment included.