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Whale watching tours resume in the Santa Barbara Channel

The original Condor returned to the Santa Barbara Harbor to take over whale watching tours for the Condor Express.

The vessel arrived at the Sea Landing dock from San Diego on Saturday afternoon.

The Condor Express was severely damaged in an electrical fire last weekend. Its wheelhouse is being repaired at the Ventura Harbor. Fred Benko, the longtime captain of the Condor Express, died just days before the fire broke out.

Benko built the original Condor in 1979. At first, he used it as a fishing boat. Later, he began using it for whale watching expeditions.

Benko sold it in 2002. Since then, the Condor has served as a fishing boat in San Diego. The new owner is leasing it back to the Benko family to keep the tours going until the Condor Express is fixed.

Whale watching tours on the Condor resume on Sunday starting at 9 a.m.

For more information on tours, log on to

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